The Story of Glam
With good old Rolf Harris and his ‘Two Little Boys’ taking us into the seventies you could be mistaken for thinking, musically, things didn’t bode well for the decade but you couldn’t have been more wrong. Time’s were a changing indeed, ”out” was the need for serious debate and the search for meanings in bizarre ‘out there’ lyrics and “in” were glitter, flares and huge platform shoes, perfect for stomping.
It was time to Rock ‘n’ Roll glam style.
The first of the big glam bands to lead the way was Marc Bolan’s T.Rex. Having had a few singles chart in the late 60’s he finally hit the big time with “Ride a White Swan” in October 1970. It’s secret was a distorted guitar accompanied by a high string section. Unbelievably the track never actually reached the top spot, being kept out by Clive Dunn’s Granddad. This was quickly followed in 1971 by two top charters and one number two, Get it on, Hot Love and Jeepster.
Glam Rock had arrived and it was banging it’s gong.
Meanwhile they weren’t having it all their own way, other bands were getting their act together and one particular one from Wolverhampton were going to add their own style to the proceedings. Armed with a charismatic lead singer with a real unique rocking voice they stormed the charts.
Slade were getting down and getting with it.
They were every teacher’s nightmare with their crazee song titles but us kids loved them. “Coz I luv you” went to the number one spot and stayed charted for 15 weeks.
They were a powerhouse of a band, with Noddy Holder, silver booted, wearing his tartan suits and amazing hats screaming out the lyrics, they were not to be denied, and denied they weren’t. There aren’t many who can claim ten consecutive top ten hits.
In 1972 Glam and Glitter hit the big time.
T.Rex had topped the charts with “Metal Guru”, Slade were enjoying the top spot with “Take me Bak ‘Ome” when out of nowhere came this silver clad figure singing an instrumental! Gary Glitter had taken the stage with his unique two drummer beat and made the sound his own. He took the stage like he owned it with his wild tribal chants, I can remember watching him on Top of the Pops totally mesmerized. The stomping ‘sound of glitter’ was born. He wasn’t the only one to shock either, David Bowie came into his own with Starman fully made up and wearing the loudest multi-coloured outfit I have ever seen, quickly followed by the great Alice Cooper, wearing more eye-shadow than Bett Lynch, telling us “School’s Out”. What an anthem for us kids and it was no surprise when it hit number one. While all this was happening there were other bands warming to the new movement. The Sweet were about to try to stake their claim to the throne as was Roy Wood’s Wizzard, and with leather clad Suzi Quatro undoubtably about to become the queen, who could blame the boys for trying.
What a year 1973 turned out to be. Glam had stomped it’s silver boots all over the charts right from the off with Wizzard kicking it off with ‘Ballpark Incident’ closely followed by The Sweet who had finally got their act together and released their best single ‘Blockbuster.’ This was soon followed up by Gazza’s ‘do you wanna touch?’ T.Rex were still getting the hits as were Slade and while they were still learning to spell more upstarts were trying to get in on the act. Suzi Quatro made her mark by borrowing the Glitter beat on two big hits “Can the Can” and “48 Crash,” Alvin Stardust was cooing his choo and Mud entered the arena with “Dyna-mite” which, incidentally, was apparently turned down by the Sweet. Not that they needed it, they were in full swing with hits like ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Ballroom Blitz’ Steve Priest could buy all the make-up he desired.David Essex was warming to the task with hits like ‘Rock On’ which had a cool sounding guitar riff and ‘Lamplight’.
There was a fine ding-ding of a battle going on for supremacy though. Gary Glitter pulled out all the stops with his entrance toTop of the Pops with his huge motorbike for ‘ I’m the Leader of the Gang,’ which paid off as it hit the top spot along with his follow up ballad ‘I love you love,’ which is a great glam party record. Gazza had two number 2’s and two number 1’s in 1973 and you would have thought that would have been enough to take the Glam mantle butSlade were still rocking and thanks to their Christmas release sealed their place in history. With ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ they finished the year with three number 1’s and one number 2.
The year certainly ended on an amazing high with Wizzard’s ‘I wish it could be christmas everyday’ reaching number 4, the two best christmas records songs ever recorded were in the charts together. Thinking about it, if you pick up a Christmas album I bet more than half of them are from the Glam era, what does that tell you?
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