Tumbling Down: A Glam Rock Retrospective, Part 2, 1974-1976
This profile continues from Part One in reviewing the history of glam rock and its influence on modern rock. If you are already listening from part one, carry on! If you’re starting anew, click below to listen to the playlist on the streaming service of your choice. Note that all of parts one and two are included in a single playlist. This profile begins with the 36th song in the playlist.
Needle in the Camel’s Eye \ Brian Eno (1974) – Brian Eno is one of the biggest contributors to the start and growth of modern rock. As a member of Roxy Music, as a performer, and as a producer and engineer he has had a hand in many of the most influential recordings of rock history and has influenced countless artists, especially in the new wave and electronic/experimental genres.
The Playlist - Part 2
Brian Eno - Needle in the Camel’s Eye
Mick Ronson - Only After Dark
T. Rex - Teenage Dream
Kiss - Firehouse
Mud - The Cat Crept In
New York Dolls - Chatterbox
Cockney Rebel - Tumbling Down
Lou Reed - Ride Sally Ride
Pilot - Magic
Suzi Quatro - Too Big
Slade - Far Far Away
Brian Eno - Third Uncle
Hush - C'mon We're Taking Over
Sparks - At Home at Work at Play
John Howard - Goodbye Suzie
Bonnie St. Claire & Unit Gloria - The Rock Goes On
Brett Smiley - Space Ace
Iron Virgin - Rebels Rule
Milk n Cookies - Typically Teenage
Showaddywaddy - Hey Rock and Roll
Zolar X - Space Age Love
Mick Ronson - Hazy Days
Smokie - Pass It Around
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)
The Rubettes - I Can Do It
Ian Hunter - Once Bitten, Twice Shy
The Tubes - White Punks on Dope
Be Bop Deluxe - Sister Seagull
Brian Eno - I'll Come Running
Roxy Music - Love Is the Drug
Doctors of Madness - B-Movie Bedtime
Sailor - A Glass of Champagne
Fox - Imagine Me Imagine You
Lemming - Queen Jacula
Magnus Uggla - John Silver
Showaddywaddy - Sweet Music
Skyhooks - Ego Is Not A Dirty Word
Sweeney Todd - Roxy Roller
Lou Reed - Charley's Girl
T. Rex - Chrome Sitar
The Tubes - Don't Touch Me There
Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together
Supernaut - Living A Lie
Heavy Metal Kids - Hey Little Girl
Hello - Teenage Revolution
Kenny - Be My Girl
Slik - Requiem
Wayne County & The Backstreet Boys - Max's Kansas City
In 1973 he left Roxy Music after their second album due to differences with lead singer Bryan Ferry and a desire to get away from the rock routine. His solo career began with the January 1974 release of the seminal album, Here Come the Warm Jets. Working with a large contingent of musical guests that included Robert Fripp of prog rock band, King Crimson, he accumulated and re-worked their contributions into a fascinating mix of early synth-rock, and retro-pop melodies and harmonies. It wasn’t an album to stomp your feet or chant along, it wasn’t full of solos or self-indulgence, it was something to sit down to hear, become absorbed, and enter into a new world of possibilities. The album was one of the most original and experimental glam records and had a huge influence on the generation of artists about to embark into the music world over the next few years, creating modern rock.
Only After Dark \ Mick Ronson (1974) – After his success as a member of Bowie’s Spiders from Mars band and assisting with the rise of Mott the Hoople and Lou Reed, Mick Ronson was ready to try his hand at a little solo work, and not surprisingly it was excellent. The album, Slaughter on 10th Avenue, was a mix of cover songs and tunes written by, and with, Bowie. It was solidly in the glam musical style, full of drama, blues riffs, and songs featuring twists and turns and Ronson’s usually great guitar and piano work. “Only After Dark” was a great album track with an addictive rhythm and Mick’s vocal mixing the Bowie/Ferry style with the common glam falsetto. The album reached #9 in the UK while the singles did not chart.
Teenage Dream \ T. Rex (1974) – The fifth T. Rex album in as many years was released in February. Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow was recorded by an expanded line-up with only Bolan and Mickey Finn remaining from the prior LPs’ line-up. The album mixed their catchy glam rock with varied sounds and rhythms, bearing some resemblance to the psychedelic rock of their earlier incarnation, Tyrannosaurus Rex. For fans of T. Rex it was harder to warm up to, though still had a couple good tunes consistent with their sound like “Sound Pit” and the album’s only single, “Teenage Dream.” That song is one of my favourite glam tunes and the strings and soul singers delivering the chorus mixed with the T. Rex rock sound was exquisite. The album peaked at #12, being the first T. Rex release to not crack the UK top ten. The band had been dropped by its US label, so the album wasn’t released there. The apparent waning of glam’s biggest act was an omen for the genre itself.
