TOP TEN: Glam Artists
, September 14th, 2012 08:41
Delia Sparrow counts down her favourite glam artists, in a list with more glimmer than you could rotate a disco ball at
I like glam. But my boyfriend really likes glam. So I’ve heard a lot of glam... Some mornings I wake up because thud thud double thud – it’s the 2 Glitter Band drummers whacking tribal-shimmers out of their kits... or the cats are sent flying by the slithering shiny guitar triumphs of Sweet or Hector. So by osmosis – glamosis if you will be so cheesy - this is a top ten of the glam and glam-informed ("hey pop song! Did you hear that Gary Glitter track last week? How about adding some stomps & a ‘hey’ vocal breakdown to our fine ditty?")
*With tunes played into my ears and facts drummed into my head courtesy of Tim Purr.
Who could resist a mad producer from the Netherlands clad in black leather from his boots to the tippy-tops of his cat-eared mask? Clutching a little ceramic panther in his crazed paws... with lyrics promising “I am your Panther man – I’ll show you my paws... show you my CLAWS! I’M GONNA BITE YOU!” How can you resist his seductive snarl? Restless prowling guitars urge this feline performer onwards to a not very prolific output (3 singles I believe) but what furry greatness!
There are rules for glam. You can define glam by things like... how many drummers the band has, how the bands dress (How many stacks do those platform boots have, Horace?), is there a drums and vocals middle 8? Does it go ‘hey!’ (with the rest of the band going ‘hey’ back?) And so on. And some songs/performers are indefinably and magically glam. Bogdan is one of them. Apart from playing a dysfunctional teenager in ‘Please Sir’ he released odd stuttering pop classics such as ‘Butch Things’ and of course ‘Oh Eddie’ with lazily magnificent twangy guitar solo and lyrics about teachers being mean to you in school when you just want to be a rock’n’roller...
A classic name for a glam band! One word names were quite the rage in the early 70s – Hector, Ginger, Kipper, Catapult... - possibly because they’d look better on a badge in a great bubble font. Anyway, Dump - a strange little squat man, dumpy in fact - prances around in dungarees and scary yeti hair singing about the lovely Annabelle while their cross-dressing pianist vamps his way through the rock opera-esque classic-that-should-have-been.
This one was actually a hit (sorry junkshop purists). A concept group with songs about... sailing, and other nautical stuff! Playing with their Nickleodeon, a synth/piano/glockenspiel monster with a player on either side, and great harmonies this is one of my favourite songs. While I was looking for a good video to paste here I found out you can actually still book this band! Pop fact: a member of Sailor is married to one of Pan’s People! This is possibly why their new stage show includes dances choreographed by Dee Dee from Pan’s People.
Not my favourite band of the 70s (sorry...) but possibly the only one that had their mum in the band, giving hope to all ‘I’ll keep rocking til I’m dead’ rock mums and dads everywhere... ‘Mouldy Old Dough’ was their hit: a boogie-woogie instrumental with a penny whistle and featuring a gurning ma on second piano, while the band giggled their way through Top Of The Pops. Also known for releasing an album of train noises. Also known as Stavely Makepeace.
Sadly with a name now sullied by the not quite as good (ahem!) 80s pretenders, this fine bundle of chaps were led by the rough-hewn majesty of Dicken. A raggle-taggle muddle of chaps coming across like a bunch of Dickensian gangsters posing as choirboys – it’s a kind of low-rent but high-class take on 'Bohemian Rhapsody' with falsetto harmonies and glimmering majesty from a bricklayers' choir.
It’s good to dress up. And even those who get it wrong sometimes get it extremely right. Looking more like mutant super-heroes from another planet than pop stars, Chicory Tip had a hit with Giorgio Moroder’s 'Son Of My Father', with a rocking synth sound. Some of my favourite glam is synthy glam: the shock of the new with the stomp of the old. Like the cavemen in 2001 managed to break into the spaceship and make some tunes with HAL. I have to mention the dog connection here too: Chicory Tip sounded like The Association or Fifth Dimension until they found Giorgio’s 'Son Of My Father' and then they went all rocking synth-glam-tastic. That they also seem to have appropriated some of his dogs on record sleeves is good style (see above). This can only be a good thing.
Big collars, glitter, racks of synths, dance routines, rock poses, the flaxen locks of Rubberen Robbie their smiley singer. 'Let Your Hair Hang Down (Hey Gather Round!)' and 'Teeny Bopper Band' are both great pop songs with a classic ‘Nederglam’ (the Netherlands had so many glam bands they get their own sub-section!) beat. Also look out for Mabel (a Danish gang of Rod Stewart-a-likes) and Lemming (Dutch goth-tinged - yes, really - glam who often had a half-naked lady tempting the pouting singer).
Rock’n’roll, rock’n’roll, who loves rock’n’roll? Well actually the Rock’n’Roll Children do with big kiddy choirs and hand-clappy enthusiasm. And in the 70s they seemed to love kids in bands... The James Boys doing manic dance routines to bubblegum pop, Darren Burn singing choirboy stompy pop, but mostly Ricky Wilde (son of Marty, brother of Kim) singing Quatro-esque rock like 'Teen Wave' as well as my favourite, 'I Am An Astronaut'. Pop fact: Ricky’s dad Marty re-invented himself in the 70s, too, as a sort of glam bike superhero ‘Zappo’.
Sadly Kipper aren’t real. They were the musical stars of 70s sex (well – some short skirts and wobbly cleavages) comedy Confessions of A Pop Performer featuring the horribly unsexy Robin Askwith. Kipper were a leery, nasty bovver-boy boogie-glam monster fronted by glam-nightmare Nutter Normington. This band are so great they even have a fanclub. And as a glam farewell, sing-a-long-a ‘Do The Clapham’: “Find a partner that's half your size / Then thump 'er right between the eyes / And if you're bored and you want a larf / Kick a few members of the catering staff” .