Friday, 25 December 2009

It's Christmaaas

It seemed like a good idea to get a bit ahead of schedule with some of the blog entries I was intending to write, and to set some sort of order to the songs being posted. So with that in mind I began planning this Xmas post way back in August at the height of the British summer. As it turned out we didn't get much of a summer (as usual).
Anyway the point is, that it nicely links in with the song posted here, namely "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade. It is now a well known fact that this song was recorded in the (not very Christmasy) heat of June in a studio in the USA, to be released in the winter of 1973. It went on to become one of Slade's best selling and best loved 45's.

Originally a #1 in December 73, it has been re-released (in the UK) almost every year since then, giving Noddy and the boys a nice little pension in the process. Rather than posting the 7" version that everybody has heard, I have posted a rocking live version by the band from 1975.
The glam rock years were a golden period for Xmas singles, with Wizzards "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" only a #4 in December 1973 (such was the standard of other singles released at the same time). Mud's "Lonely This Christmas" a #1 the following year, and other less famous ones such as "Step Into Christmas" by Elton John and even "Wombling Merry Christmas" by the Wombles obviously.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Origins of Glam Rock

Glam rock emerged in the post hippie period of the late 60’s and early 70’s. It is commonly accepted that it began when Tyrannosaurus Rex an acoustic, psychedelic, folk rock band lead by one time mod Marc Bolan, shortened it’s name to T. Rex and released the number 1 UK single “Ride A White Swan” in December 1970.

Marc Bolan also changed his professional image by wearing makeup and glitter, first seen during an appearance on Top of the Pops in late 1970. It was this appearance along with a mix of bisexuality and a 1950s-futurist hard rock-pop sound that laid the foundation for glam rocks early sound and image.

Following Bolan's successful metamorphosis, David Bowie (seen as the other major player in the scene) altered his own professional persona to fit the new concept (and further explore the bisexual glam image), by creating Ziggy Stardust. Ziggy was strongly influenced visually by Stanley Kubrick's movies ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, and as with Marc Bolan, the music was harder-sounding and more aggressive than his previous work.

It was David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust character that brought Glam rock its relatively modest popularity in America, and lead to American artists such as Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, The New York Dolls, Jobriath, and Alice Cooper adopting Glam or Glam-influenced styles.

Also caught up in Bolan’s wake, previously existing pop-rock bands and artists such as, Slade and Sweet (originally called Ambrose Slade and The Sweetshop respectively) would emerge and have greater commercial success during 1971-72. Pure pop artists like Mud, Gary Glitter and Alvin Stardust would also rise to fame in 1972-73, as a second generation of glam acts conquered the charts, making glam a national music phenomenon in the UK.

Glam itself can be seen as a nostalgic mixture of various styles, from both the visual and musical arts. This ranged from 1930s Hollywood glamour, and 1950s rock n' roll teenage rebellion, to a bit of pre-war cabaret theatrics, with some ancient and occult mysticism and mythology added for good measure.

But it was science fiction imagery that was at the core of glam rock's stylistic pallet. Themes of spaceflight and alien encounters were common in the glam rock spectrum. Glam style strongly referenced the "space Age" with silver astronaut-like outfits and multicoloured hair. This trend was often musically represented with science-fiction/fantasy-oriented lyrics and music tinted with early synthesizers such as the Moog.

So with its flamboyant costumes, androgyny and colourful visual styles, together with a camp, theatrical blend of old style glamour, transvestism and futurism, glam rock dominated the early seventies musical backdrop in the UK. Although seen predominantly as a teenage and youth phenomenon, glam rock also consciously wallowed in more adult themes and 1970’s drug and sleaze excess. The stars of Andy Warhol's films and his stage play ‘Pork’ were crucially influential to the nascent glam movement. The Warhol set were provocatively camp, flamboyant, and sexually ambiguous.

Another element in the melting pot of glam rock was recent homosexual reforms in the United Kingdom and the militant Stonewall Riots for gay rights in the US. Sexual ambiguity was briefly in vogue as an effective cultural "shock tactic". David Bowie caused a media uproar in 1972 when he told the UK press he was bisexual. But while glam rock went against traditional gender-representation, genuinely gay glam rock musicians were rare. The late Jobriath was amongst rocks first openly gay performers, while Queen's Freddie Mercury stayed mostly "in the closet".

“Though primarily a UK-centred genre and of somewhat nebulous impact in the US, glam rock rapidly influenced popular culture to the point where acts as disparate as The Osmonds and the Rolling Stones wore some glitter or makeup. Even though their own work had little if any connection to science fiction, sexual ambiguity or high art, the genre's pop stars also wore makeup and 'futuristic' garb. However, as the genre progressed, it became stylistically diluted and commercialised”.

By the end of 1975 glam rock was in its final days. Acts like Slade, Sweet and T Rex were losing popularity and record sales, as the public found other music and trends to take there place. While artists such as David Bowie and Roxy Music were exploring different musical avenues and genres that didn’t have glam rocks restrictions.

“Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide.
No escape from reality”.
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen, December 1975

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Suzi Quatro: I Wanna Be Free (b-side)

"I Wanna Be Free" was the b-side to the 1974 single "Too Big" a moderate hit reaching # 14.
The song is written by Quatro and her then husband Len Tuckey.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Sweet: The Six Teens (a-side)

This song is often regarded as the best track written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman for The Sweet. It details the lives of six teenagers who have to deal with the change from the idyllic and idealistic 1960's to the more confronting 1970's.