Firehouse \ Kiss (1974) – I was not a Kiss fan growing up, but I had more than a few friends who were really into them, so between them and Kiss’ success it was hard to avoid the band that was best known for their make-up and costumes, and thus have to be discussed in a glam retrospective. Their influence would be more on the rock and heavy metal worlds, helping launch the glam-metal genre that would deliver many hugely successful acts over the next decade and beyond.
Formed over 1972 and ’73, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley pursued a harder, more aggressive form of rock than their predecessor acts, which worked well with their looks as they donned the make-up and outfits from the start. Unlike acts like New York Dolls or The Stooges, their harder sound was smoother, delivering layered guitars and harmonies for power on pop melodies, and featuring solos and more expressive vocals. It was the early blueprint that diverged from the harder sounding modern rock acts.
Kiss’ self-titled, debut album was released in February 1974 and reached #87 in the US but didn’t chart in the UK. Three singles didn’t do much either, with only “Kissin’ Time” cracking the top 100 in the US. “Firehouse” was a solid song that captured the band’s early sound, showing the foundation was there for the huge success that would follow, being just about the only glam era act to enjoy continued and bigger success after the initial glam wave died down. Their first big hit was “Rock and Roll All Nite” in 1975 (the live version reached #12 on the singles chart) and later, “Beth” in 1976 (#7). It would take until the album Love Gun in 1977 to reach the top ten on the albums chart. They didn’t catch on in the UK until the 1980s, finally cracking the top ten with the album, Lick It Up, in 1983, which was famous for being the first album to present the band without their make-up and costumes, and also the first with new singer and guitarist, Vinnie Vincent, who replaced Ace Frehley.
The Cat Crept In \ Mud (1974) – Starting back in ’66, Mud released several unsuccessful singles before signing to Mickie Most’s Rak Records, adopted the glam style, and being one of several bands to model their sound after the ‘50s pop style, started to have charting singles. It also didn’t hurt their music was being written by prolific songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who had been churning out the hits for The Sweet. In 1974 Mud had their first #1 single, “Tiger Feet,” followed by a #2 single, “The Cat Crept In,” both from the debut album, Mud Rock. They went to #1 again at Christmas with “Lonely this Christmas,” joining Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” and Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” as glam’s contributions to the Christmas music canon. Mud released seven albums up to 1979, though like many others weren’t as successful once glam ebbed away. The band migrated to disco in the end before the original line-up broke up. Different iterations of the band have continued on after a partial reformation in the ‘80s.
Chatterbox \ New York Dolls (1974) – The New York Dolls released their second album the year following their first. It did less well and led to the band being dropped from its label. The band continued to play around New York while self-destructing between drugs and creative differences. Malcolm McLaren became their manager and toned down their glam look, putting them in red leather outfits. They played in the clubs and among the bands that would form the punk and modern rock movement in New York but otherwise did not manage to issue another record (other than subsequent releases of demos and live shows). They broke up at the end of 1976. Nolan and Thunders went on to play in The Heartbreakers before Thunders went solo, while Johansen went on to an unlikely and, briefly, highly successful run under the name, Buster Poindexter. Seizing the same energy and outrageousness of his Dolls performances, he played a mix of jazz and calypso and had a hit in 1987 with “Hot Hot Hot,” a cover of a 1982 soca song by Arrow. Johansen has also been known as much for his acting, perhaps best known as the Ghost of Christmas Past in the movie, Scrooged.
The 1974 second album, presciently titled Too Much Too Soon, drew on ‘60s pop styles and was largely a listless collection of songs, lacking any of the jump and personality of a song like “Personality Crisis.” It wasn’t a bad album, but it was not surprising why the band never broke through. However, their influence was irrefutable, as the raw guitar sound and garage rock style directly influenced the artists that emerged over the coming few years.
Though not directly connected to these bands I have always associated The Rocky Horror Picture Show to The Sweet’s “The Ballroom Blitz” and David Johansen from New York Dolls. As someone from a later generation that usually only gave a passing sweep over these things, I always thought of “The Time Warp” as being kin to “The Ballroom Blitz” and the character, Dr. Frank N. Furter, and actor Tim Curry for that matter, as being similar to Johansen. Rocky Horror did start in the theatre in 1973 before coming out as a movie in 1975, and its connection to the glam sound was irrefutable, though the premise and driving creative inspiration for the movie were older, B-movie horror films.
Another movie that showed glam was making its way into other art forms and that came out in 1974 was Phantom of the Paradise. A musical film loosely based on The Phantom of the Opera and starring the very non-glam Paul Williams, it featured costumed shows, ‘50s inspired pop-rock, and theatrical and glam performances. It didn’t fare very well but became a bit of a cult hit.
Tumbling Down \ Cockney Rebel (1974) – This band was formed in 1972 by Steve Harley and John Crocker and then made into a 5-piece; and for a glam act was notable in not having a guitarist, instead relying on Crocker’s electric violin and Milton Reame-Jame’s piano as lead instruments. After a debut album that didn’t chart followed by a non-album single, “Judy Teen,” that scored them a top 10 hit, they released the album, The Psychomodo. It was a great album, fitting easily into the glam sound and full of hooks, interesting arrangements, and Harley’s emotive vocals. The Psychomodo reached #8 in the UK charts and the single, “Mr. Soft,” gave Cockney Rebel a second top ten single.
I was brought to this album through two separate and much later references. The first was from the 1998 movie set within the 1970’s glam scene, Velvet Goldmine, which featured a great soundtrack of glam cover songs and originals. Several of the songs on this playlist are selected due to the influence of this hard-to-find soundtrack, which I had to mail-order in 1999 to obtain. The movie closed with a performance by actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the lead character, Brian Slade, singing “Tumbling Down” and doing a very fine job of it. Also, while recently writing a profile for little-known Scottish punk band Scars, I discovered a 1980 cover of “Psychomodo” among their discography, just another of many modern rock examples of the glam influence.
Ride Sally Ride \ Lou Reed (1974) – We move into the second half of 1974 with Lou Reed’s album, Sally Can’t Dance. It was two LP’s after Transformer and his most successfully charting album ever in the US, reaching #10 in the album chart. In the UK it dropped to #44 after the prior album, Berlin, had reached #7. Perhaps this was due to it being the first album to get clear of his Velvet Underground writing, being recorded in the US after having been based in the UK for the prior three albums, and introducing more R&B and soul into his sound and likely distancing him from his core audience.
Magic \ Pilot (1974) – As glam grew in popularity and influence, even if just based predominantly in the UK, it spread into the mainstream and pop-oriented variants began to appear. Less outrageous in style and dress, usually opting for bright colours, long hair, and maybe some theatrical touches, bands put a catchier, less edgy spin on the deeper, glam sound. Enter Pilot, a Scottish act that spun off former members of the hugely successful Bay City Rollers. Their second single was “Magic,” a glam-pop single published by famed producer Alan Parsons that reached #11 in the UK, #5 in the US, and #1 in my own country, Canada, which explains why I’m so familiar with this song from my childhood. They released their first LP in 1975 and had a #1 single in the UK, “January.” After a few further minor hits the band broke up in 1978, with three of the members continuing their participation in their producer’s The Alan Parsons Project.
Too Big \ Suzi Quatro (1974) – Still our only female on this list, Suzi released her second album in the fall of ’74, Quatro, continuing to blend her rough, rock vocal and bass work into a loose and jazzy rock sound. Though less dependent on their contributions, Chinn and Chapman continued to provide many of the singles and produced the album, while the rest of the album came from a variety of writers with Suzi only co-writing three songs. “Too Big” was the lead single and followed on the heels of her second UK #1 single, “Devil Gate Drive,” a non-album single issued earlier in ’74 (though included in international releases of the album). Quatro has continued her recording career off and on up to current day, and though she hasn’t had any significant chart success since the ‘70s her legacy as a female rocker is significant. She also is known for her small, recurring role (seven episodes) in the TV show, Happy Days, playing musician Leather Tuscadero over two seasons in 1977-78 and in which her on-screen band was known as Leather and the Suedes.
Far Far Away \ Slade (1974) – Slade continued to be a leading glam act over 1974, enjoying three singles hitting the top ten, the third of which was “Far Far Away.” It was consistent with the band’s upbeat, catchy, singalong style. The song also accompanied the release of a movie starring the band, Slade in Flame, a fictional account of a ‘60s band’s rise and fall and based on Slade’s own experience. As glam died off over the next couple of years, so did Slade’s position at the top of the charts. As noted in their earlier entry on this playlist, they had a fleeting return in the ‘80s with the single, “Run Run Away,” but otherwise weren’t able to have a lot of success, finally breaking up in 1992. Slade is noted by many modern rock artists as an influence.
Third Uncle \ Brian Eno (1974) – After starting the year with his landmark, first solo album, Eno returned to end the year with his second, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), another fantastically creative and intriguing album that critics hailed but failed to grab audiences despite it being a very accessible album for the artist. Eno was never an artist to release singles (there have been very few over the years), instead focusing on the full composition of the album. It’s from this album that came “Third Uncle,” better known to modern rock fans for the excellent cover by goth-rock band, Bauhaus, on their album, Sky’s Gone Out (the second time we’ve noted them covering a glam act). It is further influence of Eno’s influence on later artists.
C'mon We're Taking Over \ Hush (1974) – We’ve noted UK glam bands that had done well in Australia, but now we get to an Australian act that showed glam had its time there too. The band never charted outside its homeland but did manage to reach the top forty with three singles and five albums between 1973 and 1977. “C’mon We’re Taking Over” was the title track from their third album, released in December 1974. Their sound had a Meat Loaf-meets-AC/DC style, opting for the bigger rock sound of the time.
