Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Successors Of Glam

Glam rock as a youth movement and a musical sub-genre was essentially over by the end of 1975. It had, if I’m being honest, been in slow decline since early in 1974. The best of the glam anthems had been and gone and established glam artists had either moved on to other pastures or were simply treading water.

There were a few Johnny come lately’ artists hanging on for grim death or trying to keep the whole thing going, but essentially glam was dead, its ability to outrage and shock had long since passed in the eyes of the public and mainstream media.

But can any musical genre ever truly be finished? In today’s world of unlimited access to music, (often highlighted in blogs such as this or accessed through sites like ‘Spotify’ and ‘You Tube’) every form of music is at your fingertips.

Even after its immediate mark on mainstream music had ended, the glamorous, aesthetic styles, unusual clothes and hard pop-rock sounds were a major influence upon the punk rock movement that followed.

Bowie, Bolan, and the New York Dolls among others directly influenced early punk bands such as The Ramones, Blondie, The Sex Pistols, The Damned (with whom Marc Bolan toured during 1977) and Siouxsie & the Banshees.

Glam would be an even bigger influence on post-punk bands such as Joy Division, The Cure, Adam and the Ants, on later ‘New Romantic’ artists such as Culture Club and Japan, and on late 70’s, early 80’s synthpop.

Artists like Gary Numan, Ultravox and Soft Cell were strongly influenced by glam in both image and sound, with some even starting out in glam bands.

The Gothic rock movement that also came from post-punk took cues from glam, and in particular Roxy Music and David Bowie. Artists such as these were a great influence on bands like Bauhaus who covered Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, and later Telegram Sam by T Rex.

In fact it has always been acknowledged that Roxy Music and especially David Bowie played a large part in shaping the new wave sounds that followed glam. Both used the genre and their retrospective influence to gain large commercial success in the early 1980s.

The Alternative and indie rock scene in the 90’s would also be influenced by glam, particularly in the UK. In the 1990s, Britpop referenced glam rock, with bands like Oasis using Slade and Mott the Hoople as primary influences.

Others include, Suede, Manic Street Preachers, Heavy Stereo, and even Morrissey whose album ‘Your Arsenal’ also had glam rock leanings, with production by Mick Ronson.

At the 2004 Brit awards David Bowie appeared with Placebo to sing a cover of T Rex’s 20th Century Boy, and in a direct line from glam via the Sex Pistols were one hit wonders Sigue Sigue Sputnik who recreated the glam sound in the 80’s with ‘Love Missile F1-11’, later to be covered by David Bowie himself, so the glam sound came full circle.

In America the glam rock influence can be seen in the emergence of ‘Glam Metal’. Hanoi Rocks (formed in 1979) are widely regarded as one of the first glam punk/metal bands.

In the beginning the American glam metal movement would take huge influence from glam rock bands like the New York Dolls. Quiet Riot had their first huge commercial success by covering Slade's 'Cum on Feel the Noize' in 1983.

However as time went on there was less of a pure glam rock sound in glam metal and it began to be more influenced by a number of different styles of 1980s pop music. Nonetheless, the Los Angeles music scene spawned many glam metal bands, including Poison and Twisted Sister.

In the UK (where glam was always more popular) bands such as The Quireboys and Girlschool emerged forging a glam metal sound to rival the American version.

In the intervening years, glam has enjoyed sporadic and modest revivals through bands as diverse as, The Darkness, Placebo, Gay Dad, Scissor Sisters, Goldfrapp and Marilyn Manson. Even into the present day with Lady Ga Ga and The Stereophonics, whose new single ‘Innocent’ has a definite glam rock rhythm and feel.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

What's in a name?

A little name changing didn't hurt in the glam rock world.

David Robert Jones - David Bowie
Marc Feld - Marc Bolan
Bernard William Jewry - Alvin Stardust
Paul Gadd - Gary Glitter
Barry Ian Green - Barry Blue
Frederick Bulsara - Freddie Mercury

Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice - Steve Harley
and best of all

Luther James Grosvenor - Ariel Bender (guitarist with Mott the Hoople)

Tyrannosaurus Rex - T Rex
The Sweetshop - The Sweet
Ambrose Slade - Slade

A couple of classic album tracks, a lost 45 and a Bowie out-take to check out.

