Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Glam Rock Playlist




I was twelve in the spring of 1971 when Marc Bolan wore "glitter tears" on "Top Of The Pops" to sing "Hot Love". Glam rock started for me and many people with that wonderful single and Bolan's image. The sub-genre musically morphed from Bolan's hippy-style singalongs to something stronger, driven by a huge drum sound, lots of handclaps and raucous, instantly appealing choruses. At the start of all this tub-thumping, silly but glorious fun were the afore-mentioned T. Rex, skinheads turned stompers Slade, camp Sweet and the now never to be mentioned Gary Glitter. This was the commercial side of glam.

The serious side of glam saw David Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople, Alice Cooper, Elton John and Cockney Rebel among others going through a glam phase around the same time. Those years from 1971 to early 1974 were joyous years for me. Forget prog rock and its pretentions. This was what the early seventies were all about.

So, put on your platform shoes, round collared shirts and flares and enjoy a great singalong.


1. Hot Love - T. Rex
2. Take Me Bak 'Ome - Slade
3. Little Willy - Sweet
4. Rock 'n' Roll Part 2 - Gary Glitter
5. Jeepster - T. Rex
6. Wig Wam Bam - Sweet
7. Gudbuy T' Jane - Slade
8. Virginia Plain - Roxy Music
9. All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople
10. John, I'm Only Dancing - David Bowie                            
11. Mama Weer All Crazee Now - Slade
12. I Didn't Know I Loved You Till I Saw You Rock 'n' Roll - Gary Glitter
13. Blockbuster - Sweet
14. Get It On - T. Rex
15. School's Out - Alice Cooper
16. Personality Crisis - The New York Dolls
17. Can The Can - Suzi Quatro
18. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting - Elton John
19. Son Of My Father - Chicory Tip
20. Tiger Feet - Mud


  

21. Teenage Rampage - Sweet
22. Remember - The Bay City Rollers
23. Judy Teen - Cockney Rebel                                               
24. Honaloochie Boogie - Mott The Hoople
25. Hello Hello I'm Back Again - Gary Glitter
26. Angel Face - The Glitter Band
27. Elected - Alice Cooper
28. The Cat Crept In - Mud
29. 48 Crash - Suzi Quatro
30. Street Life - Roxy Music
31. The Jean Genie - David Bowie
32. Cum On Feel The Noize - Slade
33. Telegram Sam - T. Rex
34. See My Baby Jive - Wizzard
35. Shang-a-Lang - The Bay City Rollers                     
36. Tell Him - Hello


  

37. Goodbye My Love - The Glitter Band
38. Metal Guru - T. Rex
39. Skweeze Me Pleeze Me - Slade
40. Gonna Make You A Star - David Essex
41. Hey Rock 'n' Roll - Showaddywaddy
42. Sugar Baby Love - The Rubettes
43. Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
44. Roll Away The Stone - Mott The Hoople
45. Dancing On A Saturday Night - Barry Blue
46. The Groover - T. Rex
47. Crazy Horses - The Osmonds
48. This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - Sparks               
49. Angel Fingers - Wizzard
50. 20th Century Boy - T. Rex


  


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Ocean Colour Scene




Three albums from a sometimes unfairly-maligned band here....

Ocean Colour Scene (1992)
            
This was Ocean Colour Scene's debut album and one which found them not quite knowing what they wanted to be - a trippy, "Madchester"-influenced contemporary band, or a retrospective pysch-pop outfit with a few soul hints here and there. For that reason, it never really caught the public's attention, and the group seemingly went into cold storage for four years, until Paul Weller-Noel Gallagher resurrected them and they recorded the successful Moseley Shoals album. The group were always one to showcase their influences, but they also had a fair amount of creative innovation and originality, which makes this an interesting and beguiling album worthy of a listen.
                                         
Talk On is a very Small Faces-influenced number, updated with some bassy, substantial early nineties backing. How About You also taps in to a vague late sixties vibe with a bit of psychedelic hippiness about it. Giving It All Away is a rhythmic, infectious song, with another sixties-style vocal, with Stones airs. The drum sound is captivating, full of lusty punch. The lyrics are once more very sixties, psychedelia influenced. It has some excellent guitar-drum interplay near the end, with some floaty hippy backing vocals. 