At Home at Work at Play \ Sparks (1974) – Sparks’ output has been prolific. After issuing their first two albums in ’72 they did the same in ’74 on their way to issuing fifteen albums over a seventeen year span. After 1988 they’ve slowed up, only putting out eight albums over the past thirty years. Propaganda was their fourth album and the second release of 1974. It reached #9 in the UK and #63 in the US, making it their second best in the UK (the prior album, Kimono My House, hit #4) and best result in the US.
Spark’s eccentric and creative sound was a springboard to their adaption when glam fell away, first recording a synth-driven, new wave-disco record with Georgio Moroder in 1979, No. 1 in Heaven, that included the song, “Beat the Clock.” They would blend pop with new wave in 1982 on the album, Angst in My Pants, which had the minor hit, “I Predict.” And so went their career, with album after album of quirky and ever-broadening styles for the band, peppered with the occasional minor hits. Sparks has been a minor, yet influential and ever-present, contributor to the evolution of modern rock and it all started with a glam career as US ex-pats making a go in the UK.
Goodbye Suzie \ John Howard (1974) – There were not a lot of solo artists in the glam world, and in many cases when there were, they were artists known from being in another band (e.g. Reed, Ferry, Eno, Ronson). On this list we’ll only see eleven artists out of 58 that were solo acts start to finish. John Howard was one, launching his career with the album Kid in A Big World, released in December of 1974. The lead single was “Goodbye Suzie,” a nicely arranged song on piano underpinning Howard’s solid vocal, harmonized to the usual glam effect. He followed the album with two more in 1975 and then wouldn’t issue another until 1996, only putting out five singles between 1978 and 1984 before moving into an A&R role in the music business. He would return to recording in the ‘90s and 2000s but never experienced any notable degree of success.
The Rock Goes On \ Bonnie St. Claire & Unit Gloria (1974) – Reflecting the peak of the glam era in 1974, naturally there were many other minor acts toiling within the shadows of the more successful artists, revealing how deep and talented the genre had become, including in other areas of the world. Bonnie St. Claire was a Dutch singer that had several hits in Europe over the early ‘70s. For many years she used Unit Gloria as her backing band, an act that had put out songs on its own before joining with St. Claire. This band was another rare instance of a female lead, but also highlighted why glam wasn’t usually considered glam when it came to women - their dressing up wasn’t unusual or controversial. If it wasn’t for the male band being glam, she probably wouldn’t get categorized as such. Bonnie and Unit Gloria had three top ten hits in the Dutch Top 40 between 1972 and 1974 before Bonnie continued on with her solo career, often pairing with other artists to record steadily through the ‘90s as well as a few releases post-millennium.
Space Ace \ Brett Smiley 1974 – Smiley was another transplanted American that pursued a glam career in the UK. He also acted on stage as a child, having played the lead in Oliver! on Broadway, and would later appear in the soft-core musical, Cinderella (1977). At the young age of sixteen, Brett was taken on by The Rolling Stone’s manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. He recorded a solid glam album, Breathlessly Brett, and issued a single, “Va Va Va Voom” which got him some attention and built a little hype. Full of promise and big expectations, Smiley and Oldham toured around and negotiated with labels while Smiley descended into the world of drugs. Eventually the window passed as glam faded and Smiley and Oldham parted ways without ever issuing the LP. It wasn’t released until 2004 and Brett passed away in 2016.
Rebels Rule \ Iron Virgin (1974) – Another Scottish band that pushed the glam look with their outrageous outfits. They released a couple singles in ‘72 and ’74, including the title track from their album, Rebel’s Rule. They were never able to break through, but did influence The Runaways, one of the progenitors of the modern rock era.
Typically Teenage \ Milk ‘n’ Cookies (1974) – This was another of the infrequent American glam bands and their sound was more pop-oriented. Hailing from Long Island, New York, the locale of another glam band that would, eventually, find success, Twisted Sister, Milk ‘n’ Cookies’ run only lasted a few years and produced one album. Their energetic sound hinted at a potential for a punk career as the New York scene developed, and the band played at CBGB’s, but their image just didn’t fit and they called it quits in ’77 when their founder, Ian North, moved to England to pursue a solo career.
Hey Rock and Roll \ Showaddywaddy (1974) – This band used the Teddy Boy look (think suits and leopard print) to accompany their glam sound. They were formed from two bands and as a result ended up with two of everything: drummers, bassists, guitarists, singers. I’m not sure where the hard to pronounce name originated and I’m a little surprised it didn’t hold the band back. The band’s self-titled debut LP (to add to that pain) reached #9 in the UK to become their first of three top tens over the decade. The single, “Hey Rock and Roll,” reached #2 in the UK singles chart.
