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