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!