Space Age Love \ Zolar X (1974) – The year for this song is estimated since it was recorded as a demo somewhere around that time, but the song and album were never released until 1982. This Los Angeles band dressed as aliens, spoke their own language, were regulars in the early ‘70s Los Angeles club scene, and appeared with many of the artists from this list when they came through Tinseltown. Despite not being a recording success, they received a lot of attention in the LA area and did much to promote the idea of glam in that American locale.
By the end of 1974 glam was still a dominant look and sound in UK rock and had sporadic and fleeting success internationally, and as a result was experiencing the natural effects of that success. An oft-repeated pattern emerged where the styles of a new genre started to be appropriated by mainstream and pop acts, or the acts themselves moved in new directions and the sound started to schism. Therefore, as we move from 1974 into 1975, we will find a greater variety of sounds and even more lesser-known acts. Also, not surprisingly, the established glam artists started to tone down their looks as I’m sure many looked around and decided it was all fun, but a bit silly; and whatever point they’d wanted to make had been made. Also, the wider adoption of costumes and make-up by artists across all musical genres made the core glam acts less distinct and confrontational, and as some of the looks moved from the sublime to the ridiculous, a natural backlash developed; a key aspect to the advent of modern rock.
Hazy Days \ Mick Ronson (1975) – Ronson’s second album, Play Don’t Worry, was released in January 1975 and went to #29 in the UK albums chart. “Hazy Days” was the only song on the album that wasn’t a cover. It was his last solo album until 1994’s Heaven and Hull, released a year after his death from liver cancer. Over the rest of the ‘70s and the ‘80s he went back to playing and/or producing with other artists including Ian Hunter, Ellen Foley, John Cougar, Bob Dylan, and Canadian acts The Payolas and Dalbello.
Pass It Around \ Smokie (1975) – This was an example of glam jumping the shark, as Smokie was a band that had been around since the late ‘60s (as ‘Smokey’ until Smokey Robinson threatened legal action) but with the help of hitmakers Chinn-Chapman started having hits with their second album in 1976, Changing All the Time, and the singles, “If You Think You Know How to Love Me” and “Don’t Play Your Rock ‘n’ Roll to Me.” Their crowd-friendly harmonizing and shouted choruses made for fun and boisterous shows. The band would enjoy a fair amount of success over the remainder of the decade, including with a 1977 cult hit singalong song, “Living Next Door to Alice” (the crowd would shout, “Alice, who the fuck is Alice?”). “Pass It Around” was the title track to their debut album. Their sound had a glam foundation but was more classic rock in its vibe mixed a strong pop-rock sensibility with its melodies and harmonies. The sound lacked the edge of the earlier glam and was an example of how the genre was losing its creative essence.
Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) \ Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (1975) – This is one of my favourite glam songs, and like many others was introduced to me via the Velvet Goldmine movie. By the end of 1974 Cockney Rebel had devolved to just Steve Harley, who had driven the rest of the band away. Therefore, with the release in March 1975 of The Best Years of Our Lives the act would be known as Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. Undaunted, his penchant for writing good tunes carried through with “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” going to #1 in the UK and the album reached #4. The release was helped with Alan Parsons’ production. The song had all the great characteristics of glam rock, a solid melody, a thick rhythm foundation, dramatic flairs with the backing vocals and flamenco flavoured guitar interlude, and Harley’s accented, understated vocals. It was just missing a little falsetto to complete the package. It was a stellar song that, more than many others from that time, holds up quite nicely today.
I Can Do It \ The Rubettes (1975) – Similar to Smokie, the chanting melodies and old time rock n’ pop style came through on this, channelling the Alvin Stardust sound. We Can Do It was the band’s second album, issued just four months after their debut in December 1974. “I Can Do It” reached #7 in the UK chart for their third top ten hit. They’d scored a #1 in 1974 with the single, “Sugar Baby Love.” The Rubettes would lose the glam look within a couple years but struggled to shake their doo-wop image, never able to equal their early success again.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy \ Ian Hunter (1975) – The Mott the Hoople singer released his first solo album in 1975 and had a #14 hit with this song that deserved a better result. Co-produced with Mick Ronson it was a good album that continued the Mott’s glam groove. Hunter went on to release many solo LPs over his career, continuing to this day. He hasn’t had hit singles, but his albums have been generally well-received.
White Punks on Dope \ The Tubes (1975) – A short synopsis on this band makes it difficult to do them justice, so colourful was this band’s story. A rare US glam band, they emerged out of San Francisco in 1975 as one of the most theatrical and outlandish of rock acts. Their heavy, raw rock sound would help introduce modern rock but their looks and behaviour would keep them from ever breaking through as a more successful act. Led by Fee Waybill (John Waldo) and Bill Spooner, the band was like a travelling Rocky Horror show, including performances by model/actress Re Styles. Waybill performed in huge platform boots and often with a dildo sticking out of his shorts, portraying the character ‘Quay Lewd.’ “White Punks on Dope” was a seminal glam-punk song later refashioned by German singer Nina Hagen for her band’s debut album.