Justine changes the pace with a very mid-sixties Rolling Stones-ish plaintive, lightly orchestrated acoustic ballad. Some pulsating wah-wah guitar introduces the robust Do Yourself A Favour. This is really good stuff, quite unusual for the time - contemporary yet retrospective. This was something quite difficult to achieve. I am surprised by just how good this track is. Check out that congas-bass interplay. It is a cover of a Stevie Wonder song from his 1971 Where I'm Coming From album.

Third Shade Of Green is a very late sixties psychedelic rock-style number, full of feedback-ish Hendrix guitar and reverb-drenched druggy vocals. It is one of the heaviest tracks the group ever did. 
Sway is driven along by a shuffling drum rhythm and some funky guitar. This is actually quite an inventive, original-sounding number. There are hints of U2 in there too. Penny Pinching Rainy Heaven Days is so sixties it could well be wearing a Paisley shirt. It is good, though, with a great bass line and staccato drum sound. Weird backing vocals, though. One Of Those Those Days is full of swirling, psychedelic guitars, intoxicating bass and odd sound effects. Is She Coming Home is another trippy one, with more circulating guitar and Ringo Starr drum rolls. 

Blue Deep Ocean ploughs the same furrow, with some Lennon-esque vocals and a bit of funky U2-ish guitar on there too. A bit of that old sixties Eastern thing as well. The drum sound is similar to the one often used by The Happy Mondays and Black Grape, that sort of thumping dance sound. As I said, it is an interesting album, but a bit of an odd one. The band themselves have apparently pretty much disowned it over the years.

Moseley Shoals (1996)

Ocean Colour Scene had, in 1996, been around for several years, releasing one eponymous album in 1992 and then being "rescued" in Bowie-Mott The Hoople fashion by Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher. Guitarist Steve Cradock went on to play with Weller for years (and still does) while bassist Damon Minchella also played with Weller on tour. Anyway, briefly, the group became the next big thing. They were a mix of sixties psych rock, freakbeat, folk rock and blues rock influences mixed with smatterings of soul and funk just here and there. They were very difficult to categorise, but the and something. They could certainly play, and they maximised their influences well, merging them with their own style to create something relatively unique. Weller, in fact, plays organ, guitar and piano at points throughout this album.

For some reason, however, it all went wrong and the music media turned on them, dragging a lot of the public along at the same time, so much so that people these days are somewhat embarrassed to admit to owning this album. This was/is unwarranted and unfair. This was/is a good album.
                          
The Riverboat Song has a catchy introductory riff and some solid guitar. It settles down into a safe enough chugger, but is not quite as remarkable a track as many seem to think it is. It is ok, though, with a sixties-influenced vocal. Hints of late sixties psychedelic rock lurk beneath the surface. There is some excellent wah-wah guitar soloing from Steve Cradock on here, it has to be said. The Day We Caught The Train has a few shameless I Am The Walrus snatches in it, along with hints of Ronnie LaneThe Small Faces and The Strawbs at their rockiest. It is very derivative, I have to say, but actually pretty enjoyable despite that. The Circle has a very Brit Pop guitar riff heralding it in. It is a catchy number with another Ronnie Lane-sounding vocal from vocalist Simon Fowler. A good track, this one with a really good bit of guitar near the end.

