Saturday 13 March 2021

The Saturday List #299 - My top ten '70's Glam Rock tunes

 So as we approach Saturday list no 300, we work our way through the genre's and the decades and we find ourselves in the first half of the 1970's. For me this was a time of guilty pleasures. My elder sisters had 'cool' tastes in music, the stuff that I liked and my friends liked was mostly viewed with disdain. It was the era of Glam Rock. One or two of the acts were deemed passable in our household, but by and large, to avoid total ridicule, I kept schtum. Once the Punk explosion arrived, I conveniently forgot all about my love of the music of the earlier part of the decade. Today I come clean. Here are my choices.

We start with The Jean Genie by Bowie. This was the first music single I bought (I had bought Henry the Green Engine narrated by Johnny Morris when I was six, but that was spoken word). Unusually and unsurprisingly Bowie was deemed cool in our house. I've never quite decided whether this track or Rebel Rebel were my favourite Bowie songs, but I do love this. I still have it and still play it. I loved everything about it.

Next up was Slade and Mama We're all Crazy now. When I first became aware of Slade, they were pretending to be Skinheads. They would deliberately mis spell the song names. I just loved the raucous energy of Slade, many of their songs would have made good Punk songs. I remember running around the Playground at St Vincents, singing this at the top of my voice. The first film I went to see on my own with my mates was Slade in Flame. We remember Slade mostly for that Xmas song, but in truth they were an awesome Rock and Roll band. I wish I'd seen them in their heyday, but none of the people I knew who were old enough to take me would be seen dead at a Slade Gig. 

Next up we have Blockbuster by Sweet. It shared a riff with The Jean Genie by Bowie. I never quite figured out why Bowie's song was cool and Sweet were totally disparaged in our house. I liked it. I remember listening to this at a disco at the Sacred Heart.  A moment etched in my mind forever, I was probably 12. Although in my house Sweet were seen as the epitome of naff, Punk legends, The Damned vindicated my view by covering Ballroom Blitz, I even remember seeing Lemmie join them on stage to play it. Bliss.

My next choice is perhaps the epitome of London glam, the Artful dodger himself, Marc Bolan and T Rex. Although Telegram Sam is not my favourite T Rex song, it is the one I have the most vivid memories of from the bus stop at St Vincents. A gaggle of scruffy kids all singing it. Pete Conways Dad told us all that Marc Bolan had fleas. For some reason, probably because we were only nine, we believed him, but it didn't put me off his music. I mentioned it to my Mum who informed me that it was most unlikely, as he was a pop star and could afford his own hairdresser. I was lucky, my mum always gave me sensible answers to such questions. She didn't let her musical tastes get in the way of the fact that she knew if she told me nonsense, sooner or later I'd realise and trust her less.

The next track is Can the Can by Suzi Quattro. I am not the only teenage boy who was completely blown away by Suzi Quattro. Again my sisters had much disdain for her, but I was so smitten that I really didn't care. Funnily enough my Sister worked for a while as a DJ on an Essex and interviewed Suzi who is a local. She said she was a right laugh and admitted I'd been right all the time about her.

I can recall Roxy Music appearing on Top of the Pops and being completely bemused by them. I didn't understand the music. Their glam look was just strange. One of my best mates brothers was a Roxy Music nut and tried very hard to persuade me they were wonderful, although I suspected his main interest was their album covers, which were the nearest thing to pornography allowed in Catholic households. I didn't get this at the time, but some time in late 1979, it came on the Jukebox in the Railway in West Hampstead and I realised it was a brilliant tune. I revisited Roxy and decided my mates brother was probably right.

David Essex was a Superstar. I think that when I was about thirteen, he was the boy my age wanted to be. What I liked about Essex was he had it all but he always seemed like he was a good bloke. I'm Gonna Make You a Star is a great track. Essex was perhaps the most effortlessly stylish of the Pop stars of that era.

My next choice are Sparks. This town aint big enough for the both of us was a real playground sensation at St Vincents. Sparks were so bonkers that we were fascinated. Mr Conway informed us that they were the offspring of Adolf Hitler and that they were German, which he imagined was an even worse insult. I can recall the follow up being so disappointing that myself and Pete Conway wrote to Sparks management and offered to write them some decent songs. We wrote a few examples. Pete got a letter back thanking us, but saying Ron and Russ like to write their own material. I would have framed it, but Pete threw it in the bin in disgust. 

Tiger Feet by Mud was a monster smash hit. This made me most happy as my Sister had been on Jukebox Jury and voted it a miss! I told her it was Brilliant and when it went to number one, made sure she knew what I thought of her judgement. Mind you, she got a free copy of Night Tripper by Dr John for appearing, so she wasn't too upset.

My final choice is Steve Harley's classic "Come up and make me smile". I loved Judy Teen by Harley and was actually rather disappointed the first time I heard this. It was a smash hit and after the third listen, I realised it was awesome. Other than Bowie's work, I don't think there is a better song from the Glam era. 

Those are my choices, what are yours?


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