Features

Saturday Deluxe / 9 April 2016

David Bowie / Hunky Dory

Is Hunky Dory is the British public’s favourite ‘old’ Bowie album?

There was a fair bit of publicity this week around the UK charts ‘so far’ for 2016. Of course, it almost goes without saying that Adele had the biggest selling album with 25. There must be so many artists who could have had a number one album were it not for the English singer. Perhaps they need to create a separate chart for Adele albums like they did with compilations when Now That’s What I Call Music sets kept hogging the top spot back in the 1980s!

bowie_comparebest

‘Best of Bowie’ outsold the newer ‘Nothing Has Changed’ in 2016

Anyway, David Bowie‘s Blackstar was number two in this best selling list, while two compilations Best of Bowie (no. 4) and Nothing Has Changed (no. 10) joined it in the top ten. It’s interesting, because Nothing Has Changed is the better compilation for me, but this can only prove that the ‘general public’ perhaps don’t want ‘concept’ in their hits packages – with a strange image of Bowie looking in a mirror with an unfathomable title. They want things a little more straightforward, presented in a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin manner. I guess you might say that one is ‘art’ and the other is commerce.

But putting aside Blackstar and compilations, the biggest selling David Bowie album in the UK this year has been Hunky Dory. Are we surprised by this? Not really. It contains Life On Mars for one thing, possibly the world’s favourite David Bowie song, as well as Changes another signature number. It has the sweet and homely Kooks, the New York weirdness of Andy Warhol and that’s without even mentioning Queen Bitch, The Bewlay Brothers, Quicksand etc. A truly sublime record.

So this begs the question that – apart from the Ryko re-releases in 1990/1 – why has this much loved album been overlooked for reissue? A remaster did finally emerge as part of the Five Years box set, but in 25 years Hunky Dory has never been reissued in any form. It’s like Paul McCartney not reissuing Band on the Run (something he’s done three times since 1993). Unthinkable. For reasons that David probably took to his grave, he allowed Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust, Young Americans, Station to Station, and David Bowie/Space Oddity to be reissued but not Hunky Dory. 

Life on Mars – the world’s favourite Bowie song?

I imagine Bowie was asked many times about HD and this situation was probably as frustrating for EMI (and later Warners) as it was for Bowie fans. Unfortunately, I do not see anything happening in the near future with regards to Hunky Dory. Five Years was the first ‘in a series’ of planned boxes, so SDE expects at least two more like it before any individual albums are tackled. So that means it could be 2018 before any album reissues happen, and at that point the label may have half an eye on the 50th anniversary of Hunky Dory which is in 2021. What are you thoughts on this? Leave a comment.


ChartWatch

The Pet Shop Boys debut strongly on the on the physical chart this week as they hit number two with SUPER (no. 3 on the full album chart). The Last of the Shadow Puppets’ new album spoils the party somewhat by claiming the number one spot, but all the PSB promotion and ‘pop-up’ shop etc. seems to have worked.

Mogwai‘s new album soundtrack album Atomic has only really had a fleeting mention on SDE far but again a reasonably stronger performance by the Scottish band. I must admit I’m a big fan of Les Revenants the music they created for the French TV series.

acrosstheborderlineIt’s a bit of a quiet week, to be honest, on the reissues-entering-the-chart-front and it’s not too often you see those grey market, ‘unofficial’ releases in the mix, but Bob Dylan and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1986 concert in Sydney, Australia was issued last week as ‘Across the Borderline’ and the two-CD set of the whole performance is in at number 76, pop-pickers!

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48 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 9 April 2016

  1. Fat Old Bloke says:

    I believe The Man Who Sold The World is Bowies best album.

  2. JasonC says:

    It’s great to see Hunky Dory winning the popular vote, it’s obviously a fantastic record. Through all the sadness of Bowie’s death, I hope some 15 year old in 2016 hears HD for the first time and starts them on a journey of their own.