It was also the last Chapman and Chinn song to feature on a Sweet single release. It shows a more plaintive side of the songwriters usual glam rock stomp. When released in 1974 it got to #9 in the UK charts.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel: Sebastian (a-side)

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel are an English rock band who’s music covers a range of styles from pop to progressive rock. Over the years they have had five albums in the UK Albums Chart and twelve singles in the UK Singles Chart.

The band comprised Steve Harley (who was also the songwriter) on vocals and acoustic guitar, Stuart Elliot on drums, John Crocker on violin, mandolin and guitar and bass player Paul Avron Jeffreys. Keyboards man Milton Reame-James was invited to join and the band went straight into the studio and recorded their first album "The Human Menagerie" in 1973.

The first single from this album was "Sebastian" it wasn’t a hit in the UK but did spark interest in the band, and was a huge hit in Holland and Belgium, staying at # 1 for weeks on end. The album rapidly drew attention and the violin/electric piano sound was soon recognised as the bands trademark.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Cuddly Toys: Madman (cover version)

was originally one of two songs written by David Bowie and Marc Bolan in September 1977. The other being "Sitting Next to You".

The original plan was to play these on Bolan's TV show "Marc" on which Bowie was a guest on the last show of the series.
However filming of the show had over-run, and they were only half a minute into the first song when Marc fell off the stage and technicians on a work-to-rule overtime ban stopped filming. Only a week later Bolan was dead, so any more collaborations were not to be.

The originals of Madman and Sitting Next To You have appeared on various bad quality bootlegs over the years.

It's said that Marc had given a tape of Madman to some fans, and the song first saw the light of day as this Cuddly Toys single in 1980. The Cuddly Toys started out as punk band "The Raped". Having little success they changed their name, sound, and image and became The Cuddly Toys.

The song reached #19 in the UK Indie Chart.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Mud: Morning (b-side)

"Morning" is the b-side to "The Cat Crept In". Released in 1974 it reached # 2 in the UK charts.
It follows a similar mellow, acoustic sound to "Mr Bagatelle" and is again written by the band.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Slade: How Does It Feel? (a-side)

In 1975 Slade made the film "Slade in Flame". Partly semi-autobiographical, it was not the film that critics and fans expected of the band. Instead of colourful "Monkees" style musical comedy it showed a more gritty and cynical side of the music industry, and I think it is all the better for that.
It chronicles the rise and bitter break up of a Northern rock band, and the movie's theme is the song "How Does It Feel?" which I think is one of the best singles released in the 70's. But the change in style for the band did not go down well with all fans with the song only getting to '#15 in the charts, a relative failure for Slade, making it their first single in three and a half years that failed to make the top 10.
It is a melancholy and reflective ballad using flutes and piano with string and brass orchestration, not something you would usually associate with their records. Noddy Holders voice shows genuine emotion and it was this song more than any other that gave Noddy Holder and Jim Lea the title of "The Lennon and McCartney Of Glam"
In 2000 on the Big Breakfast TV show Noel Gallagher of Oasis said it was his favourite Slade tune. He said:

"Slade were never pretentious. It was just music to them. Pop, rock, soul... it was all the same to Slade. They wrote great songs. And, besides, I'd like to raid their wardrobe."
"Do you know what it's like

to be searching in your own time?,
to be searching and suddenly find.
All your illusion, all your confusion,
all left behind.
How does it feel turning away?,
and how does it feel facing another day?.
Coz many years from now
there will be newer poisons
and new horizons.
How does it feel?"
Noddy Holder & Jim Lea 1975

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Glitter Band: You Wouldn't Leave Me Would You (b-side)

"You Wouldn't Leave Me Would You" is the b-side to "Angel Face" a #4 single from 1974.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

T Rex: Children of the Revolution (alternative version)

"Children of the Revolution" is a song by T.Rex. It was a #2 hit single in September 1972. The song broke their sequence of four official single releases all reaching #1 ("Hot Love", "Get It On", "Telegram Sam", "Metal Guru").

It did not receive a regular album release, but was featured in "Born to Boogie" a 1972 film based around a T Rex concert at Wembley Empire Pool. The movie was directed by Ringo Starr, and was released on The Beatles' Apple Films label.
Born to Boogie consists of concert footage; recorded studio scenes with guest stars Ringo Starr and Elton John, and various vignettes reminiscent of The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, shot at Denham and Tittenhurst Park, Sunninghill. The Tea Party sequence was filmed at John Lennon's estate in the same spots as Lennon's Imagine video was filmed.
The song is about teenage rebellion, and upon its release, some critics blasted the song, as it marked a change in the band's sound. This is an alternative version played in the film with Elton John on piano. A string quartet version of the song also appears in the film.
"The film was made purely as a piece of rock and roll entertainment. I feel it documents the phenomenon that has been T.REX through the past year – and that was the purpose of the film initially. But as Ringo and I became more involved in the making of “Born to Boogie” we decided to add several more scenes, bringing in “accidental” humour and to shoot actually “live” without dubbing. By doing so we were endeavouring to to get a spontaneity which does not come naturally from some films.
In some of the scenes outside of the concert we let our imaginations take their courses and, with the aid of props and a dwarf, let which ever happened, happen. And it did. We made the film strictly for a teenage audience who demand youthful excitement of the cinema – as well as on television and in the theatre. I think the film does that – no more, no less".
Marc Bolan 1972

Friday, 20 November 2009

Marc Bolan & Gloria Jones: City Port (b-side)

Gloria Jones is an American singer who is famous for recording the 1964 northern soul song, "Tainted Love".

