Julian Cope’s Album of the Month
|1969||1.||Tyrannosaurus Rex||King of the Rumbling Spires (2.10)|
|1970||2.||The Move||When Alice Comes Back to the Farm (3.44)|
|1971||3.||John Kongos||He’s Gonna Step on You Again (4.24)|
|1972||4.||Tiger B. Smith||Tiger Rock (5.17)|
|1972||5.||Pussy||Feline Woman (2.28)|
|1972||6.||Lucifer||Fuck You (4.53)|
|1973||7.||White Witch||Class of 2000 (6.15)|
|1973||8.||Jobriath||World Without End (3.45)|
|1973||9.||Silverhead||16 & Savaged (4.26)|
|1973||10.||Amon Düül 2||Jalousie (3.29)|
|1973||11.||Argent||God Gave Rock’n’roll to You (6.41)|
|1974||13.||Mustard||Good Time Comin’ (2.33)|
|1974||14.||Iron Virgin||Rebels Rule (3.12)|
|1975||16.||Neil Merryweather||The Groove (5.32)|
|1975||17.||Be Bop Deluxe||Swansong (5.53)|
|1975||18.||Seventh Wave||Star Palace of the Sombre Warrior (3.12)|
|1975||19.||Dictators||Master Race Rock (4.17)|
|1976||20.||Rik Kenton||The Libertine (3.21)|
|1976||21.||Kiss||Great Expectations (4.24)|
|1976||22.||The Runaways||Dead End Justice (6.10)|
|1976||23.||Chrome||My Time to Live (4.21)|
|1976||24.||Doctors of Madness||Mainlines (15.46)|
Sha Na Na at Woodstock
By late 1969, those murders perpetrated by the Hell’s Angels at the Rolling Stones’ infamous Altamont Festival, and by the Manson Family out in the Hollywood Hills, were taxing the Utopianism of even the most idealistic Hippies. Pushing forwards, ever onwards into new territories of Avant-Garde Psychedelic Rock, the practise of Free Love, and Student Protests & Riots against Anti-Capitalism: all had been de rigueur across the world throughout 1965-66-67-68. But 1969 was the year the freight train hit the bumpers, the year in which even Rock’s hardiest experimentalists ceased to proceed exclusively forwards… the murders, the cash-ins, the hypes, the rip-offs… where in Hell was this so-called Alternative Society headed? Instead, adventurous rock’n’rollers in need of a Utopian goal sought solace in that summer’s first NASA moon-landing. For poets and singers of the new myth, our polluted and post-atomic world was apparently dying before our very eyes, and space exploration was to be humanity’s saviour. As the heroes-of-choice for teenage boys, the gentlemen of NASA temporarily eclipsed even our beloved Rockstars because they were just as mysterious, wore even wackier outfits, controlled bigger budgets, and they were pushing humanity forwards in a highly visible manner… and boy, were they using technology!1 And so, knee-deep in the carnage of ’69, all the freaks looked back for inspiration, seeking brief sanctuary in revivalist performances of the wild original 1950s Rock’n’Roll which had set them on the road in the first place. New megastars Led Zeppelin – inspired no doubt by the Jeff Beck Group’s wild stomping strung-out version of the King’s ‘All Shook Up’ – regularly included their own live versions of Elvis songs, whilst Black Sabbath included a jaunty version of Carl Perkins’ ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ among their live set’s knuckle-dragging blues epics. In 1969, Prog Rock behemoths Vanilla Fudge abandoned entirely their 1967/68 classical pretensions (example titles: ‘Variation on a Theme from Mozart’s Divertimento #13’, ‘Beethoven’s fur Leise and Theme from Moonlight Sonata’) and spectacular cultural conceits (my fave title has to be ‘Voices in Time: Neville Chamberlain-Winston Churchill-Franklin Roosevelt-Harry S. Truman’): all was jettisoned in favour of calling their 1969 album (get this!) ROCK & ROLL… talk about abandoning ship! Indeed, within months the Vanilla Fudge rhythm section had formed Cactus, whose gasoline guzzlin’ repertoire included stomping versions of Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘You Can’t Judge a Book By Looking at the Cover’. And whilst John Ono Lennon still flew the freak flag with his 1969 Yoko-inspired avant-garde projects, even the Beatles themselves returned to the safety of their raw rock’n’roll roots for their post-WHITE ALBUM recordings, John and Paul even daring to record one of their own early originals ‘One After 909’ for their final LP. And where the Beatles went, so the Beatles Watchers followed. The Move’s Roy Wood threw off his 1968 obsessions with Love, Buffalo Springfield and the West Coast Scene, greased back his long flowing hair, and proceeded to barf forth his own radically Futuristic versions of ‘50s Rock’n’Roll in a style that was sultry, alien and brand new. ‘When Alice Comes Back to the Farm’ sounded as though it had been fed through a Phil Spector or Joe Meek filter, while the Move’s 1970 single ‘Brontosaurus’ featured ‘50s elements that were performed so pointedly and slowed down to such a crawl that they even rivalled the sludge-trudge of fellow Brummies B. Sabbath.2 But surely the greatest evidence of the Counter Culture’s outright N E E D to cosy up with the recent past was the appearance at Woodstock of Teddy Boy group Sha Na Na. For this motley bunch of revivalists with neither a Top 50 hit nor a successful LP to their name, and at the biggest and most legendary ‘60s Hippie festival of all, played their set of nine old ‘50s covers not early in the day, but high on the bill of the last night, sandwiched between new superstars Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young3 and Jimi Hendrix, whose performance concluded the entire three-day event! It was only 104 days until the ‘70s began, and the band second from the top of the most legendary ‘60s fezzy ever was going down a storm playing ‘At The Hop’, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Teen Angel’. Mercy.
