Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Last Days of Glam

“Thanks for the memory
thanks for it all
Wham bam thank you mam
thanks for the ball”.
Slade – Thanks for the Memory (wham bam thank you mam)

So sang Slade in 1975 when glam was all but dead. It had been a relatively short ride, but a memorable one.

From 1971-1975 everything (musically at least) was tainted by glam rock, from Rod Stewart to The Rolling Stones. Glam Rock came to mean something different to everyone. Ultimately, glam became an opportunity for just about anyone to explore and exploit.

Some good bands had appeared during its twilight period, the most enduring being Cockney Rebel and Queen, but glam rock as a youth movement and a musical sub-genre was essentially over by the end of 1975.

It had 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 new pastures or were simply treading water.

A few artists were hanging on for grim death, 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.

The last days of glam could almost have been some half drunken pub/club act singing ‘My Way’ to bleary eyed, partied out, disinterested punters for all anyone cared.

It was like a time travelling Sid Vicious catapulted back three years singing his trashy and dare I say ‘punk-glam’ version to a shell shocked audience.

“And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain”.

Maybe Frank Sinatra’s more laid back version would be better suited to the lazy, ‘end of days’ feel of glam’s decline, but Frank is obviously not glam in any way, although I’m sure he would have looked great in satin and tat singing ‘Queen Bitch’.

So ‘Whatever happened to the teenage dream”?

Well it just sort of fizzled out as the kids woke up to other things, eventually showing distain and disinterest in an old sound and style. There was still the odd twitch here and there of the glam corpse, even as late as 1976/77, but by then it really was the end.

With Ziggy now in 'retirement', Bowie went on to create the album ‘Diamond Dogs’, which many interpreted as his farewell to the glam movement. His next incarnation would be as a soul crooner, albeit of the ‘plastic’ variety.

Likewise, Marc Bolan made a move toward soul music, though less successfully than Bowie. A combination of substance abuse, and internal strife all helped derail the career of Bolan and T. Rex, as well as alienating fans with a rapid change of styles.

The band quickly faded from the musical mainstream as their album sales and popularity collapsed. His later work produced rather messy and monotonous records with banal lyrics and recurring riffs.

Slade and the Sweet had hits well into the mid 1970s, but when punk arrived, both bands eventually became passe. In 1977, the Sweet changed their image and sound to be more 'progressive,' while Slade carried on as they were, until they found more commercial success (albeit sporadic) in the 80s.

Mud also continued to have smaller hits for a few years, but their future was in the cabaret and club circuit.

Others searched for integrity in their music, Roxy Music carried on until their 1976 split, although when the band reformed they experienced their greatest period of commercial success in the new wave movement of the early 1980s.

Former keyboardist Brian Eno released a few albums of glam leanings before becoming a pioneer in ambient music and a popular producer.

In the United States, the New York Dolls split in 1975, and Lou Reed and Iggy Pop were doing their own thing in their own way.

Gary Glitter carried on as an even greater parody of himself well into the new millennium, until his decidedly un-musical activities caught up with him.

Glam also-rans like Alvin Stardust and the Glitter Band continued for a while before sliding into semi obscurity/retirement. And even Suzi Quatro, eventually turned to musical theatre and an acting career.

There was a storm on the horizon, moving quickly towards the safe harbour where glam was sheltering. A lot of the glam artists were after all already just the “Flotsam and Jetsam of the Music Biz, the Walking Dead and Has-Beens of the Recent (and Not-So-Recent) past”.

‘Year Zero’ and punk rock was about to end their comfortable state of affairs and calm waters for good.

Even in the glam heyday of 1973 a Melody Maker review of the first Queen LP was captioned ‘The Fag-end of Glam’. So from that point of view it had already out stayed and out played its welcome.

“There were times when he wanted to be a musician, and times he wanted to be a star. That was his main internal struggle”. Producer Tony Visconti said when talking about Marc Bolan, but he could just as easily have been talking about glam rock in general.

A friend of mine stopped buying records after 1975, and didn’t really start again until 1979. He couldn’t give me a reason, possibly a hangover from the sweetness and sickliness of the glam years, or maybe he just lost interest. Who knows?

