Saturday, 11 February 2017

More of British Glam Rock

OK guys and dolls, here come some news that will bring joy to many, sadness to some, while most won't care one way or the other: this is the last day of our Glam Rock narrative. I intent to cover everyone that we've left out till now. Let's go!

We begin with the Queen of Glam, Suzi Quatro. Quatro was born of a father of Italian descent, a semi-professional musician and of a Hungarian mother, in Detroit, Michigan. She has three sisters and a brother. Her sister Arlene is the mother of actress Sherilyn Fenn. Her sister Patti was a member of Fanny, one of the earliest all-female Rock bands to gain national attention. Her brother, Michael Quatro, was also a musician.

Quatro moved to England in 1971, after being spotted by the record producer Mickie Most, who had by that time founded his own label, Rak Records. Most introduced her to the songwriting and production team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, (the songwriting duo behind The Sweet's biggest hits) who wrote songs specifically to accord with her image. Her image was that of a black-leather-clad no-nonsense rocker. Their first single together was Can The Can and in 1973 it hit the top in the UK, Germany, and Australia:

The next single was 48 Crash (Australia #1, Germany #2, UK #3):

Daytona Demon was a lesser hit (Germany #2, Australia #4, UK #14), but it was good:

Devil Gate Drive got her back to the top (in the UK, Australia, and Ireland), and to #2 in Germany:

Quatro is possibly best known in the United States for her role as the bass player Leather Tuscadero on the television show Happy Days, as well as for her 1979 duet with Chris Norman (of Smokie), Stumblin' In.

The biggest act in the UK singles chart for the first half of the 70s were Slade. The band members of Slade grew-up in the Black Country area of the West Midlands, UK: both the drummer Don Powell, and bass guitarist Jim Lea were born and raised in Wolverhampton, lead vocalist Noddy Holder was born and raised in the nearby town of Walsall, and lead guitarist Dave Hill was born in Devon and moved to Wolverhampton while a child.

While the band were recording their (unsuccessful) first album, they were visited by Animals' bassist, Chas Chandler. Chandler was impressed with what he heard in the studio, and after seeing the band live the following day, offered to manage them. As Chandler had previous managerial experience with Jimi Hendrix, the band accepted.

The band adopted a skinhead look as an attempt to gain publicity, but since Holder and Powell were particularly tough individuals already, the skinhead look exacerbated the disturbing effect of having "toughs" in the band. This did not lead them to success. This song describes their grievances with the music industry:

The band members grew their hair long and allied themselves to the Glam Rock movement of the early '70s. Just like that, success arrived: Coz I Luv You was a huge #1 hit:

The guys' music was Pub Rock with a glam glazing. They were not good-looking, not sophisticated, which meant that they appealed to the straight lads who followed football and who spent the weekend getting drunk in their local pub. Slade's music was rhythm-driven, their lyrics were straightforward and simple, even the deliberate misspelling of the songs' titles made them more relatable.

Their second #1 was Take Me Bak 'Ome:

Their third #1, Mama Weer All Crazee Now, was even bigger:

In early 1973, Cum on Feel the Noize was released and went straight to number one, the first time a single had done so since The Beatles' Get Back in 1969. On a personal note: Cum on Feel the Noize was at #1 the first time I decided to keep written records of the BBC Top 20 (no Internet then). I still have the notebooks.

The follow-up single Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me, again went straight to number one. Their Xmas single that year would also go straight to number one, making them the first act to achieve this feat.

I especially like the single's B-side, Kill 'Em At The Hot Club Tonite:

Slade then neglected their home country in an attempt to make it in the US, which caused their popularity to wane in the UK. They would occasionally have small hits, but their glory days were over.

Another big name at the time was Gary Glitter. Born Paul Francis Gadd in 1944, he took the stage name of Paul Raven at 15 and released his first single. He then worked with producer George Martin, before Martin's association with the Beatles, but that collaboration didn't yield any hits. It was with another associate of the Beatles, the man who arranged She's Leaving Home, arranger-producer Mike Leander, and a change of name to Gary Glitter that his career took off.

The song that made Gary Glitter's name began as a 15-minute jam; whittled down to a pair of three-minute extracts it was released as the A and B sides of a single called "Rock and Roll, Parts One and Two". Part Two proved to be the more popular side in many countries, although it took about six months before it made its full impact, going to number two on the British pop charts and reaching the Top Ten in the United States, one of the few British Glam Rock records to do so. Rock and Roll (Part One) was also a hit: in France it made number one, and in the UK both sides were listed together on the charts. Here's the more popular part Two:

He had two more #2s in short order: First, there was Do You Wanna Touch Me?, which was later a #20 US hit for Joan Jett.