Sister Seagull \ Be Bop Deluxe (1975) – This UK band has always been hard to categorize, drawing on glam, prog rock, classic rock, and later shifting into pre-new wave sounds (I also included them in my retrospective on new wave music). Bill Nelson formed the band in 1972 and it was always a variation of line-ups around him. He would drop the band name and go solo for most of the rest of his career after 1978. “Sister Seagull” was from the second album, Futurama, which had a minor UK hit, “Maid in Heaven.” I’ve always loved Nelson’s sound and Be Bop Deluxe is a favourite of mine from this era, branching from the glam sound into a more experimental, sleeker, stylized version that made a path for new wave.
I'll Come Running \ Brian Eno (1975) – Ex-Roxy Music member Brian Eno continued his creative mastery over the glam sound with his third album in September 1975, Another Green World. He released a purely experimental follow-up in November that year and has released LPs regularly ever since. “I’ll Come Running” is consummate Eno, capturing his smooth vocal style over a seemingly simple sounding but complexly built R&B structure. It sampled the great feel of his records when he ventured to more accessible compositions. After this LP, most of his music would skew to the electronic and avant garde, preferring more instrumental and atmospheric compositions. He would also rise as one of the leading producers in the modern rock world, guiding Bowie through his Berlin period and later bringing U2 from promising young rockers to world-conquering stars.
Love Is the Drug \ Roxy Music (1975) – Roxy was exiting its glam period but still rocking with fantastic songs like this one. Their fifth album, Siren, continued their run of top ten UK albums (only Stranded in 1973 had gone to #1 to that point, though the LPs Flesh + Blood and Avalon would also do so in their later and final period). “Love is the Drug” was a #2 single in the UK, their best charting single to date, and even cracked the top forty in the US (and #3 in Canada). After a break from 1976-78 the band returned to issue three final albums between 1979 and 1982, all featuring a shift in sound to a more refined, new wave and blues sound. It made Roxy Music one of the only acts to transition from glam to modern rock and be a leading act in the formation of both genres, making them one of the most important rock acts ever.
B-Movie Bedtime \ Doctors of Madness (1975) – Doctors of Madness were led by Richard Strange and were a band whose sound helped spur the transition from the classic-rock style of glam into a more progressive, punkier sound. They were a London band formed in 1974 that released three albums from 1975 to ‘77. They weren’t a band that sold many records but would help launch modern rock by having supporting acts like The Sex Pistols, The Jam, and Warsaw (later Joy Division) during their career.
A Glass of Champagne \ Sailor (1975) – A British band formed around singer-songwriter Georg Kajanus, “A Glass of Champagne” was a #2 single in the UK in 1975, followed by a #7 hit, “Girls Girls Girls.” The band released five albums between 1974-78 with only the 1975 LP, Trouble, charting at #45. This was a good example of glam-pop, which continued to popularize glam within more mainstream sounds.
Imagine Me Imagine You \ Fox (1975) – A curious act that was led by American songwriter Kenny Young, featured Australian, Noosha Fox (Susan Traynor), on vocals, but that came out of England (of course). Fox was a rare female presence in glam – just the second female to appear on this list along with Suzie Quatro – who styled herseld after Marlene Dietrich. Young was a prolific songwriter going back to the early ‘60s and with an anthology of songs that included “Under the Boardwalk” for The Drifters in 1964. Fox released three albums, with two in 1975 and another in 1977. They had two top-ten UK singles, “Only You Can” (#3) and “S-S-S-Single Bed” (#4) while “Imagine Me, Imagine You” peaked at #15. Again, the pop style came through very strongly in this song.
Queen Jacula \ Lemming (1975) – This was a Dutch band (also known as The Lemming) that existed from 1973 to 1982 and that has reformed since 2002. They had a theatrical show that included monsters, strippers, coffins, smoke bombs, and explosives. Their early songs like “Lucifera” and “Queen Jacula” were drawn from horror and sex themed adult comic books, giving the band a macabre element. In 1975 their singles and some new material were released on their debut, self-titled album. The band’s early success wasn’t maintained as glam fell out of favour and the band continued with their performance style. Lemming likely came the closest to following Alice Cooper’s style of glam.