'Baby Boomerang' taken from the album 'Slider' 1972
'How Can It Be' taken from 'Old New Borrowed and Blue' album 1974
'Turn It Down' was a single released in 1974 reaching #41 in the UK charts
'Sweet Head' is an out-take from the 'Ziggy Stardust' album in 1972

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Polecats: John I'm Only Dancing & Jeepster (cover versions)

The Polecats were a rockabilly style band formed in the late seventies, originally calling themselves the Cult Heroes.A record deal lead to the release in early 1981 of the double A-side, “John I'm Only Dancing/Big Green Car" on Phonogram's Mercury label. This got to #35 in the UK charts.Their third single release was another glam cover this time the old T Rex track "Jeepster". This got to #53 in the UK charts.
These cover songs are a bit different from the straight versions you normally hear. They have been given a rockabilly make over, which I think suits the styles of the songs perfectly.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


This is an edited repeat of the very first post on this blog for any one who missed it the first time around. I just wanted a bit of a re-cap about the philosophy behind the blog. The Sweet's live 1976 version of Ballroom Blitz has been added for good measure.

I bought my first 7" record in September 1973. I was ten years old. It was the Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz". I obviously had a lot of pocket money that week as I went out the next day to buy two more; "Angel Fingers" by Wizzard and "Life On Mars"? by David Bowie. That was only the beginning.

Glam Rock had some great music, (it also had lots of crap music) songs that would stand the test of time. But even at it's worst, it could still entertain, but with tongue firmly in cheek. Glam gave pop back to the kids after years of progressive rock doodling and fret-wank. To many it was a beacon of light in a country that was literally in the dark.

In most respects glam rock is totally fake, but to young kids like me it was real and alive. It may have been "Brickies in eyeliner" but to the kids it was "stardust for the dudes"?

This blog isn't here to give total insight into the glam rock genre and it's protagonists, it's here to give a taste of the sights and sounds of that era. The forgotten A-sides and album tracks that weren't fully appreciated the first time, and the equally forgotten and long lost B-sides that were the flip-side of what glam was all about.
I have tried to restrict myself to sharing songs from the period 1971 - 1975, these are considered to be the main glam rock years, but I'm sure songs either side of these dates will sometimes creep in. Others have walked through, and flirted with the glam world; the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart to name two. For every Bowie and Bolan there was an Alvin Stardust or Barry Blue. But even some of these 'second generation' glam artists could produce a decent song or two.
Of course I am looking back on all this from the perspective of a 46 year old man; wife, children and all that comes with that, but when I write this blog I am ten years old again and it's perpetually 1973. So I guess I will always have my rose tinted specs firmly on when looking back at that time.

I have loved other music with a greater passion since, but not with the same youthful joy, or with such a sense of longing and nostalgia when I hear it played. And now 36 years after buying that first single I sit here writing this.

I think that maybe when you find yourself, like me, at 45 RPM in life, your mind naturally returns to the past and your own inner groove.

"Are you ready Steve? Aha!
Andy? Yeah!
Mick? OK!
Alright fellas, lets go"

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Electric Light Orchestra: Ma Ma Ma Belle (Alt take)

"I feel that i've told the story of Marc Bolan playing double lead guitar with me on 'Ma Ma Ma Belle' so many times that I won't mention it again. Anyway it's true. What a nice thing"

"Marc Bolans a friend of mine from a few years back. He was in the studio just over-dubbing something, and we had a good laugh, a bit of a reunion. It was really good because it's given the whole thing a new feel"

Jeff Lynne sleeve notes from re-issue of 'On The Third Day' 2006

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Mick Rock (photographer)

all photos copyright Mick Rock

Mick Rock is a photographer best known for his iconic shots of 1970s glam rock icons and early punk stars such as David Bowie, Queen, Mick Ronson, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and Blondie.

By 1972, Mick Rock was already becoming well-known as a photographer, particularly for his photographs of Bowie and Ronson during the Ziggy Stardust tour, on which Mick Rock was the official photographer.

He is responsible for album covers including Queen's "Queen II" and "Sheer Heart Attack", David Bowie's "Space Oddity", Lou Reed's "Transformer" and Iggy and The Stooges "Raw Power". He also directed several of David Bowie's early music videos, including those for "Life on Mars?", "The Jean Genie" and
"Space Oddity".

See Life On Mars? video here.

His book “Moonage Daydream: The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust” features hundreds of photos of Bowie in his Ziggy period, and Rock was the only photographer to access all areas at the filming of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.

In 2005, he released a photo book called “Glam! An Eyewitness Account”.
It documents the evolving glam and later punk movements.

The following interview is taken from, “Q & A With Mick Rock”.