I left glam rock behind at 12, not really listening too, or thinking about it for a good many years, but it was always there, lingering just below the surface to jump out when I least expected it.

Often during some drunk Christmas or New Year disco, where I would be minding my own business and out would pop Slade over the sound system wishing me a merry Xmas and a glittering ‘Ho Ho Ho’.

It is only now in my middle age that I have come to appreciate the music and leave behind any prejudices that I had and can just simply listen to the songs and enjoy.

So rest in peace glam rock, and sincerely; wham bam thank you Glam, thanks for the ball.

Photo copyright Mick Rock

Slade: Thanks for the Memory (wham bam thank you mam) - Last days of Glam Mix

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Happy Holiday

Off on holiday for 2 weeks.
Here's the always great Pans People with a 1973 classic to keep things going.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Arrows: Touch Too Much (a-side)

‘Touch Too Much’ is a 1974 top 10 UK hit by the Arrows.

The song was composed by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, and according to the ‘Songfacts’ website, the song was turned down by David Cassidy, Suzi Quatro and The Sweet.

The recording was produced by Mickie Most and released on RAK Records.
The Arrows: Touch Too Much

Friday, 17 June 2011

Mott the Hoople: One of the Boys (b-side)

"know that I grow my hair just to scare my teacher". B-side to 'All the Young Dudes' released in 1972.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Bay City Rollers: Give a Little Love (a-side), Kenny: Fancy Pants (a-side)

Some songs you love because they are simply great songs. Some songs you love because they say something to you personally, or evoke memories of happy times.

Some songs you love for no real reason. And some songs you love but (even under torture) wouldn't admit to liking.

These are the so called 'guilty pleasures'. A whole industry has sprung up around this from compilation CD's to night clubs.

Here are two glam guilty pleasures of mine. But don't tell anyone.

Give a Little Love is a UK #1 by the Bay City Rollers from 1975.

Fancy Pants is a 1975 single by Kenny.

Bay City Rollers: Give a Little Love
Kenny: Fancy Pants

Monday, 6 June 2011

Life After Glam (part 2)

Roy Wood & Wizzard: Indiana Rainbow (a-side) released in 1976 this did not chart, a sign of things to come for ex glam rock artists.

Suzi Quatro: She's In Love With You (a-side) released in 1978 this ChinniChap song reached #11 but was her last big hit.

Mud: L, L, Lucy (a-side) released in 1975, reaching #10. Mud had a few more moderate hits, but then they too slipped into semi obscurity.

Roy Wood: Indiana Rainbow
Mud: L L Lucy

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Life After Glam (part 1)

So with the glam rock years slowly fading into memory - what music was produced by some of its guiding lights?

Slade: Nobody's Fool (a-side) released in 1976 - This song did not chart at all even in the UK, the first Slade song to do so. In fact they didn't have another top 40 hit until 1981.

Sweet: Stairway to the Stars (a-side) released in 1977 - As with Slade this song did not chart in the UK. They would only have one other major hit with Love is Like Oxygen in 1978.

T Rex: Dandy in the Underworld (a-side) released in 1977 - This also didn't chart. For Marc Bolan and T Rex it was a case of diminishing returns as far as chart action was concerned.

I guess the time for the big glam acts to have major hits was over. But I can't help thinking that had the above songs been released in 73 or 74 they would have been top 10.

Slade: Nobody's Fool
T.Rex: Dandy in the Underworld

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Suzi Q's Glam Rock Jukebox

20th Century Boy
Gudbuy T' Jane
Wig Wam Bam
Drive In Saturday
The Cat Crept In
Rock N Roll part 1
The Golden Age of Rock N Roll
Can the Can
Juke Box Jive
Mr Soft
Dancing (on a Saturday Night)
Rock and Roll Winter
Rubber Bullets
All Because of You
Mix by Stardust Kid 2011

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Bobbie McGee: Rock and Roll People (a-side)

The spectacularly named Lady Teresa Anna Von Arletowicz, was better known as Bobbie McGee and released the single “Rock and Roll People” in 1973.

Originally from London via South Africa she was nicknamed “Gladys Glitter” by the British press at the time. Sadly any great success was to elude her in the UK where there was only room for one glam rock chick in Suzi Quatro.

