On Hunky Dory
David Bowie found his groove, or rather, he reinvented his old one.
He threw away that weird Heavy Metal / Art Rock piddle he was messing around with on The Man Who Sold the World
, and returned to doing what he did best - pop music. In a big way, Hunky Dory
marked his return to the music-hall of his debut album, except these songs aren't nearly as silly.
While I do like silly music, it's OK that Bowie wanted to get more serious. That was the way of the early 1970's after all, and besides Bowie proves here that he can write pretty interesting philosophical lyrics.
Mick Ronson was still hanging around lending Bowie his wicked cool guitar licks, but you'd have to squint your ears to hear him sometimes. Since Bowie was taking a more theatrical route, he had his pianist Rick Wakeman take center stage. Of course, we all know who Rick Wakeman is, he of the mad piano-playing skills!
Just listen to Wakeman playing those big dramatic arpeggios in “Life on Mars?”. I don't know much about awesome piano playing, but I can envision that something terribly cheesy and cheapish could've happened there. Instead, Wakeman gives us a piano that's rich, dazzling, and big. It's a great melody too - whenever the grandiose chorus pops up, it's like it launches my mind into outer space (where it belongs).
Perhaps the most notable development is that Bowie finally figured out how to write consistently good melodies. Not everything is a home run, but almost
I already mentioned “Life on Mars?”, but get a load of “Changes”, a real corker of a song! It has a bit of a lounge/Jazz beginning, which is nice, but the most memorable thing about it is the pop-rock chorus, which is so snappy it'll have you singing Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES!
along with it quicker than I can change my underpants (roughly 7.4 seconds). And “Oh! You Pretty Things” is similar, starting out with Bowie singing a nice though ultimately uninteresting melody, but then the chorus comes in and hits you over the head like a ton of marbles.
by Reviewer: Don Ignacio
(blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews