INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
The Guardian FEBRUARY 1, 2013 - by Jon Savage
THE TWENTY BEST GLAM-ROCK SONGS OF ALL TIME
As a new exhibition celebrating one of the most outrageous and hedonistic eras in pop opens in Liverpool, Jon Savage picks his favourite tracks.
1 T.Rex: Hot Love July 1971 - Marc Bolan's third huge hit in a row, Number 1 for four weeks. His Top Of The Pops performance showed him going truly imperial, with Flying-V guitar, pink trousers, silver jacket and, prompted by his friend and colleague Chelita Secunda, glitter on his cheekbones.
2 David Bowie: Queen Bitch December 1971 - "There should be some real unabashed prostitution in this business," Bowie told Creem magazine in late 1971. He did his best to make it happen with this Velvet Underground tribute, saturated in homosexuality and Manhattan sleaze. Mick Ronson's guitar slices through everything.
3 Alice Cooper: School's Out April 1972 - From Detroit by way of LA, these hard rockers had been wearing makeup and frocks since 1969, so were well-suited to the glam imperative. School's Out was a definitive entrant in the teenage rampage stakes and scored hard with the kids, hitting Number 1 for three weeks in the summer holidays.
4 Roxy Music: Virginia Plain August 1972 - With Bryan Ferry's ultra-stylised performance and Eno's other wordly synth shrieks, this one definitely arrived from Planet Mars in the late summer of 1972. Chock-full of pop art and pop culture references, Virginia Plain was nothing less than a manifesto for a new age: "So me and you, just we two, got to search for something new."
5 Mott The Hoople: All The Young Dudes July 1972 - Bowie may have provided the raw material, but Mott gave the definitive performance of this generation-defining song, with its sneering reference to The Beatles and The Stones. The musicians curled and uncurled around Ian Hunter's snarling voice: "Oh is there concrete all around / Or is it in my head."
6 Lou Reed: Vicious November 1972 - Another Bowie production, and another career revival. Vicious begins Reed's second solo album in exactly the way that you would wish, with the poet laureate of Manhattan spitting out the Warhol inspired lyrics - "Vicious: you hit me with a flower" - while Mick Ronson, cutting through everything, embodies the song's threat.
7 David Bowie: The Jean Genie November 1972 - Bowie reached back to his '60s R&B days with this one, based on the old I'm A Man riff but updated with Ronson's buzzing guitar, burlesque rhythms, gay double entendres - his by-now patented patch. The band did a fantastic Top Of The Pops performance, recently rediscovered.
8 Slade: Cum On Feel The Noize February 1973 - This was their fourth Number 1 in eighteen months, which gave guitarist Dave Hill an excuse - as if he needed it - to wear ever more outrageous outfits on Top Of The Pops. An anthemic chorus and a lyric that's a direct invitation "to get wild, wild, wild".
9 Roxy Music: Editions Of You March 1973 - For Your Pleasure - with model and singer Amanda Lear on the cover - is one of the period's few coherent albums, and this 120mph rocker is one of its hidden pleasures: a camp-saturated male bonding song, featuring ooohs, sirens, and the immortal line, "boys will be boys will be boyoyoys".
10 Bonnie St Claire: Clap Your Hands And Stamp Your Feet May 1973 - With its stomping tunes and rock'n'roll roots, glam was huge on the continent - blending, as it would, into Europop - and this is a great entrant from Holland, featuring Beach-Boys' style backing vocals, terrace handclaps, and of course the ever-present Chuck Berry riffs.
11 T.Rex: 20th Century Boy May 1973 - It could have been any of the four Top 2 hits that T.Rex had in 1972 - particularly Metal Guru - but this was the toughest of them all: a furious rocker with a heroic riff that showed, plain for all to see, just how well Bolan understood the nature of pop fame - twentieth century toy, I wanna be your boy.
12 Iggy and the Stooges: Search And Destroy June 1973 - Iggy wore silver, the Stooges were produced by David Bowie, the record sounded glam - all treble tones and slicing guitar - but Search And Destroy, like its parent album Raw Power, went much further and deeper than hardly anyone wished in 1973. Three years later, it would find its time.
13 New York Dolls: Trash July 1973 - Simultaneously ludicrous and tough, sloppy and hard, vicious and tender - just listen to those soaring, girl-group harmonies - Trash was, along with Jet Boy, The Dolls' big pop move. It being 1973, of course, there could only have been one question: "Uh, how do you call your lover boy?" In the US, they didn't answer.
14 The Sweet: The Ballroom Blitz September 1973 - The Sweet were on a roll after Blockbuster and this may well be the archetypal glam song: teenage hysteria - check; camp interjections and beyond over the top TV costumes - check; a stomping beat, tough guitar riffs and a fey vocal - check. Unstoppable and still thrilling: the contrived becomes real.
15 Mud: Dyna-Mite October 1973 - Written by The Sweet Svengalis, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, Dyna-Mite stays firmly within the ballroom - glam's central location - during this relentless stomper. Mud yocked it up on Top Of The Pops with ludicrous flares and a spot of aceing - the biker's dance, shoulder to shoulder - and the future Sex Pistols were listening.
16 Suzi Quatro: Devil Gate Drive January 1974 - Quatro had gold-plated garage credentials - her first band, The Pleasure Seekers, had recorded What A Way To Die in 1966 - and this, her fourth hit (Number 1 for two weeks), mixes rock'n'roll with a hint of the Burundi beat, while continuing the explosive club/ballroom theme of the time with a hint of autobiography.
17 Sparks: This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us April 1974 - Sparks were the late great glam flash: tricky, artificial, super-hooky and high-concept, with a hard rocking band and definitive high gloss sleeves. They took a song with the lyric "you hear the thunder of stampeding rhinos, elephants and tacky tigers" all the way to Number 2, and made it seem natural.
18 David Bowie: Rebel Rebel US version, May 1974 - Bowie's goodbye to the youth movement he had helped to form - "You've got your mother in a whirl, because she's not sure whether you're a boy or a girl" - and his last Top 10 hit for eighteen months. This US mix has dreamy backwards harmonies, extra percussion and phased guitar.
19 Iron: Virgin Rebels Rule June 1974 - Almost all the great glam records were hits, but this is one of the best that wasn't: an abrasive slice of Sweetarama from a Scottish band, who toughened up the teenage-rampage meme while wearing Clockwork Orange-inspired costumes. The singer had a padlock on his crotch with the legend: "No Entry."
20 Sweet: The Sixteens July 1974 - A four-minute mini-opera on the theme of failed youth revolution, and a summer Top 10 hit, this shows the renamed group - having lost the definite article - rising to the song's complex structure with a totally convincing performance. The Sixteens is a classic of teen disillusionment, at the point of glam's supersession.
Glam! The Performance Of Style is at Tate Liverpool from February 8