Saturday, May 05, 2007

Saturday Night Glam Rock Blogging!

Noted rock philosopher David St. Hubbins once said that "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever." When one reconsiders the glam rock era, no truer words have ever been spoken. Indeed, they should be writ large as that era's epitaph. To me, the truly memorable and transcendent groups of the past 40 years such as the Sonics, the Ramones, and the Replacements achieved rock immortality by teetering along that knife-edge between stupidity and intellect with a beer in one hand and a guitar in the other. The best of the Glitter bands of the era between 1971-1974 followed a similar path.

Setting aside the art school pretentions of
Bowie and Roxy Music, the front-line foot soldiers of glam such as Slade, Sweet, and T-Rex all had a simple formula: lay down a huge, thumping beat, add some crunchy guitar and then tie it all together with a fist-pumping football cheer chorus. Toss in a handful of glitter and spray-paint the whole shebang candy apple red and presto, you have your silver-studded sabertooth dream band!

While the aforementioned groups had considerable commercial success in America in the mid-70s, my real fascination is with some of the more obscure bands of the era. One such fave rave is
Mud. While charting over a dozen top-ten hits in the UK between 1971-1975, they remain virtually unknown back here in the States. That's a shame because they epitomize all the qualities that make Glam so great: super pop hooks and a decidedly campy, let's-have-some-fun attitude.

While Mud had been around since the late 60's, things really started to happen for them when they were signed to Micky Most's RAK label in 1973. That move meant that the band would be supplied tunes by the hottest song writing team of the era Chinn-Chapman, who had penned numerous hits for Sweet and
Suzi Quatro. At the height of their career in 1974, the band had two number one hits in England with "Tiger Feet" in February, 1974 and "Lonely this Christmas" in December. That same year, they also had a number 2 with "The Cat Crept In" in May, followed by a number six with "Rocket" in August.

The featured video is their fantabulous single "Dyna-Mite," which was a tune rejected by Sweet that reached number 4 in December 1973. As you can see, Mud had the choreographed dance moves down well over 30 years before OK-GO achieved acclaim for their treadmill workout for
"Here it Goes Again." Also, the band's sartorial sense would probably have made Elton John blush with their day-glo Teddy Boy getups and guitarist Rob Davis' threads which simply defy any categorization.

The Glam era was hugely influential on the punk rock movement and great pop bands like
Jellyfish and Redd Kross would simply not have existed without this much-maligned, overlooked era.

Cheers! Mud Rocks!


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

if you weren't busy telling us that was Mud, it would be a dead-on great lost Sweet single,

Kid Charlemagne said...

Correction!! Rejected Sweet single.

Anonymous said...

Glam rock was always a nebulous category to me. Were any or all or the following "glam," or just glam fringe or glam-influenced?

David Bowie, T-Rex, Roxy Music, Elton John, Queen. Maybe the category was clearer in the UK but I could never sort things out


toppop100 said...

I agree that a lot of glam rock was very good, but I do not accept that the Sweet, Mud, and all the other artists you mention were really any good. All the glam rock artists who scored huge hits were, in my opinion, total crap, with the obvious exception of T. Rex.

There's a very good blog run by Robin Wills (guitarist from the English band The Barracudas) called purepop, and I found there that all the real treasures were one-off singles by studio-producer teams, overlooked B-sides and groups who split after having had a failure or two. Visiting that blog, I heard more glam rock/pop treasures in a few days that I heard when I actually lived through the period itself!

I even found the definitive 'Mott The Hoople' single there (in other words, the great record Mott The Hoople promised to make, but never actually did).

Check it out!

Anonymous said...

Lol at toppop.

Most glam rock bands were great. Silverhead, Slade, Sweet, Mud & Wizzard were all great. T. Rex had some good singles but othr than that were awful.