In 1971, German’s Tiger B. Smith was where Glam Rock interfaced with brutal Hard Rock.
Opportunistic Glam Rock cover for the Edgar Winter Group’s 1972 LP THEY ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT.
Movie style poster for Lou Reed’s 1973 BERLIN epic.
Future-Retro Dystopians, or ‘A generation of Face-painted Frankensteins at the Crossroads of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and the Moon Landing’
And so, as evidenced above, when film director Todd Haynes revised Glam Rock’s roots into some Utopian Gay Impulse with his 1998 movie VELVET GOLDMINE, he was swimming against the tide of evidence in favour of a romantic theory that suited his own sexuality.8 Of course, we now know from the biographies that many of the main protagonists of Glam Rock dabbled in homosexuality, but they were clearly just being swept along by the spirit of the time. This spirit was driven not by the artists themselves, but by their gay retainers and designers (such as former Andy Warholites Tony Zanetta, Leee [sic] Black Childers and Wayne County) then goaded into even more radical action by muses such as Marc Bolan’s partner June Child and David Bowie’s wife Angela. Yes, wives! For even during this exceptionally free period in Western Culture, the main protagonists of Glam Rock - Messrs. Bolan, Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop were all married. That the surge of Glam Rock made gay liberation a real possibility is undeniable, but it certainly wasn’t the genre’s primary impulse. Most of all, Glam Rock was not a new impulse at all. It was just about getting rock music back on the highway and out of the muddy gulleys & gutters that honest singer-songwriters (ouch!) and authentic bluesmen (wince!) such as Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Rory Gallagher had steered it into. As Oscar Wilde had noted: “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” “This ain’t a parody,” sang Silverhead. So, far from heralding anything truly new, Glam Rock was actually a return to the Traditional; Glam Rock was a glittering paladin of rock’n’roll’s core Sat-day Night Entertainment values: preaching sex, sleight-of-hand & oblivion. It was about returning rock’n’roll to its natural Little Richardian showbiz path, a path it never woulda left if in the first place if those shitty so-called serious artists (Cream? I shit’em) had not waylaid the population with their faded denim proto-Coldplay honesty and minging blues authenticity. And the evidence for my claims? Why, the evidence litters the early 1960s. Audiences of that period demanded such glamour and show from their rock’n’rollers that groups were often able to disguise their feeble playing simply by dressing up as… well, you name it! Top of the list was the artless proto-Alice Cooper ‘horror rock’ of Screaming Lord Sutch, whose band travelled throughout 1961-2 in an ambulance surmounted by a huge pink crocodile, and whose stage act included arriving via a coffin and wearing ‘large bull horns, monster feet and two-foot-long hair’. Horror movies also inspired the frock coats and top hats of Jackie Lomax’s beat group The Undertakers, who arrived at shows in a hearse throughout 1963. No, this was not yet Glam Rock, but such extreme showmanship soon goaded others to new highs and lows. Also in 1963, future counter culture mainstay Twink signed to Decca Records with his controversial R&B outfit The Fairies, which featured future Mott The Hoople organist Mick ‘Blue’ Weaver, while Yorkshire’s The Quare Fellows sported bleached hair and outrageous clothes. Thereafter, Beatlemania’s overwhelming influence temporarily tamed allcomers (foisting neatnik suits on to all but the wildest), until idiot savagery returned with the Pretty Things’ outrageously long hair, and manifesting in the Rolling Stones’ outright transvestism for the cover of their 1966 single ‘Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby (Standing in the Shadows)’. If anything, Glam Rock was about pretending to be homosexual in order to further threaten an already intimidated straight world, a concept totally in keeping with the Total Wind-Up style of the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and the band’s mid-60s teenage manager Andrew Loog Oldham, and brilliantly executed in William Burroughs’ turn-of-the-decade novel THE WILD BOYS, whose dystopian future vision depicted Western cities through which hordes of lawless gay boys Teenage Rampaged in packs. “Why you all got long hair?” a nervous Essex voice asks the Yardbirds on their terminal 45 ‘Happenings Ten Years Time Ago. “I bet you do alright with the crumpet, dontcha?” he continues, semi-sarcastically and semi-obsequiously. Fear of being ritually bummed by hip teenagers … the man down the pub’s ultimate nightmare.
Another fake movie poster for Mainman artist Mick Ronson’s debut LP.
Just another painted guitarist: Bob Markie of Skyhooks in 1974.
