The album was released 44 years ago today
Andrew Trendell

13:13 17th December 2015

17 December: On this day in 1971, Bowie dropped one of the greatest albums of all time - the one that saw him finally threatening to become a household name and ever-lasting global icon, Hunky Dory. Containing some of his finest songs from 'Life On Mar's to 'Changes', it is regarded by many to be his greatest album. 

With 'Lazarus' from Blackstar dropping today, we must remember how Bowie is an artist who never stops changing, creating and mattering - and Hunky Dory is the classic record that saw him fully realise his potential. 

So, to mark it's anniversary, we've ranked all of the tracks on Hunky Dory from worst to best. 

  • 11. 'Fill Your Heart': A cover of a track Biff Rose and Paul Williams, naturally The Thin White Duke's songwriting genius is absent - but he translates it so well into something that feels so swinging, insane and quintessentially Bowie.

  • 10. 'Song For Bob Dylan': Paying tribute to the great man by referencing Dylan's own 1962 homage to Woody Guthrie, 'Song to Woody', this is a slow-burning aching glam-rock epic, and you can tell the embryonic origins of 'All The Young Dudes', but Bowie soars far, far higher than this on Hunky Dory.

  • 9. 'Eight Line Poem': One of the more esoteric moments on Hunky Dory, allowing for Bowie's more subtle wisdom to creep in on this aching and cinematic lament. Lovely stuff.

  • 8. 'Life On Mars': A 20th century classic and piece of musical history, Bowie looks to the universe, away from the dystopian present of the horror of modern media. An incredible moment that gave rise to Ziggy Stardust and made Bowie an icon, but don't let it overshadow some of the finer, more underrated moments on Hunky Dory.

  • 7. 'The Bewlay Brothers': Regarded by many Bowie fanatics as his greatest ever song, it takes the listener on a mini-Odyssey of sound - from folk to space rock and everything in between. It's also typical Bowie nonsense, claiming that the lyrics 'make absolutely no sense' and writing in 2008: "I wouldn't know how to interpret the lyric of this song other than suggesting that there are layers of ghosts within it. It's a palimpsest, then."

  • 6. 'Andy Warhol': A flamenco drenched earworm in honour of one of Bowie's biggest inspirations, where man and art become one - and Bowie would then do so himself.

  • 5. 'Kooks': One of the most charming and heart-warming tracks in the Bowie canon, proving that there's nothing extraordinary about being ordinary - let's all be kooks.

  • 4. 'Quicksand': Taking in Nietzsche, Himmler, Budda and Churchill, Bowie reflects on mortality in this utterly entrancing existential anthem. One of his most underrated moments - pure genius.

  • 3. 'Oh! You Pretty Things': Never before had rock been so free, adventurous and driven by pure abandon.

  • 2. 'Queen Bitch': The track that set the template for scores of glam rock copyists for generations to come, one of the greatest riffs of all time and the burst of life that would soon bloom into Ziggy. Put this on and try not to dance - we challenge you.

  • 1. 'Changes': No one has shifted shapes as many times as rock's chameleon, Sir David Bowie - and this inescapable manifestation of Bowie realising his full, unstoppable potential makes for the ultimate soundtrack to evolving with the times. As Bowie himself once said: "Tomorrow belongs to those who hear it coming."

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Photo: Press/WENN