MONDAY, MAY 4, 2015
WEEK 18: GLAM
It’s a fact that anyone who’s ever going to develop a love affair with pop always does so by the age of ten or eleven, twelve at the latest. In 1971 I had just turned eleven so was ripe for the picking! I had never been interested in pop but when you’re a pre-teeny tween, your world and mindset can change a million times a day for no apparent reason. Just a few months later, I began to realise that not only were girls sugar and spice and all things nice, but that pop could take me anywhere I wanted to go without even leaving my bedroom.
Amidst all the novelty schlock and bubblegum I was losing myself in, I couldn’t help but notice a song that was instantly more alluring and magical. Hearing T.Rex’s ‘Get It On’ for the first time, before I even knew what Bolan looked like, was my key to revealing the secret mysteries of pop power and rock’n’roll glamour. Watching him on Top Of The Pop’s a week later, the glitter sparkling beneath his eyes, was even more mind blowing, a life defining moment ensnaring me in the web of glam.
Dancing on the grave of the sixties, glam was urban panic music, explicitly youth orientated, screaming ’If you’ve got it flaunt it and if you haven’t got it, fake it, cover yourself in stardust and sequins and reinvent yourself’. Simple, flash and disposable, it injected pure fun into the pop mainstream. What an amazing thing to line up at the start line of puberty with Bolan, Bowie, Roxy Music, Lou Reed and Mott The Hoople as the party tape playing in your head.
The reawakening of the hit single was buttressed by speedily made glam albums padded with revivalist rock’n’roll and unoriginal originals. Yet even when the production line chancers moved in with the mien fuehrer of glam Gary Glitter, The Sweet, Mud and Suzi Quatro, the music and images remained thrillingly entertaining. They were the not-so-cool side of glam, the ‘brickies in make up’, the star studded shams. Even at 13 I knew who the real stars were.
Bolan always claimed that once he’d done all the work and kicked in the doors, Bowie sauntered in to take the credibility. All I know is that Bowie’s brilliant alien anthems added immeasurably to my humdrum teenage existence, his artfulness leading me to the darker kicks of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, Roxy Music’s retro future mix of kitsch and the avant-garde, and the supremely trashy rock’n’roll of the New York Dolls.
Like most genres tied to a specific time, glam carried with it the seeds of its own destruction. By the autumn of 1974 it was over, yet it still managed to leave a magnificent legacy of geniuses and madmen, poseurs and philosophers, stars and fools. While it is often ridiculed as trite nonsense, glam was vital if only because it enabled a generation of teenage misfits to find their voice, and through that self belief and empowerment, sow the seeds of punk.
01 T. REX ‘Get It On’ (A Side July 1971)
02 DAVID BOWIE ‘Lady Stardust’ (Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars LP June 1972)
03 MOTT THE HOOPLE ‘All The Young Dudes’ (A Side July 1972)
04 GARY GLITTER ‘I Didn’t Know I Loved You (Til’ I Saw You Rock’n’Roll)’ (A Side September 1972)
05 SLADE ‘Gudbuy T’Jane’ (A Side November 1972)
06 LOU REED ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ (Transformer LP November 1972)
07 SWEET ‘Blockbuster’ (A Side January 1973)
08 ROXY MUSIC ‘Pyjamarama’ (A Side March 1973)
09 IGGY & THE STOOGES ‘ Gimme Danger’ (Raw Power LP May 1973)
10 NEW YORK DOLLS ‘Trash’ (A Side July 1973)
11 DAVID ESSEX ‘Rock On’ (A Side August 1973)
12 MUD ‘Dynamite’ (A Side October 1973)
13 JOBRIATH ‘I’Maman’ (Jobriath LP October 1973)
14 ALICE COOPER ‘Teenage Lament 74’ (Muscle Of Love LP December 1973)
15 ENO ‘Baby’s On Fire’ (Here Come The Warm Jets LP January 1974)
16 SUZI QUATRO ‘Devil Gate Drive’ (A Side February 1974)
17 MICK RONSON ‘Hey Ma Get Papa’ (Slaughter On 10th Avenue LP March 1974)
18 BRETT SMILEY ‘Va Va Va Voom’ (A Side May 1974)
19 SPARKS ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough’ (A Side May 1974)
20 COCKNEY REBEL ‘Tumbling Down’ (The Psychomodo LP June 1974)
21 QUEEN ‘Killer Queen’ (A Side October 1974)