Anyway, let’s get on now with describing what goes on in this here GLAMROCKSAMPLER, the contents of which appear in chronological order:
1. Tyrannosaurus Rex – King of the Rumbling Spires (1969)
This compilation commences with Tyrannosaurus Rex’s incredible 1969 single ‘King of the Rumbling Spires’, the fourth and final release with original percussionist Steve Peregrine Took, and a song on which Marc Bolan anticipated Adam & the Ants’ entire Burundi schtick over a decade early. Replete with heavy bass from producer Tony Visconti and exhibiting a whole new arsenal of orchestral concussion quite unlike those showcased on earlier releases, ‘King of the Rumbling Spires’ exudes a rush and a roar, nay, a sheer obstinate otherness quite unlike anything anyone (Bolan included) had achieved before. Abounding with bizarre ‘tween-time key changes, keyboard gimmickry and brutal stop start rhythms, this single release unleashed a legion of possibilities on to the post-Hippy world, and then some.
2. The Move – When Alice Comes Back to the Farm (1970)
Even hairier but not nearly as pretty as Marc Bolan, the Move’s Roy Wood had kept his Brummie bad lads in the charts these past three years only through sheer ingenuity and eclecticism. But the latter was defeating him and spreading his Muse far too thin. However, when the Beatles returned to rock’n’roll in 1969, Fab Four watcher Wood returned to his Ur-Fave like a Duck’s Arse to water. Only Wood’s damned annoying eclecticism stood between us and a whole LP of his exquisite heavy arrangements like ‘When Alice Comes Back to the Farm’, ‘Brontosaurus’ and ‘Don’t Make My Baby Blue’ (See HARDROCKSAMPLER). ‘When Alice Comes Back to the Farm’ is a Sid James of a song, its riffs gnarled and toughened with usage. Yet its tempo changes and constant gearshifts are truly what make the song for me. Somehow, its rhythms also anticipate D. Bowie’s ZIGGY-period (especially ‘Star’) and the track powers through with an unbelievably oily engine room ruggedness.
3. John Kongos – He’s Gonna Step On You Again (1971)
Now, as mentioned earlier, we only have to make a cursory scan of the evidence to see that Glam Rock’s Marc Bolan roots lay deep in the late ‘60s Utopian ‘street’-style of agit-folk singers such as Donovan, PF Sloan and New York’s own proto-punk outlaw David Peel, whose own metaphor had of late been appropriated by John ‘Legendary Stardust’ Lennon for deployment during his Me & the Missus & Ten Score Celebrity Percussionists-period with the Plastic Ono Band’s protest Love-In sing-a-longs such as ‘Give Peace A Chance’, ‘Instant Karma’ and ‘Power To The People’. It was upon this Commune/Commie wave that John Kongos surfed in on, scoring two big hits in 1971 with ‘Tokoloshe Man’ and his Ode to The Man entitled ‘He’s Gonna Step On You Again’. Kongos’ own success inspired contemporary rebel Commie activist duos Third World War (Fly label mates from Notting Hill) and Tokyo’s Zuno Keisatsu AKA Brain Police. Happy Mondays’ baggy versh was similarly monumental AND was bound to a similarly barmy scene.
4. Tiger B. Smith – Tiger Rock (1972)
Germany’s Tiger B. Smith anticipated Gene’n’Paul’s Kiss ultra-metaphor way back in ’72 as evidenced by this track from their 1972 debut LP TIGER ROCK. Herein, over riffing so basic every ‘70s toddler with a kazoo wouldn’a tried in case his childminder figured him a retard, singer/guitarist Holger Schmidt declares that the woman who adores him must look elsewhere because he’s the Tiger and has to be free. Schmidt then proceeds to ram the point home with the incessant barrage of spew listed below:
‘Ain’t gonna do it,
Just will not do it, Just will not do, I just can’t do it,
Can’t make me do it,
I will not do it,
Just will not do it,
Just will not do it,
Can’t make me do it” (x 32 at the very least)
Ah, what depths of Human Condition lurk & linger at the interface of Heavy Metal and Glam Rock. ‘Tiger Rock’ is as devolved and lowgrade as Bang’s tortuous slave-metal riffing on their sub-sub-Ace Frehley mind-death fry-up ‘Future Shock’.
5. Pussy – Feline Woman (1972)
Hot on their tail are the inimitably-named power trio ‘Pussy’, whose sole 1972 Deram 45 ‘Feline Woman’ was produced by Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan. Vocally, this bunch sound Hispanic though I know they ain’t, as the rhythm section belonged to the London band Jerusalem. Weird how Purple’s ex-Episode Six members (Gillan and Roger Glover) both became adept at producing. Anyway, I digress. From Pussy, we move to Lucifer’s Porno-Rock, as it was billed at the time.
6. Lucifer – Fuck You (1972)
Worthy of a place in this GLAMROCKSAMPLER if only for its astonishing Cocksucker Blues-like seediness, ‘Fuck You’ by lone wolf Lucifer is a slice of Avant-Blues of the kind that commune bands such as Shagrat probably made every night of their lives. Releasing this shit on 7” is another thing again, however, and the record was advertised only in the back pages of certain music and sex mags. I very much dig its aweful eternities of silence and its final rhymes immensely, but the spoken final verse is truly one of rock’n’roll’s most brutally harrowing moments. Nice.