“The aptly named Mick Rock was the go-to photographer of the glam scene, creating a visual record of the era's icons -- from David Bowie provocatively chewing on Mick Ronson's guitar strings to a slinky Iggy Pop on the cover of Raw Power, to the Frankensteinian shot of Lou Reed on Transformer.

The newly reissued photo book "Glam!: An Eyewitness Account" (originally published as "Blood and Glitter" in 2001) documents all the major players and brings the makeup-caked men, women, and not-quite-sure-what-they-are into focus. Here, Rock reminisces about those debaucherous years”.

E.W: In the intro to "Glam!," you write: "First you seduce the retina, then you subvert the other senses. The first rule of glam." What does that mean?
Mick Rock: That was how David Bowie operated in the early days: get people's attention by the way you looked. Once they were intrigued with that, then they'd start listening to the music. To some degree, that was always true in rock & roll -- look at Elvis Presley. With glam it was very self-conscious to tart yourself up, attract attention, and then deliver the goods.
E.W: Was it really as hedonistic and wild as your photos make it seem?
M.R: Oh, yes, people got away with all kinds of stuff, though the press didn't really pry into it too much.
E.W: What did they get away with?
M.R: I'm gonna leave that to you, darling! [Laughs]
E.W: C'mon!
M.R: You know, partner swapping, the multisexual thing, the kinky stuff started to come out. It was a great time to be young and out of order. It was absolutely self-indulgent, but it was very creative.
EW: You also write in the intro that you acquired a taste for makeup -- why did you try it out?
M.R: I liked the way it looked... and the girls found me more attractive. Glam was not just a gay thing, it was absolutely equally a heterosexual scene. And if you wanted to get near all the hip girls, you needed to be tarted up a bit.

Glam! An Eyewitness Account by Mick Rock is available from Amazon.

"We couldn't have pounced without Marc Bolan. The little imp opened the door. What was so great, however, was that we knew he hadn't got it quite right. Sort of Glam 1.0. We were straining in the wings with versions 1.01 and 1.02, while Marc was still struggling with satin. But boy, he really rocked. He did, Y'know"
David Bowie from the foreword to Glam! An Eyewitness Account.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Kenny: The Bump (a-side), Mungo Jerry: Wild Love (a-side)

It was way back in 1974-75 when I was still a scruffy little 11 year old, and still reading "Buster" & "Shiver & Shake" comics that I first experienced the 'school disco'. Every Friday evening at 7 myself and all my friends would boogie on down to our Junior school gym to be put through one and a half hours of the latest and greatest 70's sounds.

Two of the songs that stand out from all the others at these sweaty gatherings were: "The Bump" by a band called Kenny and "Wild Love" by Mungo Jerry. The Bump, because it was always a way to get close to the girls (via the medium of dance) and maybe get to walk one of them home after the disco.

The Bump usually involved 'bumping' your hips together in some strange pre-pubesant mating ritual, where you only succeeded in actually inflicting injury and brusing to both parties.

The other song I remember was Wild Love. This time because the same girls who we tried to dance with during the Bump would put on a Pan's People style dance routine (that had obviously been practiced on in secret) for the benefit of all us boys.

As with most things time colours our perception of the past. Most of these evenings were just an attempt at (out of time) dancing while at the same time trying not to break an ankle in our platforms, or in my case squeeking away on the polished floor in black 'Converse' trainers.

Anyway incase your interested: In 1974 songwriters Bill Martin and Phil Coulter were looking for a group to promote some new songs. One of which was called "The Bump" which had recently entered the charts under the name of Kenny. This was really Coultier on vocals and a remixed backing track from the" Bay City Rollers".
The problem was that they desperately needed a group to be Kenny, and whoever became Kenny would have instant stardom and would appear on UK music show "Top of The Pops".

They agreed and felt that they needed a better lead singer to go with a new image. Therefore Rick Driscoll was recruited as lead vocalist.
The Bump reached #3 in the UK in 1974 released on the RAK label.
Mungo Jerry are an English rock group whose greatest success was in the early 1970s, although they have continued throughout the years with an ever-changing line-up, but always fronted by Ray Dorset.

They are best remembered for their hit "In the Summertime", and they made their national debut at the Hollywood Festival at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire in May 1970, the week "In the Summertime" was released.

The record topped the UK Singles Chart for seven weeks,and made number one in 26 countries around the world. Their second single "Baby Jump" also topped the UK chart in March 1971.

Ray Dorset has received three Ivor Novello Awards as a composer.
is an underated single released in 1973, only reaching #32 in the UK charts. I think it has stood the test of time better than other more successful Mungo Jerry songs.
"Wild Love"

Happy New Year.