She continued to release singles until 76 but never really got the recognition she deserved and now has something of a cult following.

Bobbie McGee: Rock and Roll People

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Turn another page on the Teenage Rampage Now!

Fellow blogger “Steve Does Comics” ran a post a few weeks ago about how certain songs reminded him of comics that he had bought.

One of my own posts explained how I associate Sparks ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us’ with The Avengers # 100 and a holiday in Great Yarmouth.

So with that in mind I thought I would put together my own list of the glam rock songs that remind me of certain comics, magazines or books.

1. Avengers UK # 28 – March 1974
Ah yes the joys of playing truant from school and buying a comic to read in the bus station while Roll Away the Stone by Mott the Hoople plays on someone's portable radio. (Don’t do it kids, besides I got caught so no pocket money for weeks).

Who could resist the kung fu-tastic Shang-Chi bursting through the comic cover and into my young life. And all for 6p.

2. Shiver and Shake – 1973
Rockin and boppin with Frankie Stein and Sweeny Toddler to Mud’s Rocket.

3. Raven Sword Mistress of Chaos – 1978
The first book didn’t come out until 1978 but it always reminds me of Bowie’s Rock and Roll Suicide from the Ziggy Stardust album.
There’s nothing like a classic Bowie album on the stereogram and a book about a half naked woman with a sword. I was 15; young; hormones and all that. A great cover illustration by Chris Achilleos was a bonus.

4. Look In - 1973 onwards
The classic British TV related picture and story magazine and the Glitter Band’s Angel Face.

 5. Spider-Man Comics Weekly UK # 109 – March 1975
Great cover – well worth the wait to see the Black Widow in her new and improved costume. Anyway this always makes me think of the Sweet’s Teenage Rampage.

 6. The Three Investigators: The Secret of Terror Castle and others
I bought all this series of books as a kid. My friend Brian and I even tried to set up our own investigating agency. Never quite worked out, The Mystery of the Rickety Gate didn’t have the same ring as the above.
But we enjoyed listening to My Friend Stan by Slade while we were dreaming of becoming great detectives.

"Childhood is a journey through another land, lost to us now, to be found only in memory"

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Suzi Q's Glam Rock Jukebox

Get It On
Hell Raiser
Cum On Feel The Noize
Always Yours
Devil Gate Drive
Killer Queen
Lets Get Together Again
Rebel Rebel
Shang A Lang
See My Baby Jive
Metal Guru
Ballroom Blitz
Mix by Stardust Kid 2011

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Taken from “The Glory of Glam” Radio 2 2010, presented by Gary Kemp.

Glam was glorious. Brought on by rock's self indulgent pretensions in 1970 when psychedelia and prog rock were at their peak, glam brought a satin and sequin-fuelled return to the frivolous basics of rock 'n' roll and created the biggest, brightest, shiniest beast the music business had seen.

In the first programme, The Birth of Glam, Gary looks at the fascinating relationship between Marc Bolan and David Bowie and considers how it helped fuel the flamboyant creation of glam. As Angie Bowie says: "David and Marc liked each other very much and at certain times were great friends, but they were also bitter rivals." 

Both Marc and David had spent the 60's as itinerant musicians, drifting through a succession of image changes whilst searching for pop stardom. In the mid 60s they were mods, then hippies, as they experimented with a variety of styles in search of their own musical niche.

Inspired by Syd Barrett's early work with Pink Floyd, and assisted by the producer/engineer Tony Visconti, Marc and David began incorporating fantasy and theatrics into their live and recorded work. In 1970, following a night spent at Eric Clapton's house watching him play guitar, Marc ditched the acoustic guitar, which he'd used for four albums worth of hippie folk with Tyrannosaurus Rex, and plugged in a brand new Fender Stratocaster.

On July 1, 1970 he recorded a startling 2 minute piece of perfect pop that re-launched the single as a work of art in electrifying fashion. Ride a White Swan, released by the newly abbreviated T-Rex, quickly peaked at No 2 on the charts. 