7. White Witch – Class of 2000 (1973)
Next, let me tell you about White Witch and how this Georgia Glam Rock ensemble navigated the storms of being from the southern United States. Led by occultist Ronn Goedert, the Witch cleverly kept their fagginess of the Alice Cooper/Silverhead/Rolling Stones variety and signed to Capricorn Records, thereby gaining a little of the Allman Brothers’ respectability. Coupled with a huge dedication to describing their pot intake and a tendency to lapse into late ‘60s cosiness, White Witch nevertheless contained in Ronn Goedert a sometimes shamanic singer, whose outrageous vocal delivery occasionally outdid even Sir Lord Baltimore’s John Garner. The track contained herein is from their second (and highly patchy) LP A SPIRITUAL GATHERING, and showcases Goedert’s voice at its most elatingly elastic.
8. Jobriath – World Without End (1973)
Now, if ever there was clear proof that Glam Rock should never be revised as having been a historically Gay Phenomenon, then it’s revealed right here in the career of Jobriath, the hapless (though supremely talented) Texan songwriter whom Elektra Records signed as the USA’s first openly gay performer. Sure, his debut album was patchy and swamped by hype (did he really sign for $500,000?). But Jobriath’s rich muse was not deserving of such a truly horrific outcome, one in which the poor lad was so psychically battered that he crawled back into his exquisite shell and refused thereafter to sing any of his songs ever again, living out the remainder of his tragic life singing torch cover songs under the name Cole Berlin, before dying prematurely of AIDS in 1982. Yes, Jobriath’s music was confused but some of that Texan yawp at times displayed a pure Roky Erikson-ness that was as crystal clear as their shared Ur-ancestor Buddy Holly. Moreover, this track ‘World Without End’ anticipated the Krautfunk of D. Bowie’s 1975 LP STATIONTOSTATION fully 24 months in advance of the Tin White Machine himself.
Silverhead’s well well dodgy cover for ‘73’s 16 & SAVAGED
Being a real life Marquis really stopped Michael Des Barres from properly making it; he just didn’t NEED to slum it as he was already rich. Which is a shame, because when he was hard-working he was superb, as evidenced by the extremely dubious but highly hilarious second album front cover. Anyway, here’s the title-track of that aforementioned LP, and what a megastomp it is! Imagine ROCKS-period Joe Perry playing a Jimmy Page Zepp riff, plus some of the really fine overdriven Hammond that Tony Kaye played occasionally on early Yes records. Nice? Superbe!
10. Amon Düül 2 – Jalousie (1973)
By 1973, the Glam Rock virus had so taken hold of the music business that even arch Progressive Underground tsars Amon Düül 2 made a so-called Glam album entitled VIVE LA TRANCE. Of course, being German allowed their uncomprehending musicians to dress as characters from the Wizard of Oz so long as singer Renate shopped at Biba and there was enough tin foil, snakeskin and platform boots in evidence. On VIVE LA TRANCE, Amon Düül 2 sustained a particularly high level of songwriting for a bunch right out of the Commune scene, none more so than this proto-Kate Bush ballad. Ad I’d rather have had this in the UK charts back in the day than fucking ‘S-s-s-single Bed’ by Noosha Fox. As ever, Peter Leopold’s urgently lyrical free drumming propels the band in an outrageous manner, as beautiful Renate caterwauls in her best and most Brechtian manner.
11. Argent – God Gave Rock’n’roll to You (1973)
If we choose to continue to mine for gems at the Prog/Glam Interface, we next find a wonderfully arch (and almost unnecessarily rousing) chorus emanating from Argent’s beatific 45 ‘God Gave Rock’n’Roll to You’. Written by the band’s guitarist Russ Ballard and here rendered in its full near-7-minute album length glory, this song highlights Glam Rock’s old age phenomenon perfectly. For Ballard had commenced his professional musician career back in 1961, strumming for Adam Faith, and still performed with too much of that overly smiley uncool, grimacing self-consciously whenever he realised he should be giving it loads of J. Morrison cheekbones. But despite Russ’ tendency to come over like a Roy Orbison/Hank Marvin who’d been immersed in a family-size bottle of Jeff Beck, his long years in the mid-60s Beat wilderness invoked in him an almost mawkish sense of self-pity similar to that of Ian Hunter, and one which manifested in ridiculously poignant and anthemic rock ballads, all arranged with band co-leader and former Zombie Rod Argent. It’s surely Ballard’s long career experience that gives the guitar solo herein such a plaintive quality, treading a line between Mott’s Mick Ralphs and Tony Peluso’s exhilarating fuzz tailout on the Carpenters’ ‘Goodbye to Love’. That Argent’s biggest (and best known) hit ‘Hold Your Head Up’ had been written by Rod’s former Zombie colleague Chris White must have been a constant pain to Ballard, who made up for it thereafter by spewing out hit after vapid bombastic hit for such acts as Rainbow (‘Since You’ve Been Gone’), Hot Chocolate, and Kiss’ Ace Frehley via Hullo (‘New York Groove’). Indeed, the un-masked Kiss themselves re-wrote this here Argent hit for their own versh in the 1990s, replacing Ballard’s mysterious lyric ‘love Cliff Richard but please don’t tease’ with something far more Yank friendly. Oh, and check out Youtube for some well dodgy miming on OGWT!
Three times hitless Dutch Glam failure Pantherman.