... And Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again:

Then he went on to top the charts 3 times. First came I'm The Leader Of The Gang:

The follow-up, I Love You Love Me Love, entered the UK charts straight at #1:

He had another #1 with Always Yours in 1974, then a few more Top 10 hits that stopped coming circa mid 1975. Then, his fall from grace was dramatic. The late 1990s saw his image become irreparably tarnished, following his 1997 arrest and 1999 conviction in the United Kingdom for possession of thousands of items of child pornography. He was also charged, but acquitted, of sexual activity with an underage girl in the 1970s. Later, Glitter faced criminal charges and deportation from several countries including Vietnam and Cambodia connected with actual and suspected child sexual abuse, after a Vietnamese court found him guilty of obscene acts with minors in 2006. He had been living in Vietnam since deportation from Cambodia on suspected child sexual abuse charges in 2002. Glitter was deported from Vietnam back to Britain at the end of his sentence, where he was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

On 5 February 2015, he was found guilty of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault, and one of having sex with a girl under the age of 13 between 1975 and 1980. He was sentenced, to 16 years imprisonment.

During his peak his popularity was such, that even his backing band profited from it: They developed a parallel career with half a dozen UK Top 10 hits. Their first was Angel Face (1974, #4):

... And their biggest was Goodbye My Love (1975, #2):

The third most successful act to come from the Chapman-Chinn family after Sweet and Suzi Quatro were Mud: They were releasing (unsuccessful) singles since 1967, but their first Top 20 hit came at 1973; they reached #12 with Chinnichap's Crazy:

Their first Top 5 hit (at #4) was Dyna-mite:

Their first #1 (4 weeks at the top) was Tiger Feet:

As Glam Rock was fading, Mud jumped onto the 50s nostalgia bandwagon, and managed to prolong their hitmaking by a couple of years. They made #1 with Buddy Holly's Oh Boy:

The Sparks, brothers Ron & Russell Mael and company, were a great group anyway, but they too went a little glam with their first four hits. All are great. First was this #2 classic, This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us:

Then came Amateur Hour (#7 UK):

... Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth (#13 UK):

... And finally, Something For The Girl With Everything (#17 UK):

Alex Harvey (5 February 1935 – 4 February 1982) was a Scottish Blues/Rock musician. Although Harvey's career spanned almost three decades he is best remembered as the frontman of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, with whom he built a reputation as an exciting live performer during the era of Glam Rock in the 1970s.

From the SAHB's first album in 1972, here's The Hammer Song:

From their second album in 1973, here's Jacques Brel's Next:

Their take on Tom Jones' Delilah was a #7 UK hit in 1975:

Also in 1975, they did a cover of Tomorrow Belongs to Me (from the play/film Cabaret):

Be-Bop Deluxe's sound emerged as a mixture of Glam Rock, Prog Rock and straightforward Rock & Roll. Here's Axe Victim (1974):

Here's Maid in Heaven (1975):

And here's their biggest hit single, Ships in the Night (#23, 1976). Glam was gone, and this was mainstream Rock.

Except for Slade, there were two other Pub Rock acts who went Glam for a short while: first there were the Faces, a band whose members originated from the Small Faces and the Jeff Beck Group and included Rod Stewart, Ron Wood (a future Rolling Stone) and Kenney Jones (a future member of the Who). Stay With Me made #6 in the UK and #17 in the US.

Cindy Incidentally made #2 in the UK and #48 in the US.

Pool Hall Richard made #8 in the UK:

The line-up of Brinsley Schwarz included Nick Lowe on bass and vocals, and Ian Gomm on guitar and vocals. The influence of Glam Rock on them was pretty weak. Perhaps not fully adopting the "sound of the times" was the reason they didn't have any hits. Here they are with What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love And Understanding?:

The story of The Move is an interesting one. The Move (from Birmingham, England) were formed in December 1965, and had their first big hit, Night Of Fear (#2, UK) a year later:

In 1967, the hippy-philosophy-influenced Flowers in the Rain was also a #2 hit:

Blackberry Way was a bleak counterpoint to the sunny psychedelia of earlier recordings. It nevertheless became the band's most successful single, reaching number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1969. I think it was more than a little influenced by the Beatles in general and by Penny Lane in particular.

