Tag Archive: Tori Amos

#108: “Hunky Dory” by David Bowie


“There’s a starman waiting in the sky.  He like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.” — Z. Stardust

I took it pretty hard when David Bowie died back in January.  I responded by listening to Ziggy Stardust pretty much nonstop for weeks.  And of all the albums I’ve “discovered” so far by doing this blog, that one might be my favorite.  I haven’t brought myself to listen to his posthumous release, Blackstar, yet.  I guess I’m saving it for something.  I’m not sure what though.  Maybe I’m just avoiding the finality of it.  But 2016 has sadly been the year of artists passing, with Prince and Leonard Cohen among the musicians, and actors such as Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder.  And just yesterday, Carrie Fisher died.  Haven’t even really processed that one yet.  All of these celebrity deaths, along with the election results, have cast a pallor over 2016, and I hear lots of people just wanting the year to end so they can move on to 2017.  But actually, 2016 was a pretty memorable year for me: I got married, I got promoted, and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended the Land’s championship drought.  As such, despite all the other stuff, I’ll quote Tori Amos and say “well, still pretty good year”.

So I dug into Hunky Dory hoping to hear the same glam rock crunch and sing-a-long bar rock choruses of Ziggy Stardust, but I was actually a bit disappointed.  This precedes Ziggy by a year, and instead features a more art-house piano cabaret style on most of the songs.  There are a few exceptions, like “Changes” (which I reference often in this blog), “Life on Mars?”, and “Queen Bitch”, but for the most part coffee shop style poetry and odes to Andy Warhol and Robert Zimmerman.  I probably built this album up too much in my mind, and I thought it was good, but not great.  I got this in a lot with Ziggy Stardust on ebay for $10 (and I’m not proud to say I gifted the extra disc on Xmas, but hopefully Myoldestniecia is rocking out somewhere to “Suffragette City”).  I wanted this particular edition because it is the out-of-print Rykodisc version with bonus tracks, as opposed to the most recent Parlophone release with no bonus tracks and likely mp3 era remastering issues.  It lacks the lettering on the front cover (weird), but it also lacks a bar code on the back (coolio).

Other lists: “Changes” is #128 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes (ahem): Even the Starman cannot escape the power of Kid A (sounds like a comic book tagline) and drops one spot from its original position at #107.

My favourite track: “Quicksand”

Honourable mention: “Life on Mars?”

Quote: “I’m not a prophet or a stone age man, just a mortal with the potential of a superman.”

Led Zeppelin II

So 3 out of the last 11 albums have been Zeppelin records.  That’s a pretty good run.  So far I think only the Beatles, Dylan, and the Stones have as many records on the list.  Good company.  And it’s a good thing I dig Zep.  After writing about the first Led Zeppelin album, I went on a Zep spree and picked up all of their classic albums.  This was one I found at one of the local Half Price Books (I think it was the Lane Avenue store) for $6.99 (minus my 10% discount for inspiring the youth of America).  And it’s probably right up there with Zep I as my two favorite Zeppelin albums.  I think Jimmy Page was at his bluesiest when Zep first started, and I just love the dirty electric blues guitar riffs on this record, especially on “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker”.  And even though Robert Plant seemed busy writing sleazy innuendos on just about every song, he takes a break from the sexual metaphors to throw in his first Tolkien reference when he tries unsuccessfully to rescue a girl from Gollum in the “darkest depths of Mordor” in the song “Ramble On”.

Page and Plant also managed to write a pretty tender ballad in the song “Thank You”.  That was a song I actually discovered through Tori Amos back in college when I was going through a Tori phase mostly thanks to the Drama Queen.  The Tori version was on her “Crucify” single, which also featured stellar covers of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the Stones’ “Angie”.  When Tori covers a song, she completely reworks it (another incredible Tori cover is her version of “Losing My Religion” on the Higher Learning soundtrack), but on “Thank You” she is surprisingly faithful to the original.  And speaking of covers, on the With the Lights Out boxset (which is honestly a mostly terrible compilation), there is a cover of “Heartbreaker” done by a very young Nirvana as a request at a party happened to be playing.  You can tell Cobain doesn’t really know the song, but he goes to town on the riff, and you can hear where he started to develop that fat guitar sound that he perfected on Nevermind.  The influence of Zeppelin, baby…it’s everywhere!

Other lists: “Whole Lotta Love” is #75, “Heartbreaker” is #328, and “Ramble On” is #440 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  See the entry for Led Zeppelin I for Zep’s other honors and accolades.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped 4 spots from its original position at #75 due to the addition of CCR’s Chronicle and the rise of Radiohead’s Kid A, Paul Simon’s Graceland, and James Brown’s Star Time.

My favourite track: “Whole Lotta Love”

Honourable mention: “Ramble On”

Quote: “Got no time for spreadin’ roots, now it’s time to be gone.  And though our health we drank a thousand times, it’s time to ramble on.”