As we move now into 1974, I should mention that the Melody Maker review of the first Queen LP was captioned ‘The Fag-end of Glam’. That was late summer ’73 and yet we’re barely halfway through this Glam-trawl. Okay, next up, we have the Netherlands’ own singular version of Glam Rock in the form of ‘Pantherman’, a spirited though direct rip-off of Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’ performed on Polydor Records by one-man Glam Rock band Pantherman. Like Tiger B. Smith before him, Frank ‘Pantherman’ Klunhaar was clearly so full of feline attitude that he just couldn’t wait to 1) ‘show you my paws’ and 2) ‘show you my claws’. Hell kiddies, once you fall victim to that hookline (‘I’m gonna bite you!’) you can see why the Dutch media ignored it. Stranger still, then, that Klunhaar struggled on through a coupla further flop 45s before (in his own words), he “decided to put down the Pantherman mask because the concept had not proven very successful.”
13. Mustard – Good Time Comin’ (1974)
This next one is British, circa 1974 and on EMI. Now, what was it about the Glam Rock metaphor that enabled totally mechanical, robot-like stompathons such as this is to sit so snugly alongside the music and poetry of singularly beautiful misfits such as Messrs Bolan, Bowie, Harley & Nelson? Mustard belongs to the Blackfoot Sue school of Moronick Toss, and clatters along like a Creedence cassette demo with Kiss’ Paul Starchild Stanley on lead larynx. Sometimes, the waferthin line between Hard Rock and Glam Rock snags, and bands such as Mott the Hoople, Murahatchibu and Mustard slip through. Uncanny.
14. Iron Virgin – Rebels Rule ((1974)
Spare a thought for the progeny of Edinburgh’s Iron Virgin, whose secondary educations would have been constantly marred by having to defend dad’s dodgy ‘70s decision to wear a chastity belt inscribed with the legend ‘KEEP OUT!’ Yup, a Glam Rock band without hits is like a porn star without tits, and Iron Virgin’s debut 45 – a cover of Sir Macca’s ‘Jet’ – was totally fucking buried when the Wings original charted barely a month later. This hasty follow-up received plenny radio play but still died a death, leaving da Virgin rudderless and adrift with nowt but a pile o’platforms waiting to be re-heeled. Damn good song, though; reminds me of the Human League’s daft-but-epic ‘Empire State Human’ or even something by early Valerian-period Gazza Numan.
15. Dump – Annabella (1975)
Next up, we got old Pantherman’s sibling on the deck. Yup, Dump is more of the Nederlanders’ take on Glam, and their all-purpose 1975 single ‘Annabella’ covers just about every Glam Rock cliché. Commencing just like the Partridge Family’s ‘I Think I Love You’, the band’s singers thereafter – over a crunching cycle of different glitter tempos – run through a gamut of emotions ranging from Sean Bonniwell’s paranoid baritone on the Music Machine’s ‘Talk Talk’ to archetypal strained Cum On, Feel The Noize-period Noddy Holder, via a refrain (‘He’s got no self control’) that entirely anticipates Devo’s gloriously teenage chorus (same tone’n’everything) on “He’s got an uncontrollable urge”.9 ‘Annabella’ never charted in the UK, but I well remember it got played to death on the radio.
16. Neil Merryweather – The Groove (1975)
Ah, Neil Merryweather… so close and yet so far. Like many scholarly musos, the moustachioed Merryweather spent much of the early ‘70s in loose blues/folk aggregations, organisin’ super jams with Dave Mason types and generally authenticatin’ his soul. Boy, it weren’t half drippy and dreary, I can tell you. Then he heard Todd’s A WIZARD, A TRUE STAR and admitted to himself that ZIGGY STARDUST had also really touched a nerve. So, in the grand Glam Rock tradition, N. Merryweather wrote a series of future dystopia Vision songs and declared himself for space, thereafter appearing clad only in Todd Clark-like space captain’s overalls, his newly-bleached’n’be-fringe’d barnet only accentuating his defiant retaining of the Old Regime muzzy. Like Ian Hunter, whose Road to Damascus moment had been celebrated with similar splendour, songs about the songs proliferated the new Merryweather canon; whilst behind him blazed a similarly singular hard rock act as Mott themselves. Known as the Space Rangers, Merryweather’s band was hot and the guitarist was a sky high colossus in the style of Bill Nelson. I picked up my first Merryweather in 1998CE, at a second-hand shop in Devizes, and soon discovered his purple patch had been unfortunately brief. But feast your lugholes on ‘The Groove’ and agree with me: when he got it right, he din’t half nail it down.
17. Be Bop Deluxe – Swansong (1975)
Next, I feel a little background fact and recent history is necessary to know about this Bill Nelson fellow, in order to best enjoy his song. Prior to releasing the sublime and earthquaking ‘Swansong’, Bill Nelson had sacked his galumphing Yorkshire Glam Rock band, high-tailed it to the Smoke and hired two hotshots on bass and drums. Now, he was delivering his second record but with the brand new line-up. He’s so coiled and ready to burst that the record company depict him on the record sleeve as a bound harlequin God attempting to escape the clutches of his restrainers. The record itself he dedicated ‘To The Muse In The Moon’. Right fucking on. ‘Swansong’ is surely the most exultant of all Glam Rock songs, its breath-taking compositional beauty surpassed by the ludicrous heights to which its composer/performer ascends in order to tell Her how he feels. Sometimes I switch this track off halfway through. No shit, I can’t take that level of yearning anymore.