Lining Your Pockets is a slow ballad with a bit of George Harrison about it, for me. Fleeting Mind is a dreamy, floaty Nick Drake-inspired song, but with a more solid slow rock backing. There are echoes of Led Zeppelin III in there too, just a bit. Again, it is an intriguing, impressive track. There are Weller influences in there too, which in turn were Traffic ones, particularly on the guitar interjections and drum sound. 
40 Past Midnight is a solid piece of soul-influenced rock in a sort of early-mid-seventies Don't Shoot Me Elton John style. There are also lots of Stones influences all over it in its slow blues sound and Fowler's Jagger-esque vocal. I am thinking of The Stones from the Goats Head Soup era. For me there is something post 2000s Springsteen meets The Hothouse Flowers about the very appealing One For The Road. It is one of the album's best tracks. Yes, it wears its influences on its sleeve, but it also has a fair amount of originality

The plaintive It's My Shadow is very McCartney-esque with more George Harrison vibes too. When it breaks out into the chorus it is big, full and powerful as well. The band could rock pulsatingly when they wanted to. Policemen & Pirates has a big chunky and slightly punky riff, but also some vaguely prog-rock bits and a late sixties-early seventies feel. Once again, it is eclectic, but strangely original. I am at a loss in trying to pigeonhole it. The Downstream could be a Stones late sixties-early seventies ballad, both vocally and musically. Check out that keyboard bit. Lots of Wild Horses on the vocal too. You've Got It Bad has a choppy riff, a lively, aggressive beat and some psych-y feedback reverberating around. A bit of post punk guitar in there too. It is very freakbeat. A drum solo at the end as well. The album ends with the folky, plaintive Get Away, which breaks out from its acoustic beginning into an extremely Paul Weller-esque number, in a Foot Of The Mountain-Shadow Of The Sun sort of way. More drum soloing near the end before the Weller guitar returns. This album has been unfairly maligned over the passing of time. Time for a re-assessment. It's a good one.

Marchin' Already (1997)
               
This was Ocean Colour Scene's third album, and probably the last one they got away with before the music media and the the public turned on them as they did with other bands like Sleeper. Even more so with Ocean Colour Scene, I was at a loss to understand what they did wrong. Their albums, and particularly this one, are quirkily appealing creations, full of all sorts of influences and a myriad of styles. They were instrumentally extremely competent and inventive and their albums are always worth several listens. There is so much beneath the surface. What there also is, sometimes, is, despite a deep bass sound, is a bit of tinniness in the production.
             
Hundred Mile City kicks off the album off with a magnificently vibrant, frenetic piece of psychedelic riffy rock. It is packed with all sorts of freaky sounds, man. There is something of Thin Lizzy to it. Better Day is a George Harrison-esque slow rock ballad with a lovely bass line and that late sixties Beatles influence all over it. Singer Simon Fowler had that somewhat (comparatively) weak, reedy voice that Harrison had. It also (predictably) has some strong Paul Weller influences in there too. There is also a progginess to it that reminds me of Supertramp, would you believe. Travellers Tune is a lively piece of acoustic and electric rock with a Ronnie Lane feel to it. Big Star is an attractive quite slow number with some infectious percussion and another sumptuous bass line. The vocal is one of those popular in the late nineties. Del Amitri had a similar-sounding vocalist.

Debris Road has bassist Damon Minchella on top form once again. There is a real seventies vibe about it. Besides Yourself is a plaintive, mainly acoustic ballad with more Harrison-Beatles influence. Get Blown Away has lots of sixties psychedelic vibes to it, more Beatles and maybe even a bit of early Bowie. Ocean Colour Scene were definitely very derivative but they knew how to use their influences well.

The strangely-titled Tele He's Not Talking is another dreamy pice of late sixties rock stuff given a powerful nineties makeover. It has a nice piece of sharp acoustic guitar soloing in the middle. Foxy's Folk Faced is a short, unsurprisingly, folky piece of fun. All Up is a delicious piece of jazzy, funked-up piano-driven instrumental, sort of Traffic meets The Style Council. I love this. Spark And Cindy is an acoustic-driven but muscular number that reminds me, again, of Supertramp, instrumentally. 
The big acoustic intro sounds like Supertramp's Give A Little Bit. Half A Dream Away is similarly quirky and dreamily hippy in many ways. 
It's A Beautiful Thing is a soulful ballad featuring the classic sixties voice of P. P. Arnold sharing vocal leads with Fowler. Overall this is an album that is very difficult to categorise, so varied are its sounds and influences. It merits several listens before you start to get it, so to speak.