Inspired by his first taste of major pop success Marc began a short but explosive era of chart domination that included the singles Hot Love, Get It On, Jeepster, Telegram Sam, Metal Guru, Children of The Revolution, Solid Gold Easy Action, 20th Century Boy and the albums Electric Warrior, The Slider and Tanx .

In support of their hit singles and albums, Bolan and T-Rex toured constantly and flounced on to stages around the world in ever more flamboyant costumes of sequins and satins, all propped up on impossibly high platform boots, as the glam craze they helped create became incredibly popular.

While Marc was incorporating electric guitar into his music, and sourcing outrageous costumes from trendy boutiques, he was a regular visitor to David Bowie's home in Beckenham, Kent. Haddon Hall had become a musician's commune which one visitor compared to "Dracula's living room". 

With various members of his band and their accompanying girlfriends, wives and boyfriends as housemates, David wrote and rehearsed songs for the album The Man Who Sold The World, which Tony Visconti began recording once he'd competed work on the album T-Rex. 

Inspired by Andy Warhol and American bands like the New York Dolls and Velvet Underground, David's new album had a tougher edge to it and encouraged by his new wife Angie he began experimenting with new androgynous outfits and was photographed for the album cover wearing what he called a "man dress".

For the follow up album Hunky Dory, David channelled Greta Garbo for the cover and with songs like Changes and Oh You Pretty Things he re-inforced the bi-sexual persona he was promoting on stage. The album also included Life on Mars, a precursor to the next persona unleashed on the world in June 1972, with the release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars.

Over an 18 month period Ziggy became the epitome of glam. Released the same month as T-Rex released The Slider album, and Roxy Music released their debut self titled LP, the Ziggy Stardust album became a benchmark by which all other glam albums were judged. 

With Marc, David and Roxy Music all dominating the charts in late 1972 and 1973, several rock bands who had been carving out solid but unspectacular careers for several years, also decided to add satin and sequins to their stage outfits and suddenly The Sweet, Slade, Mud, Wizzard, Gary Glitter and Alvin Stardust were among the bands that rode the crest of the wave.

Contributors include David Bowie, Tony Visconti, Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera, Noddy Holder, Mike Chapman, Rick Wakeman, Angie Bowie, Steve Harley, Antony Price, Mick Rock, Iggy Pop and archive interviews with Marc Bolan.

In Dressed To Kill, the second part of The Glory of Glam, Gary Kemp highlights the most successful acts of the glam era and discovers why their influence is still being heard in many of today's new bands.

In the summer of 1972, as T-Rex released The Slider and David Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, Roxy Music released their debut self-titled album and began touring their own version of glamorous art-influenced rock'n'roll. With stunning outfits created by designer Antony Price, Roxy became as influential as Marc and David.

In fact Roxy Music and The Spiders From Mars shared the bill at several venues in 1972, playing to small audiences who according to Phil Manzanera "weren't quite sure what they were seeing with all that glitz and glam."

Inspired by the chart success that glam artists were achieving, several rock bands who had been carving out solid but unspectacular careers for years, also decided to add satin and sequins to their stage outfits and suddenly The Sweet, Slade, Mud, Wizzard, Gary Glitter and Alvin Stardust were among those enjoying chart success. 

Along with 10CC, Sparks, Mott The Hoople, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Queen, Cockney Rebel, and even Suzi Quatro, who enjoyed chart success with the help of a bit of additional glitter. Even major acts like Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones and Elton John dabbled in a bit of sparkly make-up. 

As Angie Bowie recalls, "thanks to David and Marc they all realised that girls like pretty boys".
Not really a pretty boy.
Contributors include John Lydon, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Steve Harley, David Bowie, Tony Visconti, Bryan Ferry, Boz Boorer, Pete Phipps, Noddy Holder, Roger Taylor, Marc Almond, Paolo Hewitt, Storm Thorgerson, Antony Price, Phil Manzanera, Mike Chapman, Rick Wakeman, Angie Bowie, Mick Rock, Suzi Quatro, Iggy Pop and archive interviews with Marc Bolan.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sweet: Tom Tom Turnaround (album track), New World: Tom Tom Turnaround (a-side), Light Fantastic: Jeanie (a-side)

To put it in boxing terms; in the first round we had the Sweet vs. Tony Blackburn (see here); a knock-out to the Sweet and strictly lightweight.

