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Tuesday, 27 August 2019
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Son. The 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.
|The Pretenders||Deacon Blue||Diana Ross|