Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Sunday Roast - Glam Rock Special!

So today, we ask what was the greatest ever Glam Rock Track. The three contenders are

1. Sweet - Blockbuster

2. David Bowie The Jean Genie

3. T Rex - 20th Century Boy

In our humble opinion, Sweet, Bowie and Bolan were the top of the pops when it came to glam. With all of these bands, there were any number of tracks we could have chosen, but we really wanted iconic TOTP videos to accompany the tracks. Perhaps another interesting topic of debate is that Blockbuster and The Jean Genie both have the same riff. Reviewing the discography, I was surprised to note that the Sweet only achieved one UK No 1 single, with Blockbuster, although Co Co, Hellraiser, Ballroom blitz, Teenage Rampage and Fox on the Run were number 2's. Their final UK top ten hit was "Love is like Oxygen", although this was a big departure from the rampaging pop of the earlier materials.Whilst many musical snobs derided Sweet as lightweight, due to their connections with songwriters Chinn and Chapman, they were icons of many in the Punk movement, with The Damned covering several of their tracks. I am eternally grateful to Captain Sensible and the boys for giving us permission to fess up to liking Sweet!

T Rex acheived four number ones, with Hot Love, Get It On, Telegram Sam and Metal Guru. In 1971/2, when I was first developing my musical identity, Bolan was the man. At primary school, we used to sing Telegram Sam whilst waiting for the 240 bus home. Even Pete Conways dad telling us that Marc Bolan had fleas did not deter us! I chose 20th Century Boy, even though it only reached no 3, for two reasons. It was one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar and secondly because I think it has aged far better than most of the others. It sounds as if it could have been released yeserday, rather than 43 years ago. Whenever I watch this video clip, I am reminded just how good Bolan was. Sadly Bolan stopped getting top ten hits in 1973. For me this is a travesty as he was far more creative and original than all the dross that was getting chart success.

Then there is Bowie. How many number ones Did Bowie have in his glam period in the 1970's? The answer may surprise you. He didn't achieve a single number one hit. Space Oddity was a number one, but this was in 1969, and not really in the Glam rock era. The Jean Genie got to number 2 and Drive in Saturday, Sorrow and Life on Mars made number 3. My personal favourite single from that period was Rebel Rebel, which made number 5. Reviewing Bowies discography, just illustrates what a strange bunch we, the record buying generation of the 70's really were.

So in terms of Glam chart hits, Bolan was the King, Sweet were the runners up and Bowie got the Bronze. Of course there's far more to it than that. Bowie was always more of an album artist than Bolan or Sweet, but that wasn't really what Glam was about for many of us, was it?  We wanted to sing the hits, whilst running around the bus stop!

1 comment:

Caroline Sarychkin said...

When I hear the phrase 'Glam Rock' I'm sorry but the vision in my minds eye Is (apologies) Gary Glitter. Due to his paedophile tendencies history has excised the Glitter Band from the pages of pop. The second band would be Slade - when 4 Brummie macho men can prance around in makeup and 6" platforms and nobody questions their sexuality you know you've got a real phenomenon. Sweet and Bolan were icons too but much prettier.
As I remember Bowie was way cooler than anyone else, he predated Glam so was always in a class of his own. Bolan died young so it was ok to admit to liking him too. Sadly he was gone before Glam really happened.
There is no way your teenage self would ever have admitted to liking Sweet, back then they were just a manufactured teenybopper bunch of wannabes forever tainted by the legacy of 'Little Willy'.
Also, what about Roxy Music? They made Glam cool.