18. Seventh Wave - Star Palace of the Sombre Warrior (1975)
While it would be too gauche of me to describe the early ‘70s ‘serious’ music scene as having been a cultural war between hordes of horny heavy rockers on the trail of eternal pussy versus dickless grammar school boys who carried their hard-ons in their … no? There is, nevertheless, still a certain poetic truth to such an assertion. Furthermore, the stalemate was only broken by Eno, a once glorious and exquisitely painted alien whose needs were such that he was full-on enough to demand that we accept his receding Mekon-like hairline as evidence of both greater intellectual capacity AND cock’n’ballsack power. So when, in 1973, Roxy’s so-called non-musician hooked up with the Uber-beard Nurd-boffin Robert Fripp, the mythically named Eno bestrode such a previously unstraddle-able chasm between the boot-boys of the metalwork class and the Einsteins of the science lab, that it united them briefly on the school playground to engage (albeit temporarily) in holy conversation. In the meantime, it’s hard to imagine from this musical evidence that Seventh Wave began life as the clunking low-grade stoners Chillum, whose sole LP had appeared as a handmade, self-printed limited edition. In their new guise as Seventh Wave, this unholy trio occupied a bizarre hinterland in the mid-70s rock scene, photographed by Mick Rock and coming on like the most decadent of all the Glam Rockers. On this their second LP, one song commences with a direct lyrical quote from Scott’s ‘The Amorous Humphrey Plugg (‘Plastic Palace Alice’), before descending into A CLOCKWORK ORANGE territory with the help of Van Der Graaf Generator’s Hugh Banton. Stranger still, the vocals that open this song sound exactly like Peter Hammill on Van Der Graaf’s GODBLUFF. And as GODBLUFF, Hammill’s own NADIR’S BIG CHANCE and this Seventh Wave LP were all contemporaries… well, it makes you think, don’t it?
19. The Dictators - Master Race Rock (1975)
As one door opens, so another closes. I’m talking – of course – about the manner in which the Ramones opened their debut 1976 LP with the same ‘Let’s Go!’ chant as the Dictators used to close their own debut album one year earlier. Nobody noticed because the Dictators’ debut was mostly just a rag bag of mixed metaphors, in-jokes and Sandy Pearlman stock methodology. Even today, the sound appears at times far too BÔC-by-numbers, whilst elsewhere it’s just a bogus ‘60s piss take. Where it scores, however, is on the two tracks ‘Master Race Rock’ and ‘The Next Big Thing’, which ape DESTROYER-period Kiss magnificently and make you wanna blu-tak posters all over your ceiling.
20. Rik Kenton - The Libertine (1976)
With the Punk Rock future as predicted by the Dictators already within our grasp, then, let’s spare a thought for poor old Rik Kenton, former bass player with Roxy Music. Though a member of that celebrated ensemble for barely six months during 1972, Kenton was still – four years later in 1976 – trying desperately to summon up a little of that Brian/Bryan magic with his own single ‘The Libertine’, for whose EMI sessions the ultra thorough Kenton hired in several Glam Rock institutions as his backing band, including guitarists Chris Spedding and Cockney Rebel’s Jim Cregan, along with Bowie/Bolan drummer Tony Newman and ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ arranger Herbie Flowers on brass and bass. As evidenced here, the charming song itself, though somewhat underwhelming, remains undeniable proof that the Glam impulse was still considered to be commercially vibrant as late as 1976.
21. Kiss - Great Expectations (1976)
Glam Rock’s preening and solipsistic self-regard surely reached its apotheosis in Kiss’ 1976’s ‘Great Expectations’, in which Gene Simmons anticipated the band’s forthcoming Superkiss period and describes his Aweful Vision of daughters of fine US citizens lusting piteously after his scaly body, so tantalizingly out-of-reach. If you think Ian Hunter feyed out a little too much on his enormous solo ballad ‘Boy’, then cop an earful as the Demon takes it all umpteen seven-league-boot-strides further over the horizon of Self regard. Gosh. Replete with ‘Toronto’ Bobby Ezrin’s astonishingly göyische10, nay, Canadian orchestrations and a choir, no less, ‘Great Expectations’ is epic, cloying, perfect.
22. The Runaways - Dead End Justice (1976)
When John Peel played this song in summer 1976, I felt like giving up. These chicks were all younger than me and I still lived at home… Motherfucker! Hate Kim Fowley for the dirty cunt he is, but praise his directing skills to the skies for this hefty slab o’Jailbait Jailbreak. Taking equal amounts of Shangri-la tradition and sheer teenage girl attitude, Joan Jett and Cherie Curie act out a desperate tale of urchin camaraderie against the Man. Its 6-minute duration is magnificent, tense, gauche, inept, daring, brave, and all at the same time. When this LP was released, my then-13-year-old wife Dorian played piano in an all-girl band called the Shooting Stars. On hearing this record, she split her band. Nuff Said.