    If there’s a reason why HD gets forgotten or overlooked when it comes to reissues, it could be because there’s no big Ziggy-style concept attached to it. And because it only became popular post-Ziggy, there isn’t (to my knowledge) the amount of footage, newspaper clippings etc attached to 1971-era Bowie compared to everything 1972 onwards. There’s the OGWT fotage, but he’s Ziggy-ed himself up by that stage. Also, is there any extra material around from those session or that era?

    It reminds me a bit of how in the 80s, Sgt Pepper was seen as the best Beatles album, but over time the focus moved to Rubber Soul & Revolver instead. All these perspectives change with time.

  3. Alan says:

    Number three for Pet Shop Boys’ Super is a fine placing, equalling that of Electric. Apparently it’s number 12 in Australia, their best placing there since Bilingual hit number 3.

  4. Dean says:

    To be honest, the entire handling of Bowie’s back catalog has been weird for some time. Hell, even the Space Oddity album got a two-disc Special Edition! Yet there are albums that just flounder, Hunky Dory being one of them.

    I suppose the most oft mentioned titles MIA as far as “the extra mile” is concerned is the Berlin Trilogy. Then there’s Scary Monsters. I have a CD of demo’s and the like from the Scary Monsters sessions, and there’s so much good stuff on it, it would make a great SDE (and no, owning a bootleg wouldn’t stop me buying an official release).

    Then look at something like Stage, where footage of the tour exists – or David Live where music from other dates is around.

    The Five Years box, and presumably the ones that will follow, do two things right – they are remastered to a high standard (Hunky Dory in the 2015 mastering sounds better than I’ve ever heard it before, and I owned it back in the 70’s!), and the vinyl replica sleeves now emulate what you get from Japan.

    Other then that though, they’re lacking. I think anyone would be hard pressed to suggest much imagination was at work when putting them together. I’ll enjoy the new sounds, but I admit I’m not excited by the prospect of these new box sets.

    Better than what we’re getting would be a full on, balls to the wall, SDE release of the catalog. Sadly though, we’re not likely to get that. I think we can safely say the new box sets won’t be the last word on many Bowie titles – but time is running out for physical product, and it’s kind of a now or never. It seems doubtful Man Who Sold the World, Outside, or hell even the giant album that Let’s Dance was will get the treatment they deserve.

    Such a missed opportunity, but then I’ve been saying this forever on this site – every time another reissue comes down the line………….

  5. Steve Benson says:

    I’m confused by the comment about Hunky Dory not being reissued. I recently bought a (jewel cased) Parlophone reissue which is labelled ‘2015 Remaster’. It is widely available and at a reasonable price too.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      That’s the remaster from Five Years. Not a deluxe reissue as people normally understand these things.

  6. Paolo Meccano says:

    I’m really not expecting any expanded Bowie reissues in the future (well, apart from “Blackstar”, obviously). When you consider the apparent paucity of available out-takes from the later albums, what could any compiler use that hasn’t been released already? I think a general multi-disc “bootleg series”-type collection would perhaps be more likely.

  7. bob says:

    Bowie is a great example of an artist whose legacy is not set in stone. Years ago I would have said that his most loved/popular songs would have been Life On Mars, Starman, Rebel Rebel or Ashes To Ashes.
    But of course Bowie has had such a long career and released so much fantastic music that over time the songs that are the most popular change. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Life On Mars is so well loved, it is a solid gold classic and even Barbara Streisand did a cover version back in the 70’s.
    Changes is an interesting one as it has only become really popular in recent years. Same with Heroes, that wasn’t even a top 20 hit when originally released and now it has almost become a kind of anthem, a song that everybody knows.
    I still haven’t bought or heard Blackstar yet, I figure there’s no rush, I have about 40 Bowie CD’s and I am slowly working my way through them again randomly, the amount of great music Bowie released is staggering.
    I have to disagree with you Paul on the compilations, Best Of Bowie is simply a fantastic 2 disc set, to not have included John I’m Only Dancing on Nothing Has Changed was a huge error of judgement in my eyes. For me that has become Bowie’s great ‘lost’ single, even though it was a hit and Bowie recorded and released three versions of the song. The original single version is simply superb.

