Hunky Dory, David Bowie’s classic album that yielded “Changes” and “Life on Mars?” will be the focus of an upcoming deluxe reissue that collects unreleased home demos, live recordings, radio sessions, and more from the rock legend’s fertile 1971.
Divine Symmetry (An Alternate Journey Through Hunky Dory), arriving Nov. 25 as a 4CD/1Blu-ray set, features 48 unreleased tracks in total, including Bowie’s own home and hotel recordings for tracks that wound up on Hunky Dory, as well as unreleased songs like “King of the City,” “Tired of My Life” (later partially revisited for Scary Monsters’ “It’s No Game”), “Right On Mother,” “How Lucky You Are (Miss Peculiar)” and more.
The additional discs are filled out with Bowie’s entire John Peel session from June 1971 — only a handful of the recordings previously appeared on the Bowie at the Beeb comp — plus additional never-officially-released BBC recordings, the unearthed BOWPROMO EP, single mixes, b-sides, and alternate versions of the Hunky Dory tracks.
Ahead of Divine Symmetry’s release, Parlaphone has shared Bowie’s unreleased rendition of Hunky Dory’s “Kooks” from the BBC’s Sounds of the 70s With Bob Harris:
The Blu-ray features the 2015 remastered version of Hunky Dory as well as the titular Divine Symmetry (An Alternate Journey Through Hunky Dory), a collection that reimagines Hunky Dory’s track list by using an unreleased version of each of the album’s 12 songs; that version of Divine Symmetry will also be released as a standalone vinyl in Feb. 2023.
Rounding out the deluxe box set is a 100-page hardback book featuring exclusive memorabilia and photos, as well as a 60-page replica composite of Bowie’s notebooks from the era featuring handwritten lyrics, costume drawings, recording notes, and set lists. Hunky Dory co-producer Ken Scott and Bowie’s friends, bandmates, and collaborators of the era also contribute liner notes to the collection.
Divine Symmetry (An Alternate Journey Through Hunky Dory) is available to preorder now through Bowie’s website, where you can also see the collection’s tracklist.
Hunky Dory placed at Number 88 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Bowie’s third-highest ranking LP behind Ziggy Stardust and Station to Station.
“David Bowie, then 24, arrived at the Hunky Dory cover shoot with a book of photographs of Marlene Dietrich: a perfect metaphor for this album’s visionary blend of gay camp, flashy rock guitar, and saloon-piano balladry. Bowie marked the polar ends of his artistic ambitions with tribute songs to Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol,” Rolling Stone wrote of the LP in 2020.
“In ‘Oh! You Pretty Things,’ ‘Quicksand,’ and ‘Changes’ he invented and perfected a new style of rock & roll glamour. On ‘Life on Mars?’ he sings to all the weirdos like himself, who feel like aliens on Earth. Soon an entire army of kids would attempt to remake themselves in his spangled image, proving his point.”