January 13, 2014

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 32: David Bowie 1 ~ Hunky Dory

photo by Brian Ward
album cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

I have hundreds of reel-to-reel, pre-recorded tapes in addition to my 20,000 Vinyl LP collection I'm selling. This is an entry about one of them (links below). Hunky Dory, the first of my David Bowie, reel-to-reel tapes, up for sale on eBay; it went up on February 15, 2014 and ran for 10 days. I will have other David Bowie reel-to-reel tapes on eBay for sale (see links below). Interested? Contact me by email not by comments, please. Thank you.

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Hunky Dory is the fourth album by English singer-songwriter, David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1971. It was his first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade.

The style of the album cover was influenced by a Marlene Dietrich photo book that Bowie took with him to the photo shoot.

 reel-to-reel tape, front cover
Front cover art work:
George Underwood and Terry Pastor
of Main Artory, London
photo by Brian Ward
photo of box cover by Styrous®

In Hunky Dory, Bowie paid tribute to his influences with the tracks, Song for Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol and Queen Bitch which was inspired by the Velvet Underground. Kooks was dedicated to his son, known to the world as Zowie Bowie but legally named Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones. This is a happy album at times. It has light, freedom and great inspiration at other times.

Kooks is a pretty neat song! It is a bouncy and happy tune that makes you want to get up and move; better yet, DANCE. Fill Your Heart is in the same category; a happy song that has some terrific piano playing by, I presume, Rick Wakeman.

Oh! You Pretty Things, with lyrics, inspired by Nietzsche, that predicted the replacement of modern man by "the Homo Superior", and which has been cited as a direct precursor to "Starman" from Bowie's follow up album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  I always loved the great easy-paced tempo that made it good for slow dancing or some good, old fashioned bump 'n grind.

Changes was the major hit from this album with Bowie on sax again. Queen Bitch is, well, bitchin'! What more can I say?

Quicksand is a very beautiful but a very strange song. It has a lovely string orchestra with cello and piano backup. It has a dreamy quality to it but the lyrics completely throw me off. But, as with very many other songs whose lyrics I've not understood or liked, I've loved it for its musicality and the lyrics have become abstract for me. I've included them below.

Andy Warhol is, of course, a pretty whacky tune! It has an echoey sax, electronics and vocal fooling-around dialogue intro (almost a minute). Once into the song, it's ONLY guitars with some nice tambourine work and hand-clapping. There's some really terrific guitar work in it. I've always thought it a bit Español because of the hand-claps and tambourine. A very good song for a mellow or slow dance. I like it a lot and it's probably my favorite on the album.

Life On Mars? is a slow, dramatic song with a great piano (by Rick Wakeman) and an orchestral backup. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph ranked it as #1 in his 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list. The BBC Radio has described Life on Mars? as having "one of the strangest lyrics ever" consisting of a "slew of surreal images" like a Salvador Dalí painting. The line "Look at those cavemen go" is a reference to the song "Alley Oop", a one-off hit in 1960 for American doo-wop band The Hollywood Argyles. The BBC Radio 2 called it "a cross between a Broadway musical and a Salvador Dalí painting." (I think that's a pretty good review. if you ask me.) There's a really cool promotional video for the song Mick Rock filmed and directed at Earls Court, in London, England, on 12 May, 1973, to accompany the release of the song as a single. It features a heavily made-up Bowie performing the song solo against a white backdrop, in a turquoise "ice-blue" suit designed by Freddi Buretti (link to the video below).

There is a postcard in the reel-to-reel box for information on other reel-to-reel tapes in the RCA catelogue.  Pretty cool stuff for a vinyl junkie. 

RCA catalog order card
photo by Styrous®

 reel-to-reel tape, back cover
photo by Brian Ward
photo of box cover by Styrous®

reel-to-reel tape back cover detail
photo by Brian Ward
photos of tape box back cover by Styrous®

I love the " . . . less complicated piano parts" notation

" . . . less complicated piano parts"
reel-to-reel tape back cover detail
photos of tape box back cover by Styrous®

reel-to-reel tape back cover detail
photo by Brian Ward
photos of tape box back cover by Styrous®

photo by Styrous®

 reel-to-reel tape label detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Quicksand Lyrics:

I'm closer to the Golden Dawn
Immersed in Crowley's uniform
Of imagery
I'm living in a silent film
Himmler's sacred realm
Of dream reality
I'm frightened by the total goal
Drawing to the ragged hole
And I ain't got the power anymore
No I ain't got the power anymore

I'm the twisted name
on Garbo's eyes
Living proof of
Churchill's lies
I'm destiny
I'm torn between the light and dark
Where others see their targets
Divine symmetry
Should I kiss the viper's fang
Or herald loud
the death of Man
I'm sinking in the quicksand
of my thought
And I ain't got the power anymore

Don't believe in yourself
Don't deceive with belief
Knowledge comes
with death's release

I'm not a prophet
or a stone age man
Just a mortal
with the potential of a superman
I'm living on
I'm tethered to the logic
of Homo Sapien
Can't take my eyes
from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith
If I don't explain what you ought to know
You can tell me all about it
On, the next Bardo
I'm sinking in the quicksand
of my thought
And I ain't got the power anymore

Track listing:

All songs written by David Bowie, except where noted.
Side one:
  1. "Changes" – 3:37
  2. "Oh! You Pretty Things" – 3:12
  3. "Eight Line Poem" – 2:55
  4. "Life on Mars?" – 3:53
  5. "Kooks" – 2:53
  6. "Quicksand" – 5:08
Side two:
  1. "Fill Your Heart" (Biff Rose, Paul Williams) – 3:07
  2. "Andy Warhol" – 3:56
  3. "Song for Bob Dylan" – 4:12
  4. "Queen Bitch" – 3:18
  5. "The Bewlay Brothers" – 5:22



    Hunky Dory was recorded at Trident Studios in Soho (in the West End of London), in April of 1971 and was released on the 17th of December, 1971, by RCA Records.

    A GEM Production
    RCA Limited, Record Division,
    RCA House, Curzon Street, London W1.
    ©1971 RCA Limited
    Remixed at Trident Studios, London.
    Printed in England by Robert Stace.

    Music links:

    Andy Warhol on YouTube
    Life on Mars?   on YouTube
    Hunky Dory (full album) on YouTube
    Kooks on YouTube
    Queen Bitch on YouTube
    Quicksand on YouTube
    Changes on YouTube
    Changes (live) on YouTube
    Oh! You Pretty Things on YouTube

    Dates the David Bowie reel-to-reel tapes will be on eBay:

    February 15, 2014    Hunky Dory
    March 15, 2014    Man Who Sold the World, The
    May 15, 2014    Aladdin Sane
    June 15, 2014    Pinups
    July 15, 2014    Space Oddity


    David Bowie ~ Hunky Dory on eBay

    other reel-to-reel tapes on eBay

    Styrous® ~ January 13, 2014


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