it seems hard to believe, given the career full of revolutionary and hugely influential stylistic shifts that followed, that this superb record was only david bowie's fourth. yet hunky dory ranks alongside ziggy stardust, low, and scary monsters as one of bowie's finest and most consistent albums. ironically, it is one of the artist's least rock-oriented efforts, bearing little relation to what came before or after in his discography. instead, hunky dory covers a wide range of styles from operatic pop ("life on mars?") to low-key folk ("quicksand") to english music hall ditties ("kooks"). there are standout tracks, most notably the glam-rock anthem "oh, you pretty things!" and the chugging, life-affirming "changes", which went on to become one of bowie's all-time signature songs. but hunky dory is solid from beginning to end, thanks to the fine musicians, bowie's excellent songwriting, and the artist's now-mature sense of performance. these qualities fold such wild cards as the tongue-in-cheek celebrity send-up "andy warhol", the psychedelic folk of "the bewlay brothers", and exuberant jam of "queen bitch", the album's only overt rocker, neatly into the deck, making for the first of bowie's truly indisputable masterpieces.