23. Chrome - My Time to Live (1976)
Vocalist/lyricist/songwriter/drummer Damon Edge was the Klaus Dinger of the late ‘70s San Fran scene, and his ultra-sharp view of the alienated future world created in Chrome’s music a superb doorway between true gasoline garage rock’n’roll and the futuristic arthouse. His voice was punky, edgy, snidey, always harping on & on. However, I’ve included in this collection one of the tracks from Chrome’s 1976 debut LP THE VISITATION, on which Edge employed lead singer Mike Low. Nevertheless, in spite of its being an utter anachronism within the rest of Chrome’s entire canon of work, ‘My Time to Live’ is a hauntingly beautiful piece of guitar heavy late Glam, occupying that same upper atmosphere as Uli Jon Roth’s inspired EARTHQUAKE project.
Doctors of Madness singer Kid Strange in ‘75, wielding ‘KID’ guitar.
24. Doctors of Madness – Mainlines (1976)
Okay, it’s mid-76 and Punk Rock is barely months away and the Dictators have already handed on their baton to the Ramones so, uh, Let’s Go! Hold on, what’s this bunch of Ugs doing with that near 16-minute Glam Rock epic? When it’s time to move on culturally, there’s always a coupla Luddites trying to keep us all Back In The Day (The Jam in ’77 was just the fucking same). So while the rest of the 1976 world was gearing up for the forthcoming 2-Minute-Hate, Messrs. Kid Strange, Urban Blitz & Co. was down in United Artists’ studio laying stinking side-long Dystopian Turds upon our doorsteps. That said, ‘Mainlines’ is one hell of a movement. Writ into umpteen sections and taking at least three listens before the song even starts to make sense, when it really kicks in, boy, don’t it just! Shame no sucker gave this song more than a cursory earful back in the day. But then, who had the time when you could say it all in 1.54?
Eno poster advertising his debut LP HERE COME THE WARM JETS.
Hopefully, I’ve shown herein – without taking too too many liberties –that Glam Rock was an icky flypaper of a term, a genre so widely drawn that it has in its time sucked all living things into its gaping, badly-painted maws, well, everything in da music biz. During the period 1970-75, All & Everything was tainted by Glamrock, even the folkie Strawbs, the ultra-serious Peter Hammill (on his 1975 LP NADIR’S BIG CHANCE) and the defiantly imageless AC/DC (see Bay City Malcolm & the Glam DC on YouTube). And, despite having chided his contemporaries by singing ‘You don’t have to camp around’ in 1973, Todd Rundgren still dared to appear on NBC’s SOUL TRAIN TV show in full drag the following year. Indeed, even T. Dream’s granite-like leader Edgar Froese ponced out for the cover of his hefty 1974 double-LP AGES, which at least had the decency to contain a 12-minute epic entitled ‘Metropolis’ that aped the Moog on the Walter Carlos CLOCKWORK ORANGE soundtrack. No so-called ‘serious artists’ seemed truly above slumming it temporarily in the Glam Basement, and I was mightily let down by the average American FM Rock emanating from the grooves of Edgar Winter’s impressively clad-but-with-zilch-Glam-contents LP THEY ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT. My own route into Glam was not through Bowie (already well known to J. Peel show listeners through great BBC sessions and Peel’s championing of HUNKY DORY), but through learning O-level Russky then seeing Malcolm McDowell behave (and speak) like such an erudite barbarian in the movie version of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. The uniform white boiler suits and bovver boots were adopted by Led Zep’s John Bonham and failed Glam Rock band the Jook, indeed, by any provincials who felt the pull of Glam Rock but feared a beating by the local Casuals. And, as the ‘70s progressed, Glam Rock clearly came to mean something different to everyone, from Boot Boys to Spacerockers via moustachioed disco dopes and Eurotrash such as Abba and the Brotherhood of Man. Ultimately, Glam Rock became an opportunity for just about anyone to explore – however deeply or superficially – the weird and otherly side of one’s personality. Eventually, even Glam Rock names became super-extravagant, sometimes being composed of one single word, at other times being of the same name repeated, many being of the three names variety. 11 Glam Rock forced regular songwriters to pimp their works with daft, brutal FX, skyrocket guitar solos, glitterstompf drums and meaningless choruses, turning Pap into, well, Expressionist Pap! Glam singles became great events, full of sirens, explosions, shocked expressions, themed with mysterious plots, chock-full o’chants that sounded meaningless but who really knew? Could Suzie Q. really get so het up over defining what exactly ’48 Crash’ was if it didn’t mean anything at all? And let’s just compare the Sweet’s pre-Glam Rock 45s (‘Coco’, ‘Poppa Joe’, ‘Funny Funny’, ‘Alexander Graham Bell’) to their Glam Hits (‘Block Buster’, ‘Teenage Rampage’, ‘Hellraiser’, ‘Ballroom Blitz’). While the light emotions of the first four were guaranteed to appeal to Grandma and Auntie Mabel, those last four mentioned were ultra-ludicrous platform-booted forced marches through exclusively Teen domain, designed specifically to annoy dad as he relaxed in front of Thursday nacht’s Top of the Pops. Hell, Sweet’s Steve Priest even delivered his camp one-liner dressed in a Nazi uniform! Ultimately, Glam Rock may have had no more message than a simple ‘Wake Up!’ But it was unashamedly attempting to be top entertainment at a time when most so-called serious Rock was so far up its own ass that even putting on stage clothes was considered gauche by the delicate flowers of the singer/songwriters scene. And considering David Bowie’s enlightened demand that rock’n’roll be reborn by becoming a parody of itself, the reality as it descended upon the 1970s pop charts was, at times, quite spectacular and inventive. That we still have trouble defining this apparently simplistic phenomenon is a true testament to its clod-hopping Will o’the Wispiness.
