An 1898 Bechstein grand piano is just one of many stunning soundscapes on this LP
Classic Seventies Rock and Glam Rock
Bowie’s first album with Ken Scott is full of acoustic guitars, brilliant songs and the nascent star’s irresistible kookiness.
Few albums elicit as much affection as Hunky Dory and when you hear an LP with the sheer catchiness of Changes and Oh! You Pretty Things and then follow that double-whammy with Eight Line Poem and Life On Mars? – is it any wonder gazillions worship at its tuneful feet. Now it’s sparkles like never before.
When engineer Ray Staff returned to the tapes for the 2015 box set and subsequent 2016 vinyl repress – he did a stunning job. Every song feels like a revelation – the clavinet whimsy of Kooks – the ballsy kick out of the fabulous Queen Bitch – the huge acoustic on The Bewlay Brothers. Compared to the 1999 CD mix the bass and drums now have amazing clarity.
And then there’s the virtuosity of the key players – Rick Wakeman (Yes) so subtle/commercially upbeat on keyboards throughout Changes, and producer Ken Scott perfectly marrying Bowie’s restrained vocal with those huge Mick Ronson acoustic guitars on Quicksand.
Weirdness is never far from the surface: “it’s War Hole actually, as in Holes!” he protests in the intro to Andy Warhol – a chat between DB and Ken Scott. Bowie gives it some vocal warble on Fill Your Heart - the only cover on the album and his musical soul mate Ronson shines on Song For Bob Dylan – the guitar managing to be warm one second then hard hitting the next.