    • RJSWinchester says:

      “I still haven’t bought or heard Blackstar”

      It’s a fabulous album and I’ve played it endlessy since its release. Not because he passed away but because it is very, very good.

  8. Auntie Sabrina says:

    PSB did well in the vinyl chart. The CD was £9 at Tesco and £8 at Amazon, but Sainsburys did not have it on the chart. No mention of Aled Jones then..?

  9. William says:

    According to this poll, taken just before Bowie’s death, this is the favourite album amongst his fans (and is worldwide, not just British)

    https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/album-poll-day-3-10-1/

    Also, this is an excellent site for all things Bowie.

  10. Fabrice Dray says:

    I always thought the extra tracks taken off of the riko reissues in the most recent ones were gonna be eventually released in a box set. They were taken off for a reason but which one?

  11. RJSWinchester says:

    I know this is a site dedicated to Super Deluxe Editions but at times it seems that some people place too much importance on collecting and amassing music than listening to it. 27 studio albums and numerous compilations and live albums – there’s hardly a shortage of Bowie music available. And demos and outtakes are very rarely as good as or better than the finished songs that were released.

    • probablyrustin says:

      It’s not an either/or proposition. People don’t become collectors (placing “importance on collecting and amassing music”) without a baseline love of the music. I see your point, and sure, some may lose sight of what they’re even collecting, but what you’re complaining of is sort of the purpose of this site…

      • Joseph says:

        SDEs (when done right) are a celebration of a recorded work which is intended for those who’ve already well-develpoed a healthy appreciation for the originating work. So those who purchase them have theoretically already done the not-inconsequential listening & enjoying bit of the original LP or what have you. In this regard, I’ve thought it odd whenever a new album is optimistically “expanded” either at release or within the first year or two of its existence. In those cases, I do believe there is more likely some collectivism which incorrectly anticipates or assumes one’s appreciation of the work prior to the proper listening of the actual product which is most representative of the artist’s primary vision.

  12. ken says:

    Hunky Dory was always in my top Bowie albums, it’s nice to see if growing in popularity. I think it fits in well with the current trends today, like the Hipster crowd. That’s the cool thing about Bowie with so many albums that cover such a variety of styles there will always be a shift in popularity of what his most popular records are.
    Not unlike RAM and Wildlife by Paul McCartney suddenly becoming appreciated by a younger audience. Hunky Dory is great songs that stand the test of time but produced in away that appeal to current trends.

    Keep up the great work Paul, your site is fantastic.

  13. Simon F says:

    Hunky Dory was given a deluxe vinyl reissue back in 1997 as part of EMI’s 100th anniversary. There was a whole raft of classic EMI albums reisued to mark this occasion.
    Came in a lovely glossy sleeve with all original artwork, lyric sheet and 180g pressing with orange style label with EMI where the original RCA logo would have been. A really lovely reissue which I am very proud to own.
    My copy also contains lengthy articles on the album from the pages of Mojo and Record Collector!

    • Simon F says:

      Oh yes, forgot to mention it was cut from the original analogue masters not some digital thang!

    • Normand Tremblay says:

      As Simon F wrote, I have this fantastic vinyl reissue of Hunky Dory from 1997 (with a EMI sticker mention, inter alia,
      • Analogue Cutting From Analogue Tapes)
      Great albun, great sound…

  14. John Berry says:

    Hunky Dory is in fact available in hi -res, you can find it here:
    http://www.hdtracks.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=hunky+Dory

    By an eerie coincidence, I bought it along with Blackstar the weekend before David died. The audio difference is subtle compared with the Ryko remaster, warmer and more analogue sounding but not “night and day”.

    Btw – hd tracks stands for high definition, not Hunky Dory tracks.

  15. Paul Wren says:

    Simply Vinyl re-released the album on vinyl in the UK in 2001, ie a legitimate reissue. Weirdly, there have been a number of CD reissues of this during the 2000’s, but all of them somewhere other than the UK. ie in Japan and the USA. Yes, it is indeed strange how this album has been overlooked in its country of origin.