Her career began in a church gospel choir, which led to spots singing backing vocals for artists like Phil Spector and Bob Dylan. Her singing talent and years of studying piano and composition led to a job writing for Motown.

Gloria Jones first met Marc Bolan of T. Rex in 1969 while performing in the musical Hair. In 1972, she was recommended by Warner Brothers to sing backing vocals behind T. Rex at the Winterland in San Francisco.

Soon after joining T. Rex, Jones and Bolan became romantically involved. Together, they had a son, Rolan Bolan.

She sang backing vocals and played clavinet with T. Rex from 1973 to 1977. Jones released an album in 1976, called "Vixen", featuring several songs written by Bolan, and he also was the producer.

Tragically she was also the driver of the car that crashed and killed Bolan on 16 September 1977. Jones also nearly died in the accident, and was in the hospital for several days afterwards. She did not learn of Bolan's death until the day of his funeral.

"City Port" is a song that originally appeared on the last official T Rex album "Dandy in the Underworld" in 1977. While not falling within the official glam rock period, it is still, in style and context a glam record.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Hot Chocolate: Emma (a-side)

Hot Chocolate were an English pop band from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and were formed by singer Errol Brown. The band were chart regulars throughout the 1970s and 1980s. They have had at least one hit every year between 1970 and 1984 and "You Sexy Thing" made the Top 10 in three decades.

Again they are not really classed as a glam rock act, but as with Smokie they were on Mickie Most’s RAK record label.

Emma is a song by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson released as a single by Hot Chocolate in 1974. It made #3 in the UK charts and #8 in the US.

The song details the love of the (nameless) singer and a girl called Emmaline from the age of five all through a wedding at seventeen until her suicide at an unspecified later date. Emma it seems wanted to be a "movie queen" but could never find the breaks and eventually kills herself with the line "I just can't keep on living on dreams no more."

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Smokie: If You Think You Know How To Love Me (a-side)

Smokie are an English rock band from Bradford, UK, who found success in Britain and Europe in the 1970s.

While not really a glam rock band, most of their best known singles were written by the hit song writing team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.

In 1975, Smokie released their second album “Changing All the Time”. This LP sounded much softer than their debut a year earlier, containing string arrangements on some songs, with an emphasis toward acoustic guitar arrangements and close harmony vocals.

The first single from the album was, "If You Think You Know How to Love Me", which quickly became a big hit in many European countries, peaking at # 3 in Britain. At this point the band still spelt their name 'Smokey' as seen on the label. They later changed the spelling of their name due to a dispute with Smokey Robinson at Motown.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Mickie Most (Producer)

Mickie Most was born Michael Peter Hayes in 1938 and died in 2003. He was a successful English record producer, who had a string of Number One singles on his own RAK Records.

RAK Records was set up in 1968 by Most and Peter Grant. But with Grant's involvement with The Yardbirds, and soon with Led Zeppelin, this meant that Most had full control by late 1969.

The record label came into its own during the glam rock era, and was home to a growing roster of artists such as Suzi Quatro, Mud, The Arrows, Hot Chocolate and Smokie. By hiring the song writing production team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, RAK scored several British #1 singles with Suzi Quatro, Mud and Smokie

From the beginning he knew what market he wanted to corner. He said:
"I decided that, as all of the major companies were now leaning towards dumping singles and signing artists with the album concept in mind, I would take care of the singles market myself."

RAK developed a reputation for producing bubblegum pop, mostly written and produced by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. But it was Mickie Most himself that produced the band that had the largest commercial success for RAK: Hot Chocolate. Their singles including "Emma" in 1974 and "You Sexy Thing" in 1975 became international hits.

RAK records went on to have a constant stream of hits throughout the 70’s and into the early 80’s. In 1973 for example fourteen out of 18 of RAK releases were top 30 hits or better.

RAK Publishing is based inside the legendary RAK Recording Studios in St Johns Wood, London which was created in 1976 by Mickie Most. He sympathetically converted an imposing Victorian schoolhouse and church hall into a state-of-the-art recording studio complex.

"In the whole of pop, he's the only man I can think of who has unnatural powers, who really knows what will hit and what won't. He rarely misses."Nik Cohn – Rock from the Beginning

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Golden Earring: Radar Love (a-side)

"Radar Love" is a 1973 song performed by Dutch rock band Golden Earring, reaching #13 in the UK charts.

While seen as one hit wonders in the UK, in their home country, they had over 40 hits and made over 30 gold and platinum albums and are still performing today.

Like "Crazy Horses" by The Osmonds this is one of the great underated, classic glam songs, and can often be found in lists of the top 'driving' songs of all time.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Roy Wood: Forever (a-side)

Much like Bryan Ferry with Roxy Music, Roy Wood maintained a parallel solo career, while still releasing singles with Wizzard.

“Forever” is a Wood solo single that broke into the U.K. Top 10 in January 1973, reaching #8. The song is evocative of both early rock and roll and the soaring melodies of Brian Wilson.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Happy Birthday

This blog is one year old today.

"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring".
David Bowie

People stared at the makeup on his face
Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace
The boy in the bright blue jeans
Jumped up on the stage
And lady stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and disgrace

And he was alright, the band was all together
Yes he was alright, the song went on forever
And he was awful nice
Really quite out of sight, really quite paradise
And he sang all night long

Lady Stardust by David Bowie
from the album 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars'

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Bryan Ferry: The In Crowd (a-side)

Bryan Ferry while still the vocalist and principal songwriter with Roxy Music started a parallel solo career in 1973. Initially specialising in cover versions of old standards, such as on the album "These Foolish Things" released in October 73.
Members of Roxy Music did play on Ferry's solo albums to some degree but Ferry's solo career eventually out lived the first coming of Roxy Music.