- Just as minstrels of the past had adapted the old songs to accommodate the current exploits of their culture heroes, so modern songwriters too made detailed accounts of the exploits of these new heroes. Typically, it was the folk artists who responded most immediately to the Moon Landings, the Byrds bringing forth ‘Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins’, Donovan contributing ‘The Voyage to the Moon’, the Grateful Dead bringing forth ‘Mountains of the Moon’, and John Stewart’s controversial homage ‘Armstrong;’
- On his ostensibly 12-bar-boogie based Move 45 ‘When Alice Comes Back to the Farm’, Roy Wood integrated radical chords and new structures so effortlessly that the song – on the outside at least – appeared like an authentic rock’n’roll tune. Look inside, however, and we can see the songs of Ian Hunter and ZIGGY-period Bowie staring back at us.
- Neil Young played only on certain songs because the film cameras distracted him.
- But while Bowie c.1969 was still a Denmark Street song hack peddling songs and doing a folk act, over in Arizona, there was an experimental quintet that went by the name of Alice Cooper (formerly known as The Spiders, by the way), whose lead singer was already “wearing ladies’ sling back shoes and false eye-lashes and dresses”, according to Wayne County. That is, until Bowie – typically – appropriated Cooper’s style then (like the vile charlatan he’d later prove to be) set about obscuring the source of his MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD image by slagging Cooper off as often and as untruthfully as he could. Come to think of it, it’s also highly unlikely that a shameless art vampire such as Bowie could possibly have been unaware of Alice Cooper’s 1969 song ‘Return of the Spiders’, from their LP PRETTIES FOR YOU. So you gotta wonder why, with all his decades of success, David Bowie is still a lying bastard. But even as late as 1993, Bowie was obviously so nervous of his deception being one day discovered that he commented to Suede’s Brent Anderson: “I don’t even think [Alice Cooper] tried theatricality until they saw the English bands”. What a crock! Watching the film of Alice Cooper at the TORONTO 1970 POP FESTIVAL, the act was so theatrical that it was in danger of overwhelming the musical content. And yet Bowie’s act as late as August 1971 was described thus by Wayne County, one of his greatest apologists: “… the show was really disappointing… it was a folky act with acoustic guitars and Mick Ronson looking like a dippy hippie.”
- Back in the day, the Sweet always used to protest to the ‘real’ Rock Press that their Hard Rock roots had been derailed (and obscured) by the careerist methods of producer/writers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, quite forgetting that their pre-Glam hits for RCA had been not Hard Rock at all.
- The painted lead guitarist is a bizarre Glam Rock phenomenon that began with Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s Zal Cleminson, then migrated to Kiss’ Ace Frehley via Bob Starkie of Australian Glamrockers Skyhooks.
- Besides, it’s an attitude that’s far too close to the muso snobbery of the late-60s Island Records’ inner sanctum that caused Guy Stevens’ Hereford-derived Mott studio project to be mythologized as yokel morons by Traffic in the title track of their LP THE LOW SPARK OF HIGH HEEL BOYS.
- In Todd Haynes’ foreword to Barney Hoskins’ 1998 book GLAM!, Haynes admits: “Growing up in the States, I basically missed glam rock.”
- Interesting that the collective singing style on the chorus to Devo’s delightful ‘Uncontrollable Urge’ was adopted hook, line and sinker one year later by the Undertones. Somehow, its gleeful innocence suited the delivery and appearances of Michael Bradley & Co.
- ‘Göyische’ is Yiddish (German Jewish) for anything ‘non-Jewish’ or Gentile.
- The 3-name phenomenon entered Glam Rock via Tyrannosaurus Rex percussionist Steve Peregrine Took, who inspired Be Bop Deluxe bassist Nicholas Chatterton-Dew, Curved Air’s Florian Pilkington-Miksa, Queen’s Roger Meddows-Taylor, Cockney Rebel’s Milton Reame-James and Silverhead’s Rod Rook Davis. Except for their singer Fee Waybill, Glam Rock latecomers The Tubes were all known by three names, and were billed as Rick Marc Andersen - Michael David Cotten - Prairie L'Emprere Prince - William Edmund Spooner - Roger Allan Steen - Vincent Leo Welnick. However, the Single name was by far the MOST mysterious of all the Glam Rock devices. And although Mott the Hoople drummer got there first, the Glam Rock single name was undoubtedly inspired by Roxy Music’s Eno, whose glamour and spirit inhabited the same otherworldliness as one-name Andy Warhol characters like Ondine and Nico. Jobriath soon followed, as did Curved Air’s new guitarist Kirby, the Doctors of Madness bass player Stoner and Space Rangers’ keyboardist Edgemont.