  16. Steve Marine says:

    I was really enjoying all of the deluxe editions that were coming out back in the 2000’s. I’ve sort of been in mourning ever since they stopped. Particularly since we never got HUNKY DORY, the Berlin Trilogy, SCARY MONSTERS, etc. The new 5 YEARS box set just doesn’t cut it for me. It feels like a cash grab having to buy a bunch of albums again just to get the meager amount of unreleased stuff. And I honestly love my super deluxe editions to celebrate albums individually, rather than in boxed sets. Doesn’t every album deserve it’s own spotlight?

  17. Christophe says:

    Don’t wanna spoil your pleasure, but maybe the only reason for Hunky Dory being the most sold album in recent months is BECAUSE it was the less reissued in recent years…

    As you mention it, it is the first opportunity in 25 years for people to put their hands on it. Maybe the all-time favorite is Ziggy Stardust, (or Aladdin Sane, or Station to Station,) but people have bought it already a few years ago…

  18. martin farnworth says:

    what would warrant a deluxe release of hunky dory other than mass appeal above other bowie albums? it maybe the nations favourite because it appeals to the more casual fan partly because it one of the more conventional bowie albums. to play devils advocate it i suggest that it is the main piece what counts and other stuff (i.e rarities/remastering etc) would not necessarily appeal any more than deluxe low or heroes reissues. having said that it would be absurd to say there is no demand for such stuff. personally speaking, i’d part cash for a never let me down reissue of demo material!

  19. Charles K. says:

    I don’t know but it’s definitely mine.

  20. JR Larsson says:

    I am happy with the Ryko Au20 Gold release. If they were to do a 5.1 mix it should have been while Bowie, the consummate artist, was participating.

  21. James says:

    Another day, another David Bowie story. Yawn.
    And, in other news, rumour has it there are other music artists in the world.

  22. Eightiesaddict@yahoo.com says:

    Thanks for the Bowie update. SDE is my favorite music website, and always give me a jump on my pre-orders.

  23. SG says:

    There is a wealth of unreleased recordings from this era, and it has confounded me as to why it has never seen a proper deluxe release, from the alternate mixes from the mainman promo release to the alternate bowie produced version of Andy Warhol released by Dana Gillespie, there was a fantastic Peel session done for the record which never got fully released on the bbc sessions, there is the Arnold Corns material…. There is even an alternate cover for the record! This was a very creative time which could easily take up 3 discs, not scrappy outtakes mind you, but prime Bowie. Just look at how even Nick Drake has gotten some kind of box set treatment for all 3 of his records, promo art memorabilia etc, and he sold next to zip at the time and got sparce coverage compared to Bowie. Granted the album stands on its own, but it makes little sense why such a fan favorite never got more attention in the augmented reissue department. I can only guess it was a personal decision on the part of Bowie to let it stand alone.

  24. JWL says:

    The 1997 vinyl reissue is the definitive Hunky Dory, the tapes has obviously degraded since as the Five Years box isn’t the same standard.

  25. Jack Deckard says:

    The ‘art’ makes you interesting and fanous, while the ‘commerce’ makes you rich. Please, just keep the original albums available.

  26. Dean says:

    I don’t consider a 180gm Vinyl release to be “deluxe”. Especially with no extras. It’s just a reissue.

    RJSWinchester: Have you heard any of the Bowie out-takes? The comment ” demos and outtakes are very rarely as good as or better than the finished songs that were released” doesn’t apply to Bowie. The outtakes from the Zippy sessions, the ASane period, the Young Americans period….. all where let off simply because of the limitations of Vinyl (running time).

    As I noted earlier, the demos of the Scary Monsters album are excellent – can’t imagine a Bowie fan not wanting them.

    I would add – while it can hit and miss, th3e surround sound mix of Young Americans is great – the scope for worthy extras is huge.

    • Jim says:

      Intrigued by Dean’s post.I’d love to hear the David Bowie Zippy sessions. That’s one release I hope they don’t bungle.