To kick off round two we have the Sweet vs. New World and 'Tom Tom Turnaround'. I think a technical knock-out to the Sweet in this lower middleweight contest.

Round three puts the Sweet up against journeymen Light Fantastic and 'Jeanie' (see here). A fair result would be a draw.

But the heavyweight championship of glam songs pits the Sweet against king of the ring David Bowie. It’s the ‘slammer in the glammer’, a ‘Hitter in the glitter’ a ‘Shake up with the make up’, its 'Blockbuster' vs. 'the Jean Genie'.

It’s a points win for the Sweet by virtue of it reaching # 1 in the UK charts.

The opening riff of the song is not the only thing they have in common. Both songs were released in 1972 and both were on the RCA record label.

The Sweet's single, written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, was recorded and released slightly later than Bowie's song, but it went on to reach #1 in the UK charts while "The Jean Genie" could only reach #2.

When asked about the songs similarities, Nicky Chinn stated: "Oh, absolute coincidence. The ridiculous thing was, of course, they were both on the same record label (RCA). But I know we had never heard Bowie's 'Jean Genie' and to the best of my knowledge he hadn't heard 'Blockbuster'.

There was a lot of fuss about it at the time. I think it's interesting to note, and again it was not a conscious thing on our part, but the riff is extremely similar to 'I'm A Man' by The Yardbirds. Fortunately, we went to No. 1 and Bowie went to 2."  - Record Collector (1998) talking to Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman

Chinn went on to describe a meeting with Bowie at which the latter "looked at me completely deadpan and said 'Cunt!' And then he got up and gave me a hug and said, 'Congratulations” 

Light Fantastic: Jeanie

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Suzi Q's Glam Rock Jukebox

This is the 100th post, so in celebration I present -

Jean Genie
The Groover
Tiger Feet
48 Crash
Crazy Horses
Rock On
Bangin Man
I Love You Love Me Love
Angel Fingers
Ziggy Stardust
All The Way From Memphis
Schools Out
My Coo Ca Choo
Sugar Baby Love

Mix by Stardust Kid 2011

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Mott the Hoople: Hymn for the Dudes (album track), T Rex: Raw Ramp (b-side)

Ok, the first one isn’t a b-side, I just like it.

The second track is a b-side and appeared on the T Rex # 1 single “Get It On” in 1971. I love the way it goes from a slow, string infused song into a more trademark Bolan rock n roll boogie.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Glam on TV

Unlike its coverage in the movies glam rock had a better time on British TV, although this did come towards the end of glam rock’s popularity, and in the case of “Marc” well after glam rock's heyday.

The major music programme of the time was Top of the Pops. TOTP has already been covered here on this blog, so I will start with ‘Supersonic’ a British children's television music show which also featured pop music artists of the day.

Launched in 1975, it was produced by London Weekend Television for the ITV network and ran for two years. The show lasted 30 minutes and was broadcast, firstly, on Thursday afternoons and then moved to a Saturday afternoon slot. The programme was presented by film and music producer Mike Mansfield.

Although the show starred performers with songs in the music charts, unlike its BBC rival Top of the Pops, it was not chart-based. Whilst Top of the Pops ran all year, Supersonic had a limited run with season one consisting of 30 editions and season two consisting of 28.

The show was recorded in front of an audience of children at the South Bank Television Centre and had a style of production in which cameras were highly visible and areas such as the production gallery were featured. 

Its host also doubled up as producer and director, cueing in performances from the studio gallery instead of presenting conventional links to camera.

“Shang-a-Lang” was a children's pop music series starring the Scottish band, the Bay City Rollers. It was produced in Manchester by Granada Television for the ITV network and ran for one 20-week series in 1975. 

It featured the band in a number of comedy sketches and performing their songs to a live studio audience made up of their teenage fans. This resulted in chaotic scenes at times as some members of the audience attempted to run onto the studio floor to meet their heroes, resulting in security officers having to forcibly restrain or even eject them from the studio.

The show's theme song "Shang-a-Lang” was a hit single for the group, peaking at number 2 in 1974 in the UK.