John Silver \ Magnus Uggla (1975) – Sweden is known for its pop stalwarts and a fascination with heavy metal (death metal, in particular), but in the early ‘70s it was not unlike other western nations in developing its rock scene, including a little dose of glam. Magnus Uggla is a multi-faceted artist that got his start as a proto-metal and then glam artist. Om Bobbo Viking was his first, and very good, album. He had a great voice and the music was right of the glam playbook. The first track, “Hallå" (Hello), drew from Ziggy era Bowie while “Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution” sounded like a Mott the Hoople song (Uggla was compared by critics to Ian Hunter). “Flens Rock” had a Roxy Music edge to it. “John Silver” displayed a clever use of rhythm and even an early rap style, with a piano sound that would not be out of place in the upcoming new wave sound (Plastic Bertrand would later cover one of Uggla’s songs). Magnus left the glam style after his second album and recorded punk and hard music in the late ‘70s, enjoying some success in his home country. He is still going today along with acting and radio work, and has released seventeen albums, with his most recent being issued in 2011.
Sweet Music \ Showaddywaddy (1975) – This band continued its success with its second album, Step Two. Their retro sound mixed with the thick production of glam and heavy use of harmonies seemed an undeniable formula to UK audiences. Three of their albums and ten singles (many of them covers of ‘50s and ‘60s songs) between 1974 and 1979 reached the top ten. “Sweet Music” wasn’t one of them, peaking at #15, but it revealed their rocking sound more than their other, more successful singles. The band continues to tour to this day.
Ego Is Not A Dirty Word \ Skyhooks (1975) – Back to Australia, this band from Melbourne addressed a variety of contentious topics in their music and were a hit from the start. They released five albums from 1974 through to 1980, four of which cracked the top ten in Australia and with the first two both going to #1 on the albums chart. They also had five top ten hits including two #1 singles. “Ego Is Not A Dirty Word” was the title track from their second album and reached #2 in the Australian singles chart. Their 1975 tour of Australia featured supporting acts AC/DC and Split Enz. Hoping their huge success after their first two albums would translate to the US, they toured America in 1976 but didn’t catch on, being compared unfavourably to Kiss due to their appearance, though there wasn’t much to compare between the two acts’ music.
Roxy Roller \ Sweeney Todd (1975) – Similar to the US, glam in Canada didn’t take off to the degree it did in the UK, which was a little surprising given British music usually does well in Canada. Sweeney Todd was the one success to break through with their #1 hit in Canada, “Roxy Roller.” Originating out of Vancouver, the band was led by Nick Gilder. Despite their success Gilder left the band for a solo career, going on to record the smash hit, “Hot Child in the City” in 1978. Sweeney Todd recorded a second album with a fifteen year-old Bryan Adams on vocals and guitar, but it didn’t fly like the first album. Adams, of course, also left for a solo career and would become one of the most successful Canadian singers of the next two decades.
Charley's Girl \ Lou Reed (1975) – In 1975 Lou Reed released the album, Metal Machine Music, a double album of white noise and feedback that over time has been equally lauded and loathed. His experimentation and penchant for doing his own thing continued to set him as an outcast in the music industry, but grudgingly appreciated by critics and fans, especially when he returned to his rock sound with his fifth album, Coney Island Baby. Released in the US in December 1975 and the UK in January 1976 it, like other big artists of the glam scene, was a progression away from the glam sound to other styles of rock. Perhaps suffering backlash from the inaccessible prior release, the album didn’t chart as well as his prior LPs. “Charley’s Girl” was the lead single and failed to chart in the US or the UK. Regardless, it was a strong album and closed off Reed’s light flirtation with the glam sound and look. He would never be a big seller but as noted continued to garner appreciation and respect throughout his career up to his passing in 2013.
Chrome Sitar \ T. Rex (1976) – Marc Bolan continued to carry the T. Rex name, releasing the albums Bolan’s Zip Gun in 1974 and Futuristic Dragon in January of 1976. The two singles for the latter album were released in 1975, but to me “Chrome Sitar” (the B-side to the lead single, “New York City”) was the monumental track from the album and a fantastic distillation of everything that was great about the T. Rex sound. The album somewhat returned the band back to their earlier sound but it’s #50 placing on the UK chart showed how glam was falling out of favour with rock fans. There would be one more album in 1977 and a few more singles before Bolan’s untimely death in a car accident in September that year. Bolan’s passing was like a symbolic end to the original glam era, forever cementing T. Rex as its biggest act, frozen in time.
Don't Touch Me There \ The Tubes (1976) – The Tubes released their second album, Young and Rich, a year after their first. It peaked at #46 in the US. The band wouldn’t chart an LP in the UK until 1979’s Remote Control. The suggestive single, “Don’t Touch Me There,” a duet between Fee Waybill and Re Styles, harkened back to the Phil Spector wall-of-sound style of the ‘60s (it was arranged by Jack Nitzsche, who worked with Spector and later played piano on legendary albums by The Rolling Stones and Neil Young). The Tubes continued with their outlandish ways backed by their solid glam rock tunes that on this album were smoother and less jarring than what had been seen on their first album, especially “White Punks on Dope” which would be released as a single in the UK in 1977 and go to #28 in the UK singles chart. The new album had some of the ‘70s corporate rock sound that mixed strings, R&B and jazz elements, but then at times hinted at the new wave sounds to come. It was an interesting album.