By 1970, 3/5s of the band had left. The only original members left were drummer Bev Bevan and co-lead vocalist, multi instrumentalist (guitar, keyboards, saxophone, flute, bass,) and main songwriter Roy Wood. They were joined by Jeff Lynne on guitar, piano, vocals. Do Ya was their last single in 1972, a UK-only issue:

Also in 1970, Wood, Lynne, and Bevan decided to create an offshoot of the Move, Electric Light Orchestra, which would accommodate Lynne's and Wood's desire to create modern Rock and Pop songs with classical overtones. Soon ELO managed to "swallow" the Move, which ceased to exist. In fact Do Ya is better known in most of the world from the ELO version, which was re-recorded in 1977 and became a hit in the US and Canada. Which one do you prefer?

The first ELO hit, 10538 Overture, a Top 10 hit in France and the UK, was their "glammiest":

Before the end of 1972, Roy Wood, dissatisfied with their manager, left the band to form Wizzard. Jeff Lynne stepped up and became the de facto leader, leading the band to global success with hits such as Can't Get It Out of My Head:

... Mr. Blue Sky:

The Beatles' influence is evident in both songs. Therefore it was no surprise that Jeff Lynne later joined George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty in the Traveling Wilburys supergroup.

Roy Wood's Wizzard, on the other hand, embraced a combination of Glam Rock and 50s Rock & Roll and had a short, but very successful career. Ball Park Incident was a #6 UK hit in 1972:

Then came See My Baby Jive, a huge #1 hit, spending four weeks at the top of the chart during May and June 1973.

The follow-up, Angel Fingers (A Teen Ballad), was also a #1 hit:

During 1973 Wood was simultaneously exploring a solo career with his album Boulders, which produced a Top 20 hit in Dear Elaine.

His follow-up, a Neil Sedaka tribute called Forever, was his biggest solo hit, peaking at #8:

David Essex was a sexy young man who had been making records since 1965, and also successfully appeared on stage (Godspell), and film (That'll Be The Day). It wasn't until he began working with producer Jeff Wayne however, that he achieved success in music. His first single with Wayne, the self-penned Rock On (1973), became an international hit (#3 UK, #5 US).

The follow-up, Lamplight, suffered commercially from being too similar to Rock On (#7 UK, #71 US).

Essex however managed to have two number ones in the UK. In 1974 came Gonna Make You A Star:

In 1975 came Hold Me Close:

Barry Blue (born Barry Ian Green, 1950) is an English singer, producer, and songwriter whose big hits were Glam Pop rather than Glam Rock. His first big hit, Dancin' On A Saturday Night (UK #2, Australia #3) was Greek-flavored.

His follow-up was Do You Wanna Dance? (UK #7):

Alvin Stardust was born Bernard William Jewry in 1942 and had a moderately successful career in the pre-Beatles era as Shane Fenton. His new name was given to him by Peter Shelley, the co-founder of Magnet Records. Shelley originated the persona of Alvin Stardust, writing, recording and singing the first Stardust single, My Coo Ca Choo, in 1973. Shelley, however, had no interest in performing live or making public appearances, so even as My Coo Ca Choo was climbing the charts, he was on the lookout for someone to take over the role of Alvin Stardust. Hal Carter, Jewry's manager, suggested his client as a substitute. Jewry took over as Stardust in time to lip-synch My Coo Ca Choo on its first Top Of The Pops appearance. The single peaked at #2.

Jealous Mind however was sung by Jewry himself and went all the way to the top of the charts.

A few more Top 20 hits followed. Red Dress (#7) was one of them:

The Arrows were formed in 1974 and were also a one of the acts that benefitted from Chapman-Chinn compositions. There were however late to the party, since 1974 was the last year in which Glam Rock still had some traction. Which meant that their first hit, Touch Too Much, was a sizeable hit (#8 UK).

... But subsequent singles failed to become hits: Like this one, from 1975...

... Which we all know from the Joan Jett & The Blackhearts version, a huge international #1 in the 80s.

Hello had been recording since 1972, but their first hit (#6 UK) came in 1974. It was a cover of The Exciters 1963 hit, Tell Him:

A year later they peaked at #9 with New York Groove, a Russ Ballard (of the band Argent) composition that was later covered by Ace Frehley of the band Kiss.