After tours to support the "Siren" album in 1976, Roxy Music disbanded, only to re-form three years later when Bryan Ferry's solo career was on the slide.

"The In Crowd" is a cover of the old Northern Soul song by Dobie Gray. It peaked at # 13 in June 1974 on the UK charts.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Roxy Music: Pyjamarama (a-side)

Roxy Music are an English group formed during the early 1970s by art school graduate Bryan Ferry. They are seen as one of the guiding lights of the glam period, and along with David Bowie one of its most influential.

The other members were Phil Manzanera (guitars), Andy Mackay (saxophone and oboe), Paul Thompson (drums and percussion) and Brian Eno (synthesizer and "treatments").

Brian Eno left Roxy after two albums to go solo, but would re-surface some years later to help David Bowie with his 'Berlin' trilogy of albums.

Their debut single was "Virginia Plain", which reached #4 in the British charts. The band's eclectic and colourful visual image, became one of the defining images for the glam genre in the UK. "Virginia PLain" was a stand alone single and not placed on any album, as was the follow up "Pyjamarama" released in march 1973, a #10 in the UK charts.

Pyjamarama is often over-looked when assessing the music of the band, but it is a great piece of melodic and rhythmic songwriting, with an instant and distinctive guitar chord intro.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Hello: Star Studded Sham (a-side), Son of a Gun: La Maison De L'Amour (a-side)

Other "second generation" glam acts who were having hits towards the end of the glam rock period include: Hello who had a moderate hit in 1975 with "Star Studded Sham" and Son of a Gun who also had a flop single the same year with the song "La Maison De'L'Amour".

The songs are a good example of late period glam, while not up to the standards of the songs produced by the'premier' glam acts, they are still under-rated songs in their own right.

Hello were discovered by Argent songwriter Russ Ballard and the Zombies' old road manager David Blaylock. Russ Ballards first attempts at writing songs for the band was not successful so Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, then riding high with hits by the Sweet, offered one of their own latest compositions, "Dyna-Mite".

Hello recorded a version of the song, only for its scheduled release to be cancelled by producer Mike Leander, in favour of the band's own "Another School Day." Chinn and Chapman took the song back, handed it to Mud and promptly scored a massive hit.

"Another School Day," on the other hand, went nowhere and Hello disappeared from recorded view for much of the next three years. Their debut album, Keeps Us off the Streets, was wrapped in a mock denim cover which looked great on the racks and the band's next single, Ballard's "Star Studded Sham" brought them another German Top 20 hit on the heels of a sell-out tour with Smokie.

"La Maison De L'Amour was produced by Phil Wainman one of the biggest producers in the country. He produced "Sweet Fanny Adams", the best Sweet album of the lot, he produced two albums for the Bay City Rollers, including both their British #1 singles (the second of which, 'Give A Little Love' he co-wrote with John Goodison), and he worked with Mud after they split from Chinn & Chapman.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

David Bowie: Holy Holy (b-side)

"Holy Holy" is a song by David Bowie, originally released as a single in 1971. It was recorded shortly after the completion of The Man Who Sold the World album.

This is a more frantic version of the song recorded for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album. It was dropped from the LP, but subsequently appeared as the B-side to "Diamond Dogs" in 1974.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Queen: See What a Fool I've Been (b-side)

Queen formed in London, England in 1971 following the demise of the band Smile. Queen consisted of vocalist Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. In 1973 they signed their first record deal with EMI and released their first album “Queen”.

Mercury explained, "I thought up the name Queen. It's just a name, but it's very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid, it’s a strong name, very universal and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations. I was certainly aware of gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it."
Mixing glam-rock with hard-rock, the group’s ornate, multi-tracked recordings stood out among other songs recorded at the same time.
But beyond the flamboyant exterior there was genuine power and daring in their music. Over the years their music has ranged from rockabilly and disco-funk to heavy metal and acoustic ballads. Their most famous song “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a densely layered rock operetta, that is among the most ornate and intricate productions in music history.

While promoting their debut album, the band were writing new material and anxious to record it. Several new songs were written immediately after the first album, and some dated from even earlier.
By August 1973 the band were back in Trident Studios to record what is generally considered to be one of their best albums, "Queen II". For an album as complex as “Queen II”, It was recorded in a relatively short time, taking only a month in total.

A full version of "Seven Seas of Rhye" was recorded for the album with the specific intention of being the album's leading single. After the commercial failure of "Keep Yourself Alive", which was taken from the first album, Queen decided it needed a single that did not take "too long to happen" (without a lengthy guitar intro). So, Queen and producer Roy Thomas Baker made sure that the song began in a way which would grab people from the off.

The b-side to “Seven Seas of Rhye” was "See What a Fool I've Been" which was a song left over from the Smile days (and was actually built around May's recollection of a blues ditty he had heard on a television program; the song was "That's How I Feel" by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
“Queen II” was released in 1974. The album reached number five on the British album charts, and the Freddie Mercury written lead single "Seven Seas of Rhye," reached number ten in the UK. The band also toured as support to Mott the Hoople in the UK and US during this period.

Of all the bands and artists related in some way to glam rock, Queen are by far the most successful in terms of record sales, becoming one of rock’s most popular and influential acts.