Inextricably linked with OCS is Paul Weller :-




Texas




I was never quite sure how to categorise Texas. They actually came on to the scene in 1989, before Brit Pop, yet they were sort of indie/Brit Pop-ish. They fitted that bill - charismatic, ballsy female lead singer (Sharleen Spiteri) and some faceless blokes backing her (actually Johnny McElhone had been in new wave/post punk band Altered Images). Their music was rock-ish (certainly on their first three albums), with some soul/Motown and blues influences but also a guitar-driven indie post punky feel to them....

Southside (1989) 

This was their most "rock" album and it is still probably my favourite. Incidentally, quite why a Scottish band called themselves Texas is unclear.
               
I Don't Want A Lover starts with some low-key bluesy slide guitar, before a bass line arrives and it breaks out into a solid, singalong bluesy rock song. It was the group's first big hit and still often gets played many years later. Spiteri's voice is strong and the acoustic guitars are razor sharp. I am sure KT Tunstall was influenced by this. Also, the piano bit near the end is very Deacon Blue. Unfortunately, the album has not been remastered so the sound isn't as punchy as it might be. Musically, though, it is a refreshingly "proper" album, with real drums, not programmed or synthy.

Tell Me Why is a muscular, confident number driven along by some powerful drums. Spiteri's voice sounds like someone else but I can't put my finger (or ear) on who it is. It's annoying when that happens. 
Everyday Now is a slow burning, soulful rock number with hints of Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders about it. It is also slightly hijacks the refrain from Bob Dylan and The Band's I Shall Be Released in the "everyday now"/("any day now") line. It is a good track, this one. Nice blues harmonica solo too. Southside is a magnificent, bluesy offering, full of Chris Rea-esque slide guitar. Proper blues rock. One of the best tracks on the album. Even though it is a short instrumental! If only it were longer. It is unnecessarily cut short.

Prayer For You
 has another Hynde-influenced vocal from Spiteri on a lively acoustic and slide backed number. The guitar interjections are excellent. 
The quality continues on the brooding blues of Faith with its slight gospel influences. The diversity in the music on here is impressive, particularly for a debut. Thrill Has Gone is a catchy, upbeat country rocker with slight vibes of Mary Chapin Carpenter in the melody, vocal delivery and structure. 

Fight For The Feeling and Fool For Love are both very appealing, guitar-driven mid-pace rock songs. The latter a bit Fleetwood Mac-esque. You can't go too far wrong with stuff like this. One Choice has a huge drum rhythm backing a sharp, acoustic riff. Once again, this is a powerful, strident and captivating number. Future Is Promises does what many albums do and ends with a slower pace, reflective, bluesy and wistful number. Overall, I have to say that this was a very impressive first offering for a largely unheralded, but credible group.

Mothers Heaven (1991)

This Is Texas as I preferred them - bluesy and rocking in traditional fashion. No drum machines or contemporary stylings on here as would appear on later albums (
White On Blonde and beyond). There are quite a lot of Delta Blues influences, with excellent slide guitar from Ally McErlaine, while singer Sharleen Spiteri's voice is deep, low in pitch and soulful. This is a proper rock album, and a really good one at that. I like it a lot.
                                
Mothers Heaven is a big, crashing piece of blues-influenced rock, full of pounding drums, chunky riffs, funky clavinet and vibrant piano. Sharleen Spiteri’s vocal is strong enough to cope with the song’s power. Why Believe In You is influenced by U2’s dabbling in Americana with a bit of The Hothouse Flowers in there. The organ bits and the bluesy slide guitar are excellent, as is the brooding, shuffling beat. Check out that slide guitar solo half way through. The piano rocks throughout the song too, wonderfully well.

