Unsure if many of you know this, but David Bowie's Hunky Dory was always going to be Record Of The Month in January 2022. It's a time we've patiently been awaiting and had planned to assign for as long as we've been here.
So why did we choose it, exactly?
It just turned 50. Originally released on December 17, 1971, the album turned 50 in late 2021. This is a fact made all that more astounding while listening to it. It feels current, its themes fit into today like a glove as do the challenges we face and seem to be confronting at the moment.
January is Bowie's birth-month. His birthday is the 8th to be precise, and alas, had our bosses dear Mum held on for a few extra hours, he would be sharing the day with the man himself (and also, Elvis Presley). In fact, Bowie would often schedule releases during Capricorn season, around his birthday. Most notably of all, in fact, his final album - Blackstar - had a rollout campaign that saw singles released the day before with the album itself dropping on his birthday. In what felt like an elaborate scheme to go out in style at the time, his tragic and untimely death occurred only two days later.
It's synonymous with one of the big years of music. Hunky Dory IS one of the main reasons 1971 is recognised as one of the finest in music history.
It signified a shift in Bowie. In 1971, David Bowie was not the well-recognised icon as we associate him today. He was more or less a folky singer/songwriter, but with clever lyrics which set him apart from his contemporaries and promised a bright future. But no one could've predicted this album back then. A hungry Bowie was without record deal and, at the time, it wasn't long ago he was "dustbin shopping" with Marc Bolan of T-Rex fame. Coincidentally, 1971 was also the year Bolan's band released the classic Electric Warrior signifying an intense fandom from teenage girls that was dubbed the "second coming of Beatlemania".
It is owed a great deal of debt from sins committed in 1971. Shame on you music consumers of 1971! Believe it or not, the album didn't do so well upon its time of release. It sold poorly and didn't chart at all, while RCA, who did sign to release the record, did very little to promote it, feeling Bowie was close to a drastic image shift. But just over six months later after the release of The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars, Hunky Dory would experience a commercial breakthrough before ultimately becoming one of the most critically-acclaimed records ever.
One of the best sides of any record ever. Seriously though, if you can provide argue for a better one, we're listening.
Its track list is a veritable embarrassment of riches. Check it - 'Changes', 'Life On Mars', 'Kooks' (personal favourite), 'Quicksand', 'Oh! You Pretty Things' and a trio of tunes inspired by and dedicated to three American icons: Bob Dylan ('Song For Bob Dylan'), Andy Warhol ('Andy Warhol') and Lou Reed ('Queen Bitch'). Not to mention 'The Bewlay Brothers', one of Bowie's most mystifying songs ever that has us thinking about final tracks and why they are placed there.
It's one of the best ever. But really, do we need to explain ourselves. It is acknowledged as on of the greatest albums of all-time, but music is subjective and it's all personal, isn't it?