David Bowie FAQ:Music:Albums:
Hunky Dory (1971)

With his old band plus former Rats member Trevor Bolder on bass and Rick Wakeman (later with Yes) on keyboards, Bowie recorded his next album, Hunky Dory, which he produced with Ken Scott. It was released in November 1971, after Wakeman had left the band.
Changes, the first single from Hunky Dory, reached #66 on the US charts.
Bowie: 'I really started to feel at home as a songwriter in Hunky Dory. I really felt that I knew how to write songs at that point. There were couple of things that attempted to sort of transplant the brain of a cabaret song onto a piece of rock writing. One was Life on Mars and the other one was Changes. Changes started out as a parody of a nightclub song, a kind of throwaway. But it turned into the monster that nobody would stop asking for at concerts. "Dye-vid, Dye-vid - do Changes". I had no idea it would become such a popular thing'.
Upon its initial release, Hunky Dory reached #93 on the US charts, but failed to chart in the UK or anywhere else.
The album featured Bowie paying tributes (in some cases ambivalent ones) to such heroes of his as Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground's Lou Reed (Queen Bitch).
According to several sources Andy Warhol hated the song Bowie wrote for him (Andy Warhol), thinking it made fun of his appearance. They met, Andy listened to the song and sat and stared at David for a while, then said 'I like your shoes'. In an interview for the radio program Modern Rock Live, Bowie said Warhol wasn't terribly communicative and he talked about how they basically stood there and looked at each other before having a conversation about shoes.
Peter Noone (lead singer of Herman's Hermits) reached #12 on the UK charts with his cover of "Oh! You Pretty Things". This was released before Hunky Dory. Bowie also wrote "Right On Mother" for Noone's next single, which flopped. Bowie played piano on both Noone singles.
To this date, "Oh! You Pretty Things" remains Noone's only solo hit single.
In his version, Noone changed the line "The Earth is a bitch" to "The Earth is a beast", out of deference to middle America where Herman's Hermits had most of their fans. Despite this, the single flopped in the US.
Despite its initial lack of chart success, "Hunky Dory" has proven enduring appeal. After his Ziggy breakthrough in the UK, the album entered the charts and made it as high as #3 (two places higher than "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars") and spent 69 weeks on the chart. In 1981, RCA re-issued it as a budget price album in the UK, and it climbed to #32, spending a further 51 weeks on the charts this time. In 1990, the EMI CD reissue spent a further 2 weeks on the UK chart, climbing to #39. The album re-appeared in the lower regions of the UK Top 200 album charts again shortly after 1.Outside was released in 1995, and Earthling in 1997. Later in 1997, EMI re-released it as a budget rice CD, and it spent several more weeks on the UK charts, climbing as high as #174.
In 1998, "The Guinness Top 10 Of Everything" book listed Hunky Dory as the second-biggest selling Bowie album of all time in the UK, behind "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars" and ahead of more immediate sellers such as Let's Dance.
Hunky Dory regularly appears in "all time top 100 lists" as voted by critics or the geneneral public, usually as the second highest Bowie album (after "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars"). Occasionally, it even comes in ahead of "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars", as in the recent NME contributors poll which had it at #38 to #40 for "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars".
Rick Wakeman once described the album as "the best collection of great songs on one album ever".
Answers in this category:
Previous: The Man Who Sold The World (1971)
Next: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
This document is: http://www.teenagewildlife.com/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/torrie/fom.cgi?file=57
The Faq-O-Matic is by Jon Howell. Show This Entire Category SearchAppearanceShow Edit Commands