  27. Gordon says:

    What about the 1999 re-issues?

    • Eddie says:

      Re the 1999 discs, there were no extra tracks and they are generally considered to be the worst sounding Bowie remasters.

  28. Eddie says:

    Hi Paul,

    Re James’s ridiculous comment, don’t feed the trolls!

    But, having said that, your response is, of course, absolutely correct.

    Keep up the great work you do here.

    • Guillermo E says:

      That’s right, some of us, don’t get tired of Bowie. I’m still waiting for another chapter of your Chronicles, Paul. I’m a mexican living in the riviera maya, and it’s great to hear Bowie with Piñas coladas.

  29. probablyrustin says:

    Nobody’s tastes are going to be fully represented by a single author’s blog. I for one am not into many of the artists featured here, but I still enjoy reading the articles because they often contain broader discussions such as market/marketing analysis, commentary on the industry, charts, unique features etc. Bowie, on the other hand, I love to read about from every perspective. Haters gonna hate, let them!

  30. Auntie Sabrina says:

    I like a nice pinas coladas, especially on Sunday evening…

    • RJSWinchester says:

      Auntie Sabrina, you have a spelling mistake (altouugh) in the first sentence of your review for Genius Of Time by Larry Levan on Amazon.

  31. Dean says:

    LOL

    Without exaggeration – 95% of the releases heralded on this site are of no interest to me. Sorry, I wasn’t into 80’s and/or 90’s pop.

    But I still frequent regularly, add comments when appropriate, and enjoy reading about what artists are putting out there. Sometimes just reading others get excited about music is enough to put a smile on my face. And then there is the 5% of times when Paul mentions something I am interested in too.

    If the article is about an artist/topic you’re not interested in, then don’t click on it. It’s simple enough. There’s certainly no need to rain on someone else’s parade.

  32. Pete {in Australia} says:

    As stated before my fav email of the day is Paul’s, whether I like the artist or NOT. So for me my fav Bowie album is “Scary Monsters”, followed by “Heroes” and then the compilation “All Saints”. for the first time, with pet Shop Boys, the jury is out, I think i have to have another listen to it, not that I do NOT like it, but just did not gel with it overall, on first listen. Excited about the Bob Dylan and Tom Petty release……..but am confused as to why, at this stage it is NOT released in Australia, where it was recorded. I was lucky enough to see this tour in Melbourne. In Sydney, Steve Nicks performed and then got into trouble with Music/Actors guild, due to permits or something, so in Melbourne she was NOT allowed to perform, but apparently was on the side of the stage watching!!!! Not sure if any of the tracks feature Stevie?

  33. John McAdam says:

    Hi all, have to admit that my favourite re releases from Bowie have been 5.1 surround sound ones, David Live, Stage, Young Americans being the best for me, I hope we get more of them in the future, would love to hear Low mixed in surround sound.

  34. Kris. Perth Australia says:

    Yes I am a massive David Bowie fan who owns all his albums , so why do I rate his Hunky Dory album as very close to my least liked album of his (definitely anyway of all his ’70’s albums) along with the Lets Dance, Tonight & Never Let Me Down ’80’s trilogy. Have really tried to like Hunky Dory but to no avail…sorry!

  35. Johnny Feathers says:

    I do find it interesting how Life on Mars? has become maybe THE Bowie standard. When I was first discovering him, and picked up ChangesBowie on CD, it wasn’t even on there–the only song from Hunky Dory was Changes. It wasn’t until I picked up Hunky Dory a few years later that I first heard the song. In recent years, though, it seems like it’s become his most acclaimed song, being heard on American Horror Story, Lorde’s tribute, and plenty other versions. (I saw Sinead O’Connor do it with a local Bowie cover band just a month or so ago, and it was incredible.) Now, I can’t imagine any “best of” compilation omitting the song.

  36. probablyrustin says:

    Emphasis on the MAYBE though… You could reasonably argue the same for “Heroes” (or even “Starman”)

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