In 1976/77 the ITV network also produced “The Arrows Show”. The band would perform their own songs, and would also introduce guest artists, that included Marc Bolan, The Bay City Rollers, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Peter Noone, Alvin Stardust, Slade, Pilot and many more.

The band were popular in the teen print media in the mid 1970s, appearing in interviews and as pin-ups in all the glossy fan magazines of the day. They even had their own weekly cartoon strip which ran in ‘Music Star’ magazine.

The Arrows are the only band in pop music history to have a weekly TV series of their own and no records released. Although they had hit singles before their series, the band released no recordings during the entire run of the shows, both series.

This unusual situation was due to a legal wrangle with their record label. Their last single release was two months before the first broadcast Arrows TV show. There were 28 Arrows Shows in total. 

Historically, The Arrows are now best known for writing, recording, and releasing the first version of the song "I Love Rock 'N Roll" in 1975, a year before the band had their TV series.

And last but not least was “Marc”.

In early 1977, Bolan got a new band together, released a new album, ‘Dandy in the Underworld’, and set out on a fresh UK tour, taking along punk band The Damned as support to entice a young audience who did not remember his heyday.

Granada Television commissioned Bolan to front a six-part series called Marc, where he introduced new and established bands and performed his own songs. By this time Bolan had lost weight, appearing as trim as he had during the height of T. Rex's popularity.

The show was broadcast during the post-school half-hour on ITV earmarked for children and teenagers; it was a big success. The last episode featured a unique Bolan duet with David Bowie during which Bolan fell off the stage. With no time for a retake, this occurrence was aired and Bowie's amusement was clearly visible and is reported to have called out "Could we have a wooden box for Marc [to stand on]?”

The show gave Bolan a chance to showcase punk bands, including Generation X, The Jam and Eddie and the Hot Rods. T. Rex performed three songs each week - a mixture of new versions of their old hits, and fresh tracks - while the guests were slotted in between.

It ran for six weekly episodes in the autumn of 1977, before its host died in a car crash on 16 September that year. The final show was recorded on 7 September 1977, but not broadcast until after Bolan's funeral on (20 September 1977).

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Cozy Powell: Dance with the Devil (a-side), Mud: Watching the Clock (b-side)

Here are a couple of glam rock instrumentals to check out.

Cozy Powell, was an English rock drummer who made his name with many major rock bands over the years.

Powell stopped playing in other bands long enough to record two singles including "Dance with the Devil" which reached #3 in the UK singles chart during January 1974. The track featured Suzi Quatro on bass.

 Cozy Powell died on 5 April 1998 following a car crash while driving his Saab 9000 at 104 mph (167 km/h) in bad weather on the M4 motorway near Bristol.

In 1978, the distinctive drum patterns, march breaks and chants formed the basis of Boney M's disco track "Nightflight to Venus" The chorus melody is taken from Jimi Hendrix's “Third Stone from The Sun” and would also be sampled for Right Said Fred's early Nineties hit "I'm Too Sexy."

After Mud had released "The Cat Crept In" in 1974 they also released another track from their album “Mud Rock”, a cover of "In the Mood". This was released under the name of Dum (Mud spelt backwards), but failed to chart.

The b-side to this was "Watching the Clock". This seemed to be a popular song for Mud who also released slightly different versions as b-sides on their singles ‘Oh Boy’ and ‘The Secrets that you keep’, where it was re-titled as ‘Still Watching the Clock’.

Cozy Powell: Dance with the Devil
Mud (Dum): Watching the Clock

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Top of the Pops LP

If you were to take a close look at my record collection back in the 70's (such as it was) you would have seen a few strange yet alluring compilation albums called "Top of the Pops".

In among the Bowie, T Rex and Slade were record covers that demanded your attention, and (to a ten year old boy) even appeared daring and risqué if a little embarrassing.

The record sleeves were great, but the music was rubbish; modern day hits played and sung by session musicians. I'm sure when I got these albums as gifts from various aunts and uncles I appeared grateful, but deep down I really wanted an "Airfix" model or a "Warlord" annual.

These days a full collection of these albums would bring a great price on "Ebay", but sadly the few that I owned are long gone.

Vol 36, 1974
They were first released in the late 60’s, (as an unauthorised spin off from the Top of the Pops TV show)  by Pickwick Records on their Hallmark label. 