As of 2009 their total album sales have been estimated at over 300 million worldwide, including 32.5 million in the United States alone, making them one of the worlds’s best selling artists. In 2006, their Greatest Hits album was found to be the United Kingdom's all-time best selling album. Their 1985 Live Aid performance was voted the best live rock performance of all time in a recent industry poll, and the band is also the only group in which every member has composed more than one chart-topping single.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Top of the Pops

Top of the Pops was the most iconic music chart programme on British TV. It was made by the BBC and originally broadcast weekly from 1 January 1964 to 30 July 2006.

It was traditionally shown every Thursday evening and each weekly programme consisted of performances from some of that week's best-selling popular music artists, with a rundown of that week's singles chart.

Additionally, every year there was a special edition of the programme on Christmas Day featuring some of the best-selling singles of the year.

The first show was presented by cigar-chomping DJ Jimmy Saville, and the first edition featured such greats as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield and the Hollies. Although the early shows were live, the acts actually mimed to their songs, and in most cases had to re-record the backing track with session musicians because of Musician’s Union rules.

It was in the 70’s, and especially the glam rock period, that the show came into its own. The advent of colour TV was made for the costumes and make up of the glam artists. The world outside may have been jobless, on strike or on the breadline but the ‘glamsters’ did their best to brighten up the nation on TOTP.

There are only four episodes left from the 1960s and it was not until 1977 that the BBC began to keep the show in its archives. So there is very little evidence of Top of the Pops from its colourful heyday, although a variety of clips can be found online on sites such as ‘You Tube’.

The most famous of the many theme tunes the show had was a version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" based on the C. C. S. release, but using session musicians. This was used as the show's theme tune for most of the period from 1972 to 1981, and again from May 1998 to November 2003

Friday, 2 October 2009

Mud: Last Tango in London (b-side)

“Last Tango in London” is a Mike Chapman/Nicky Chinn song written for Mud, that was released on the B-side of “Hypnosis” in June 1973. It reached number 16 in the British charts.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Sweet: Rock & Roll Disgrace (b-side)

“Rock & Roll Disgrace” is the B-side to “Ballroom Blitz” a number 2 single by the Sweet released in September 1973.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Slade: Wonderin Y (b-side)

When starting this blog it was always my intention to highlight the great glam songs that were relegated to the B-sides.

So with that in mind the next few posts will stick to the flip sides of the original single releases, starting with “Wonderin y” by Slade which is the B-side to “Take Me Bak Ome” a number 1 for them in 1972.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Holiday :)

On holiday for a few weeks. More posts when I return.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The two songs by Bauhaus posted on 25th June 09 have now been re linked.
The song "Saturday Gig" from the Mott the Hoople post on 19th June 09 has now been re linked.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Noddy Holder: Coz I Luv You (acoustic version)

Noddy Holder, along with his co-songwriter in Slade Jim Lea, are responsible for some of the best songs in glam rock, in fact some of the best songs of the 70’s.

Noddy eventually left Slade in 1991 and has since appeared in numerous TV and radio shows, most notably The Grimleys, a TV series that ran in the UK between 1999 and 2001. The Grimleys is a nostalgic comedy/drama set in the 70’s in a council estate in Dudley, England. Noddy played a music teacher called Neville Holder (Noddys real name).

Other notable cameos in the series include Alvin Stardust playing a pub landlord. In one scene Noddy and Alvin share a beer at the bar and start be-moaning the lost opportunities of their youth. At the end of this episode “The Road Not Taken”, Noddy performs a melancholic, live acoustic version of “Cum On Feel the Noize” . The implication here is that the Grimleys takes place in an alternative 1970’s, where Noddy and Alvin have abandoned their dreams of being rock stars in favour of more sensible 9 to 5 jobs.

“I still love music and I still have a good time when I want to, but music is not the biggest part of my life anymore. It was probably the biggest part of my life for a long time. I was doing that for over 30 years. That’s a long time, but I don’t look on myself as doing that now. Now I’ve got lots of other things to do”.
Noddy Holder interviewed by Andrew Darlington, “Straight from His Own Gob”.

Other notable acoustic performances in the show include an alternative Easter version of “Merry Xmas Everybody” and a version of “Coz I Luv You” over the end credits of the series two finale.
“I remember getting a call at 10 o’clock in the morning to say that Coz I Luv You was number one. That was the reason I was in a band, so I could be top of the pops. Even though we had six number one records, the first one is always special”.
Noddy Holder, from Go2Birmingham magazine, October 1999.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Pans People: You Can Really Rock and Roll Me (a-side)

Pans People were a British TV dance troupe, who are best remembered for the BBC TV music show Top of the Pops. They danced along to songs whose original artists were not available to perform them live.

To people (men) of a certain age, they were essential viewing every Thursday night, from May 1968 to their last appearance in April 1976.

The classic Pans People line up consisted of: Louise Clarke, Barbara 'Babs' Lord, Ruth Pearson, Patricia 'Dee Dee' Wilde and Cherry Gillespie. The group were choreographed by original member 'Flick' Colby.

They are mostly remembered for the costumes (or lack of them) that they wore for the performances. Although they weren't always as 'under-dressed' as some people make out. At the time, and even now they are criticised for an 'over-literal' interpretation of the song lyrics, but this was largely due to the very short time available to prepare before the recording of the show. The dancers often had only a day to get ready.

Ok, so strictly speaking this is not a 'glam' record, but i'll give any excuse to show a bit of them doing their thing, and it was released in 1974, so it fits in to the right era.