Our last song for today is an obscure single by British band Starbuck (nothing to do with the US band of Moonlight Feels Right fame). Do You Like Boys was a Bowie influenced song with a clear gay-related message. The members of the band were straight. The point is, any genre of music that made the gay look and sound not only tolerable, but I dare say desirable to straight audiences, is a genre of music worth dwelling on. That's all.


  1. I hope that you enjoyed today's story. I must say, I don't equally like all of the featured acts and their songs: some are outstanding, some are OK and some are meh. I needed to give the whole picture though. let me know which ones you prefer, so we can compare notes.

    On another subject, in a few weeks we'll have a series of stories on Disco and Dance music. What I want to ask of you, if I may, are personal suggestions, especially of lesser known Disco songs, that you believe have a gay connection or subtext, or have in any way been significant for the advancement of Gay Culture. Don't go for the obvious, Donna, Gloria, the Village People, etc, these will all be presented anyway. Go for the more obscure, but yet important songs. Once you mention them, they will be included in our narrative. Thank you all, and have a great weekend!

  2. All of this leaves me fairly cold. Is it fair to include ELO here? They strike me as being head and shoulders above the rest. But I will admit to one guilty pleasure--"Tiger Feet." And I will also admit to having a soft spot (probably in the head) for "Mama Weer All Crazy Now." As for disco, I was a reluctant fan. In fact, I ran a disco for a few years in the late '70s (when else?). As for obscure (more or less) acts, one name comes immediately to mind--Boz Scaggs--but I know nothing about his private life. However, the song "Lido Shuffle" was a big dancefloor hit, and a classy tune to boot! "Lowdown" was just as good. It was featured on the "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" soundtrack.

    1. Well, AFHI, the first ELO hit, 10538 Overture, certainly contains Glam Rock elements. Can't Get It Out of My Head and Mr. Blue Sky were included as indicative of ELO's golden era, I don't say they're Glam Rock. If anything, they are Beatle-esque. Plus they are great songs.

      Tiger Feet and Mama Weer All Crazy Now are songs that I love too. There are also others though.

      Bob Scaggs used to be a guitarist for the Steve Miller Band and I wouldn't call Lido Shuffle and Lowdown obscure, they were both Top 20 hits in the US as well as in the UK. I love them both, but I consider them more as Soft Rock rather than Disco. Still, if I discover a gay connection, I will include them. Thanks my friend!

    2. Scaggs also wrote "We're All Alone." 'Nuff said! I think of him as soft jazz, but he really was popular at the disco.

  3. I tend to think of Glam by another term - chant/rock. Loud, raucous sound punctuated by collective chanting of some form or another. It's really apparent with Gary Glitter. Not to say I don't find some of this enjoyable, again the aforementioned Glitter as well as a couple of the Slade tunes.
    As for your Disco request, here are a few off the top of my head. I'll offer up more as I think of them:

    Beautiful Bend - That's The Meaning/Boogie Motion. Classy disco in the Chic vein:

    Company B - Fascinated. This tune is simply, wait for it...fascinating!

    The Trammps - That's Where The Happy People Go. Magnificent kissing cousin to Marvin Gaye's similarly themed Got To Give It Up:

    Santa Esmeralda - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood. Wonderful Latin soaked disco:

    and the lesser known Gloria:

    Peter Brown - Dance With Me. Proof that all Disco is definitely not monotonous:

    Patrick Hernandez - Born To Be Alive. It's good to be alive!

    I'll bring up more as I think of them. Feel free to use these clips if you so desire.

    1. Hello RM! Chanting is certainly part of a number of Glam songs, certainly Gary Glitter, some of Slade, Sweet, Mud and Suzi Quatro (the Chinnichap trademark), Hot Love by T. Rex. Although my definition of Glam Rock would be: first the glittery clothes and makeup; musically, fat and slightly distorted guitars, prominent rhythm section and vocals with a touch of camp; the lyrics are mostly nonsensical and occasionally witty; and the overall effect is definitely sexual. If I were to pick the most typical Glam Rock songs I'd pick Bang A Gong by T. Rex and Jean Genie by David Bowie.

      Thanks for the Disco songs! I wasn't aware of Beautiful Bend and Company B. I know the rest. All will be included. By the way, although I love Born To Be Alive as a song, I think it has one of the most stupid titles ever; as if the rest of us are Born To Be Dead.

      Have a great week!

  4. Interesting J. I get what you mean but it never bothered me. I simply took it as meaning loving life and celebrating a desire to partake of all it offers instead of settling down like most people choose to do. You know, living a mundane, nine-to-five existence. You say potato....!