The records contained anonymous cover versions of recent and current hit singles. The recordings were intended to replicate the sound of the original hits as closely as possible. The albums were recorded by a studio group comprising session musicians and singers who remained unaccredited, although they included Elton John and Tina Charles before their fame.

Record producer Alan Crawford conceived the idea for the Top of the Pops albums, having noted several UK labels such as Music for Pleasure pioneer the anonymous covers format during 1967 and 1968. 

Crawford's key idea was to create a continuous series of albums with the same title. The Pickwick label agreed to undertake Crawford's idea and the first volume was issued in mid-1968.

Vol 27, 1972

In 1969 new volumes began appearing at generally regular intervals, with a new LP released every six to eight weeks. Volume numbers were not stated on the record sleeves, each edition simply called "Top of the Pops", the name derived from the un-trademarked BBC television show with which there was no direct connection.

During the early 1970s, the Top of the Pops series enjoyed considerable success and buoyant sales. Budget albums were accepted into the main UK album charts for a few months in 1971, during which four Top of the Pops LPs charted, and two made No. 1. 

Vol 50, 1975

However they were disqualified in early 1972 since their budget selling price was perceived as giving them an unfair advantage in the market.

The albums continued to be released at regular intervals throughout the 1970s, with the general theme and cover art largely unchanged throughout. The cover designs are iconic, featuring female models in period attire, some with the models in skimpy clothing such as miniskirts and bikinis.

Monday, 21 February 2011

10cc: The Dean and I (a-side)

"Humdrum days and a humdrum ways" so sang 10cc in 1973. 

Britain in the early seventies may have been endless days of blackouts, strikes and three day weeks, but glam rock was an attempt to add colour to the grey landscape.

Not that I noticed any of the depression of the seventies, the harsh realities of everyday life were for my parents to worry about. As a young boy I was more concerned with comics, football, bikes, and what colour ‘Slade’ socks to choose.

All of this during long endless summers and deep, snow filled winters. The world is great when you’re ten and even better when viewed through rose tinted shades riding a Raleigh ‘Chopper’.

Anyway 10cc consisted of four musicians/songwriters - Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Crème. They had written and recorded together for about three years, before assuming the "10cc" name in 1972.

"The Dean and I" is a song from their 1973 eponymous debut album, written by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The song was released as the third single from the album in August 1973 and peaked at #10 on the UK Singles Chart.

“The song is written from the perspective of an American father telling his children about how he met and fell in love with their mother, with the first real line of the song being "Hey, kids, let me tell you how I met your mom. We were dancing and romancing at the senior prom". The epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton is mentioned in the lyrics. The later part of the lyric tackles the grim realities of middle-aged married life "...when the paint is peeling, and all the chips are down..."

 10cc: The Dean and I

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco

In late 1971 music industry publicist Rodney Bingenheimer moved to London after becoming fed up with the American music industry. 

While in England he saw the birth of the Glam Rock movement and it was David Bowie who suggested Bingenheimer open a Glam club in Los Angeles.

Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco opened on the Sunset Strip from late 1972 until 1975. Kids came from all over to listen to the latest glam pop sounds from England such as Bowie, Queen, Suzi Quatro and Roxy Music. 

It was also the place to come mingle with those rock stars. A young Joan Jett would hang out here, along with Marc Bolan of T-Rex, Led Zeppelin. Glam rock was huge with the underground scene.

The following quotes are taken from various sources.

Kim Fowley recalled, "The English Disco was more a public-toilet version of the E Club. The new location gave it the teenage stench it needed. Everybody had great hair and great make-up, and there were Lolita girls everywhere”.

It soon became the centre of the new ‘Glitter Rock’ movement in Los Angeles. Bowie's biography noted, "The crowd at the club ranged in age from twelve to fifteen... nymphet groupies were stars in their tight little world. As they danced they mimed fellatio and cunnilingus in tribute to David's onstage act of fellatio on Ronno's guitar."

In November 1973 writer Richard Cromelin reported, "Once inside, everybody's a star”.