"You Can Really Rock and Roll Me" was recorded with, and written by Mike Batt the man responsible for the Wombles records, and more recently Katie Melua. (nobodys perfect)
The song didn't chart as for some reason the BBC refused to promote the song, and wouldn't even allow the group to appear on the show to perform it. The lead vocals on the track are by Cherry Gillespie.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The song from the Suzi Quatro post of the 17th July has now been re linked.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Marc Bolan: Truck On Tyke (demo version)

This is the demo version of "Truck On (Tyke)", the song that would eventually become T Rex's 11th single.
Mary Hopkins (Tony Visconti's wife at the time) can be heard singing on this version.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

All The Young Dudes (Bowie guide vocal)

"All the Young Dudes" the national anthem of glam rock.
This is a remixed version of All the Young Dudes that puts Bowie's original demo vocal over the full Mott backing track. A glimpse of what the song could have been like had Bowie recorded it himself at the time.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Dib Cochran & the Earwigs: Oh Baby (a-side)

Marc Bolan much like Bowie with his ‘Arnold Corns’ pseudonym, also released records under another name.

Dib Cochran & the Earwigs was a band consisting of Marc Bolan on guitar and backing vocals, Tony Visconti on bass, lead vocals and production, Rick Wakeman on piano and John Cambridge on drums.

Both songs on the 1970 single release were written by Marc Bolan. The A side was a song called “Oh Baby” while the B side was an instrumental called “Universal Love”. The songs, as with Bowie’s 45’s with Arnold Corns, were a flop when released.

At the time, Bolan was yet to gain big success with T Rex. “Ride a White Swan” had yet to be released. It is seen as a transition from his ‘hippie’ period to his more recognisable ‘Electric Warrior’ sound.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Arnold Corns: Moonage Daydream & Hang Onto Yourself (a-side)

The Arnold Corns were a band formed by David Bowie in 1971 as a vehicle to record some of his songs. The demos were a dry run for his ‘Ziggy Stardust’ persona and were recorded using musicians from Dulwich College.

The songs included early versions of “Moonage Daydream” and “Hang onto Yourself”. These would eventually be re-recorded (with different lyrics) for the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album.
At the time Bowie was under contract to ‘Mercury’ records and so had to use a pseudonym to release the tracks, hence the Arnold Corns name.

Two additional tracks were recorded “Man in the Middle” and “Looking for a Friend”, but these featured Freddi Buretti as the vocalist rather than Bowie, and were backed with the band that played on the ‘Hunky Dory’ album.

Moonage Daydream/Hang onto Yourself was released as a single in 1971, but was a flop. A second single Looking for a Friend/Man in the Middle with vocals by Freddi Buretti was planned but later scrapped.
All four of the Arnold Corns tracks were re issued in 1984 on a limited 12” release in Scandinavia.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Joan Jett: I Love Rock N Roll (cover version), Lita Ford: Hell Raiser (cover version)

Joan Jett and Lita Ford are two of the founding members of The Runaways an American all girl band formed in 1975. Both went onto solo careers with varying degrees of success.Joan Jett has always played loud and stripped down rock n roll, with big hooks and heavy glam style drumming. The glam elements of her sound are also evident in her choice of cover versions “I Love Rock N Roll” originally by The Arrows and “Do You Wanna Touch Me” by Gary Glitter.

I Love Rock N Roll has become her greatest success, giving her a US number one in 1982. The single was at one time number 28 on Billboard’s list of the songs of all time.
Jett had first heard the song in 1976 while touring England with the Runaways, seeing the song performed by the Arrows on their TV show. She wanted to record it with the Runaways, but the rest of the band didn’t really like the song, so it was recorded when she eventually went solo a few years later.

It was first recorded in 1979 with Paul Cook and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, but was later re recorded in 1982 and released in its more familiar version.
“I think most people who love some kind of rock n roll can relate to it. Everyone knows a song that just makes them feel amazing and want to jump up and down.”Joan Jett, Mojo magazine January 2008.

Lita Ford uses a more ‘80’s metal’ musical template, with an image calculated to appeal to male, adolescent sexual fantasies. She is often accused of pandering to a ‘heavy metal’ female stereotype. But when playing good material she can rock with the best, as here, on her cover of the Sweet’s “Hell Raiser”.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Geordie: Electric Lady (a-side), Arrows: I Love Rock n Roll (b-side)

"I didn't want to get sucked into that second-generation glam rock, My next thing won't be glam rock. I'm telling you that, babe. I don't want to be involved in any of that. I don't put down anyone who is involved in it, but once the vision takes over from the music they're in bad shape." Marc Bolan 1973
We were never to find out if Marc Bolan would ever get any distance between himself and glam rock, but he was right about the so called "second generation" of glam acts. For most it was a case of image over any clear musical talent, with most performers just jumping onto the glam rock band wagon while it was still popular. Some had tried their hand at other styles long before glam came along (Alvin Stardust, Gary Glitter), while others were just manufactured, purpose made glam acts (Hello, Slik).

Fitting into the first category are Geordie who were a rock band from Newcastle upon Tyne. They had been around for some time before their first single, "Don't Do That" broke into the UK Top 40 in December 1972. Their sound was influenced by British rock bands of the day such as Led Zeppelin, as well as glam acts like Slade. They only had one UK Top 10 hit, 'All Because Of You' in April 1973 and one UK Top 20 hit, "Can You Do It" in July 1973.

Geordie are best known for their lead singer Brian Johnson, who would later join AC/DC after the death of their former frontman Bon Scott in 1980.

'Electric Lady' is an up tempo rocker in the Slade style released in August 1973, but only reaching number 32 in the UK. Although not having any great success this song is one of their better offerings and deserved to get higher than it did.