Dream Hotel
 is an evocative, slow burning and seductive number, with more of those Americana influences bubbling beneath the surfaces in the shape of subtle, jangling guitars. Once more, there is quite a bit of U2 floating around in this, and Deacon Blue. This Will All Be Mine has a moody, Southern swamp blues intro and a mysterious, deep vocal. It is packed full of atmosphere. I am surprised that this album did not get more critical praise than it did. It slipped under the radar somewhat. Beliefs is a muscular piece of buzzy guitar rock, with a dark ambience and sonorous vocal. 
Alone With You is a chunky, gospel-influenced soul song, with big choruses and twangy slide guitar over a metronomic, robust drum beat. 

In My Heart has a huge, lusty drum sound and a rise in its pace to its chorus, very much in a U2 style. You could almost imagine Bono singing this over Larry Mullen's powerhouse drums. Waiting is a short song in a similar style that, unfortunately, ends before it gets going. Wrapped In Clothes Of Blue is an atmospheric, slow burning number featuring some darkly grandiose guitar backing and a powerful vocal. 

Return is an excellent, slide guitar-driven shuffling blues. Walk The Dust is a low-key, sensual once more U2-ish closer. It surprisingly bursts into life half way through and ends this impressive album on a big anthemic note.

Rick's Road (1993)

Rick's Road was Texas's third album, and it has received a certain amount of criticism from various reviewers I have read, comparing it unfavourably to the two following albums, both of which were huge sellers. These people have had problems with the fact that it is a blues rock album and not a commercially-oriented poppy one, whereas for me it is the exact opposite - it is powerful, rocking and full of quality blues guitar, drums and harmonica. This, as far as I am concerned, is Texas at their best, before they went all programmed drums, and "contemporary" pop soul sounds.

Sharleen Spiteri's vocals display her full range - from gritty and bluesy to surprisingly flexible and high-pitched. The girl could sing the blues, there is no doubt about that, and her performance on this album puts me in mind of subsequent female bluesers like Susan Tedeschi and Grace Potter.


White On Blonde (1997)


This is where Texas went from being a blues rock, slightly "cult" band to being a blue-eyed soul-pop one before our very ears, utilising contemporary dance beats, programmed drums, synthesised strings, artificial scratching noises and the like. as far as I am concerned, despite being full of really catchy and melodic songs (just as the previous album was), something was lost due to the muffled, dense and murky sound that was delivered in order to satisfy the tastes of Radio Two chart-oriented listeners. The difference in clarity (negatively) between this and the previous offering was seismic. 


I just cannot get on with the sound on this one at all. Even on the faux Motown-Northern Soul of the "earworm" singalong hit single, Black Eyed Boy, there is an overall muddiness that detracts from it. Those synthesised strings sound awful. The same accusation can be levelled at the album's other big hits, Say What You Want and the scratchy White On Blonde.


It is a shame, as far as I am concerned, because there are some fine songs on here, they are just blighted by a sound and production that is just not to my taste. I have always been a "real instruments" man. Those thumping programmed drums just don't do it for me, I'm afraid. Sharleen' s voice has no bluesy grit to it anymore, either, just slick, soulful female chart pop tones. She has changed her method of vocal delivery completely, for the worse in my opinion.


The Hush (1999)


Now, I have laid my criticisms on thick over the sound of the previous album, backing-wise but there is an improvement here. Although the group use the same contemporary sounds as on the previous outing, there is a crisper, clearer production to the sound that renders it more appealing to me.


The tracks are all good ones too, especially the Black Eyed Boy re-write of When We Are Together (although this does suffer from the same muffled production), the Diana Ross-sounding Day After Day and two other great singles in In Our Lifetime and Summer SonThe Hush is probably the track that best exemplifies Texas's sound in this period. 


There is also quite a lot of hints of later era Deacon Blue on this album's sound, which, if you have read my reviews of those albums, you will know I do not necessarily think is a good thing. It's about the production there too. 


Related posts :-
The Pretenders
Deacon Blue
Diana Ross