Newsweek magazine reported in January 1974 that "The dance floor is a dizzy kaleidoscope of lamè hot pants, sequined halters, rhinestone-studded cheeks, thrift-store any things and see-through every things. During the breaks, 14-year-old girls on 6-inch platforms teeter into the back bathrooms to grope with their partners of the moment. Most of the sex is as mixed as the drinks and the drugs the kids bring with them”.

Iggy Pop, who had become a forlorn figure in the glam world, was often seen at the club. Kid Congo, later guitarist with The Cramps and Gun Club, remembered "Iggy on the street outside the Disco, pulling his dress up and exposing himself, and Rodney crying because he thought he was going to be arrested."

Writer Nick Kent also recalled, "I saw Iggy there many a time, stoned out of his gourd, lost to the world and to himself as well, staring at his face and form in those mirrored walls - staring at his reflection like Narcissus drugged out in teenage-disco-hell”.

The club had its dark side, however. In 1999 writer Lisa Fancher wrote how Joan Jett "was walking up to Rodney’s one Friday night when she saw a dead body out front, an obvious OD, and nobody was paying any attention at all. The kids just kept walking into the club. The Sweet was flooding out the door and everybody just kept on dancing”.

By the fall of 1974 Glitter Rock in the US was waning in popularity. In October the Palladium held a "Death of Glitter" night, with performances by the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop and Silverhead. Rodney's deejay Chuckie Star recalled, "All over Hollywood that night it was glitter! Glitter! The line to get into the Palladium was incredible-everyone in LA knew it was their last chance to wear platform shoes and eyeshadow. 

This was it! Surfers from Malibu were there in midriff shirts, silver space boots, and blue eye makeup, hugging their girlfriends as they waited to get in."

The New York Dolls ended the show as Chuckie Star was carried onto the stage in a glitter coffin, into which the crowd threw roses, glitter and lipstick. Nick Kent wrote, "If it wasn’t quite The Beautiful and the Damned it was certainly the pretty and the damned- everyone was, you know, 'going to hell' and nobody cared. 

Remembering the end of the LA Glitter groupie scene Pamela Des Barres wrote, "You couldn’t trust the new LA groupies, who were desperate, discouraged, groveling ego seekers. The love of music had become secondary to preening in Star magazine, standing next to anybody in a Band. It was scary out there. It was fictitious and haunted."

Partnership and licensing problems led Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco to close in early 1975. Pleasant Gehman later wrote, "We were a crowd of groupies, teenage hustlers, bisexual schoolgirls, and fringy, juvenile sluts looking for a good time. We’d hang out at weird coffeeshops (like Arthur J’s, the Gold Cup, and Danielle’s, where drag-queen hookers would meet their tricks in the bathroom), or we’d go to Westwood to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the millionth time.

These places didn’t serve alcohol, so of course they didn’t card you. And you could feel totally at home in your fishnets, heavy makeup, and divinely decadent attitude. I mean, who was going to hassle you over your hair color? A drag queen? Rodney’s English Disco had closed down, and the Masque wasn’t yet open so these were our haunts."

David Bowie told ‘Q’ magazine in 1993, “Alone in L.A. Rodney seemed like myself, an island of anglo 'nowness'. He even knew British singles and bands that I wasn't aware of. There was nothing about him that wasn't 'on'. Rodney single-handedly cut a path through the treacle of the 60's, allowing all we 'avants' to parade our sounds of tomorrow, dressing in our clothes of derision"

Q&A With Rodney Bingenheimer from Feb 10 2005.

Chris Tilly catches up with Rodney Bingenheimer - Radio DJ, nightclub owner, pop impresario and star of the new documentary 'Mayor of the Sunset Strip'.

Q: Looking back is there any period you remember with the most fondness?

A: Definitely glam rock – Bowie, T-Rex, Slade – those were all bands I loved and played in my club, Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco. I started the club after I went to London and stayed in Ealing Broadway. 

There was this little place called The Cellar near the tube where they played this amazing music. Bowie suggested that next time I went to LA I start a club like that and I ended up doing it!

Q: Was that how you got so heavily into the English bands then?

A: I'd always been into English music growing up – watching the Beatles and great TV shows like Ed Sullivan and Shindig – hearing all that music that was so happy and positive.