The Arrows fit more into the manufactured glam acts category. Originally a three piece who had hit singles in 1974/75 with Chinnichap songs 'Touch Too Much' and 'Toughen up', they were produced by Mickie Most for his RAK record label.

They also had two 14-week television series (The Arrows Show) in 1976 and 1977 on Granada Television, and are the only band to have two weekly TV series and no records released during the run of either series. Their final single "Once Upon A Time" was released two months before the first show of their first series in 1976. The reason given for this was contracts and lack of record label co-operation. They eventually split in 1977.

In spite of the lack of label cooperation, they left their mark and legacy in a song. The Arrows are now known in rock history as the band that wrote, recorded, and released the first version of "I love rock n roll", a song that has lasted 30 years in cover versions, most famously by Joan Jett which was a US number one in 1982. Britney Spears and others have also released versions of the song.
This version was first released as a B-side, but was soon re-recorded and flipped to A-side status on a subsequent pressing of the record. The song was not a hit in its original version as a result of non-existent promotion by the band's label.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Wizzard: This Is the Story of My Love (Baby) (a-side)

Roy Wood has had a varied musical career, forming and playing in some of rocks greatest bands.

In 1966 he formed the Move, who became one of the legendary sixties bands. Their single "Flowers in the Rain" was the first ever record to be played on BBC's Radio One. Roy's next musical venture was to team up with Jeff Lynne to form the Electric Light Orchestra. ELO’s first single, "10538 Overture", entered the charts as The Move’s final single, "California Man" left the Top 10.

Eventually, after leaving ELO in Jeff Lynne's hands he went on to his next venture. Wizzard were born from Roy's love of '50s rock & roll and a desire to mix the hard rock of the Move with a sound reminiscent of that produced by Phil Spector with his "wall of sound". If the music was big and bold then the image was bolder still. Wild, multi-coloured hair; face paint and an outlandish dress sense, (even for the glam rock period) made Wizzard an assault of sight and sound.

Wizzard's debut in the charts was "Ball Park Incident". This was followed up with two number 1’s in "See My Baby Jive" and "Angel Fingers" and the Christmas classic "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday". At the same time Roy was having hits under his own name and gave new meaning to the term "solo album" when he wrote, produced and played everything on the LP, "Boulders".

At one point in January 1974 Roy Wood's solo single "Forever" was at number 7, overtaking Wizzard's Christmas song at number 10. In the summer of that year, Roy Wood, Wizzard, and the Electric Light Orchestra were all in the charts at the same time.

By the end of 1975, Wood was all but burnt out. He had created a total of eleven band and solo hit singles, two Wizzard albums, and added a second solo album. But contractual problems added to over-work led to a slowing down process and live work became a casualty and was eventually abandoned. Wizzard disintegrated and record releases became less frequent. The group's fortunes, even as a singles band, faltered after this.

Wizzard's most famous album is "Wizzard's Brew" But it was the follow up that totally immersed itself in Wood's brash rock ’n roll pastiche. "Introducing Eddy & the Falcons" was released in 1974. One of the singles from this album is the powerful “This Is the Story of My Love (Baby)”.

In a similar vein to "Angel Fingers" it uses The 'wall of sound' production to great effect. Unfortunatley the single and the album were both a critical and commercial failure. “This Is the Story of My Love (Baby)” only reaching number 34 in the UK charts.

For a brief time Roy Wood and Wizzard released a series of varied pop singles that perfectly reflected the bright, 'over the top' music of the times. Hitting some fantastic peaks (Angel Fingers) but sometimes delivering derivative dross. (When Gran'ma Plays the Banjo).

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Andy Scott: Lady Starlight (a-side)

At the end of 1975 with glam rock taking it's last dying breath, Andy Scott guitarist with the Sweet released his first solo single titled "Lady Starlight".
The version here is the single cut, the song also appeared on Sweet's "Desolation Boulevard" album, but with a softer remix. A live acoustic version was also captured at a sound check before a gig in Japan.

Lady Starlight is often voted as Sweet's best ballad on fan forum sites, but is over-looked in critical appraisals of Sweet's music. This is a shame as in my opinion it stands up well in the Sweet's musical output during their heyday.

Scott didn't release his second solo single, "Gotta See Jane", until 1983 under the name "Ladders". It was a cover of the R. Dean Taylor Motown hit. A number of other solo singles were also released following this, but his only real solo musical achievement was "Lady Starlight".

Friday, 17 July 2009

Suzi Quatro - The Wild One (a-side)

Suzi Quatro seemingly emerged from nowhere in 1973, but she had been playing professionally for nearly a decade with The Pleasure Seekers a band consisting of her sisters Arlene and Patti. They were one of the few all girl garage bands to play their own instruments. In 1968 Arlene left the band to raise her kids (one of whom is actress Sherilyn Fenn) and was replaced by another sister Nancy.

In the early 70's British producer Mickie Most saw her play in her home town of Detroit and wanted to work with her as a solo act. Six months later she was on her way to London.

Her first single flopped, so she was hooked up to songwriters Chinnichap. The first 45 written for her Can the Can was a number one hit in the UK in 1973. Over the next few years the songwriting team would write about ten other British chart hits for her, including four top ten entries.

Quatro and her then husband Len Tuckey did write some of her material, though these were usually left for album tracks or B sides. A few of which might turn up on this blog at a later date.

She remained largely unknown in her native US until the late 70's when she had a semi-regular acting job in the sitcom Happy Days, as the guitar playing Leather Tuscadero. In 1979 she made the American top five with another Chinnichap song Stumblin In, a duet with Chris Norman of Smokie.

Suzi Quatro is unusual, in that she is probably the only woman to have success in the glam rock genre, and she did it by being more aggressive and masculine than her male contemporaries. Suzi Quatro showed that it was possible for a petite woman to play bass, sing and wear tight leather.

The Wild One is a 1974 a-side that reached number 7 in the UK singles chart, and was written by Chinnichap. It is one of her lesser known singles but one of my favourites.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Mike Chapman & Nicky Chinn (Songwriters/Producers)

The two people who had the most glam hits in the 70's were two men who never even appeared on Top of the Pops.

Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn (commonly known as Chinnichap) are the songwriters responsible for the hits of the Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Mud and Smokie to name just a few. From 1973 until 1978 they had an unbroken run of hit singles. In 1973 and 74 alone they had 19 hits in the top 40 of the UK singles chart, including 5 number ones.

Both men were already in the music industry when they first met. Chinn was a part time songwriter and Chapman a musician with the band Tangerine Peel.
The two of them joined up with Mickie Most's RAK label and began writing songs for the Sweet.

With the help of the two men, Sweet had an uninterrupted string of hits over the next few years, and Chinnichap went on to enjoy equal success with Mud and Suzi Quatro, including number one's with Tiger Feet, and Lonely This Christmas for Mud and Can the Can and Devil Gate Drive for Suzi Quatro.
Smokie were the next group to benefit from the Chinnichap magic having five hit singles between 1975 and 78.

Though often accused of churning out 'mechanical' music, no one can deny the popularity of their compositions. A lack of respect at the time, and since has led to accusations of 'deliberate commercialism, degrading the standard of music' Which is a bit rich when you consider the present day music industry.

In an interview with Nigel Thomas in 1974 Mike Chapman said:
"We write singles, but they're very much harder to sell than an album. Singles you've got to sell in three and a half minutes and you've got to sell it quick, and you've got to sell it good"
The duo were famous for beginning their songs with the title and then writing the song around that, for example 'Wig Wam Bam'. The songs were written rapidly, often overnight and recorded with equal speed. Later songs written for Smokie became more thoughtful and emotional, but still as catchy and tuneful.

It was only with the advent of punk rock that their star began to wane as fewer performers wanted to work with them. They continued to write hit songs well after the glam rock period had ended, such as Mickey a number one for Toni Basil and Kiss You All Over by Exile, but despite this Chinnichap eventually separated during the early 80's. Chapman turned to production with his greatest success being Blondie's Parallel Lines in 1978, while Chinn eventually left the music business all together. The only comparable songwriting partnership since with as great a success rate was the Stock, Aitken and Waterman team in the late 80's.

Tom Tom Turnaround is a song written by Chinnichap and performed here by the Sweet, but was originally a hit for Australian pop group New World in 1971.
"The bottom line is this. writing songs might be easy to do, but it's incredibly hard to do well"Mike Chapman, Guardian interview 2000.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Bauhaus - Telegram Sam & Ziggy Stardust (cover versions)

Here are some glam cover versions by 80’s Goth rock band Bauhaus. A couple of Bowie and T Rex covers to link in with the last Tony Visconti blog entry.

Even original music by Bauhaus always had elements of glam rock and heavy metal so it was appropriate that they released a cover of the T Rex song ‘Telegram Sam’ in September 1980. It was followed in 1982 with a version of Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ which reached number 15 in the charts.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Tony Visconti (Producer)

Tony Visconti has emerged as one of the most influential producers of the glam rock era through work with David Bowie and T Rex.
Visconti had relocated to London in 1968 and almost immediately began producing tracks by T Rex, followed soon after by Bowie’s Space Oddity album. Although working with other artists during this period, Bowie and T Rex remain the two acts that Visconti is best remembered for.

It was Visconti who played bass and toured with ‘The Hype’ along with Bowie, guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer John Cambridge. The band was short lived but this line up went on to record ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ album. Visconti also produced ‘Diamond Dogs’, and ‘Young Americans’ for Bowie, while for T Rex he produced the classic ‘Electric Warrior’ and ‘The Slider'.
Visconti continued to work with Bowie as the decade progressed, collaborating on ‘Low’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Lodger’ With production duties in 1980 on ‘Scary Monsters and Super Creeps'. Visconti renewed his association with Bowie, producing the albums ‘Heathen’ in 2002 and ‘Reality’ in 2003.
In more recent times he has produced albums for Morrissey, who had previously been produced by Mick Ronson on the ‘Your Arsenal’ album.
Metal Guru is a number one single from ‘the Slider’ album released in 1972. This version is a mash up of an earlier version from the Electric Warrior sessions, and the final version, after Visconti had added his magic.

Talking of Marc Bolan he said;
“He knew he was going to be big, and he had everything to back it up; talent, imagination and great songs. His melodies were absolutely superb”
The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud is also a mash up. The first half is from a BBC live session, with the normal version of the song coming in at the end.
“My greatest pride was my orchestral arrangement for "The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud". This was originally a throwaway B-side for "Space Oddity", but I heard orchestral parts in my head from the beginning. It took 5 whole days to write. I set up the studio of 50 musicians with David sitting right in the middle playing his acoustic 12-string. I was standing in front of him conducting the orchestra. At the mixing stage of this album, John Cambridge, the drummer, introduced us to his guitar player friend from Hull -- Mick Ronson. Mick came to the mix of "The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud", and was persuaded to play a little guitar line in the middle part and joined in the handclaps on the same section. That is actually the first appearance of Mick Ronson on a David Bowie album”