The Tubes continued on through the ‘70s with their renowned, lewd, and elaborate stage shows. The music was getting more serious but the performances were not. They were financial distress with their label by the end of the ‘70s due to their expensive tours. They switched labels and toned down their look, switching abruptly to a pop sound, enjoying their greatest success with songs like, “Talk to Ya Later” and “She’s A Beauty,” which reached the top ten in the US in 1983 (it’s hard to believe this was the same band). Fee Waybill left the band in 1986 and returned in 1993, enjoying some solo success along the way. The Tubes have now released nine albums.
Let's Stick Together \ Bryan Ferry (1976) – After his solo debut in 1973 the Roxy Music singer issued a second solo album of covers in 1974. In 1976 Roxy Music broke up and Ferry issued the album, Let’s Stick Together. It was a collection of remakes of Roxy songs, more covers, and all had been previously released as singles, B-sides or on an EP. The early glam edge of Roxy was smoothed over with R&B melodies and rhythms, giving sign to the pivot Ferry would take Roxy when they reformed in 1978. “Let’s Stick Together” was a cover of a 1962 song by Wilbert Harrison, carried by a great horns sound and funky rhythm, and one last blast from Ferry of his glam-styled vocals. The album didn’t do as well in the UK as his prior two, top ten LPs, peaking at #19, but it cracked the top 200 in the US, starting his ascension to greater success in America. The single gave him his second top ten in the UK and a #1 hit in Australia. He released two more albums in 1977 and ’78 before concentrating on Roxy Music through the early ‘80s. He came back permanently as a solo artist with 1985’s album, Boys and Girls, and continued his stellar contributions to the modern rock world, still releasing albums and touring.
Living A Lie \ Supernaut (1976) – Back to Australia, and this band from Perth were formed by brothers Joe and Chris Burnham in 1974 and named themselves after the 1972 Black Sabbath song. Relocating to Melbourne in 1976 they were signed to Polydor after being noted by Paul McCartney. Their self-titled debut album was led by the single, “I Like It Both Ways,” which encountered resistance from Australian radio due to the song’s theme. Regardless, the song reached #16 on the singles chart, soon outdone by the second single, “Too Hot to Touch,” which reached #14. The album peaked at #13 on the Australian album chart (Kent Music Report). “Living A Lie” was the album’s opening track and captured the band’s classic, glam rock style. After releasing a few less successful singles over 1977-78 while working on the next album it became clear glam was not the path to continued success due to the genre’s waning audience, and the album was abandoned. The band shifted to a punk and new wave sound for its next album in late 1979, The Nauts. Neither the album or single charted and they disbanded in 1980.
Hey Little Girl \ Heavy Metal Kids (1976) – This British band was formed in 1972 and released three albums between 1974 and 1976 amidst several line-up changes, leaving singer Gary Holton as the original member. They broke up in 1978 with Holton going on to perform with The Damned and act in several movies including The Who’s Quadrophenia. He passed away in 1985. In 2002, two of the early members re-teamed with a new line-up and released an album in 2003. They continue to tour occasionally to this day. The band’s sound was true to the glam rock sound and was pretty catchy, however they were never able to establish any commercial success. Their aggressive sound was a pre-cursor to punk and they often performed with punk pioneers The Adverts. “Hey Little Girl” was the B-side to their 1976 single, “She’s No Angel,” which appeared on their third LP, Kitsch, produced by glam stalwart producer and record label owner, Mickie Most.
Teenage Revolution \ Hello (1976) – We first visited this band on this playlist back in 1972, when they had issued their first singles. They had better success in 1974 and 1975 with top ten UK singles, “Tell Him” and “New York Groove.” It took until 1976 for the first album, Keep Us Off the Streets, to be issued. It included the singles from 1974 through early 1976 along with new songs, including a new single, “Teenage Revolution.” Another album was released in 1978 but with glam out of favour and the band never being able to mount sustained success, they folded in 1979.
Be My Girl \ Kenny (1976) – This band had an intriguing story, starting with a side project by Irish showband singer Tony Kenny. Performing under the name Kenny, produced by Mickie Most, and the songs written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter (who also wrote for The Bay City Rollers), Tony Kenny had hits in 1973 with “Heart of Stone” and “Give It to Me Now.” With Tony returning to his career Mickie Most had a London band called Chuff rebranded as Kenny and Martin and Coulter continued to provide songs. Chuff therefore stepped into instant success, releasing albums in 1975 and 1976 (in Germany only) and had three top ten UK singles during 1974-75. “Be My Girl” was on the 1976 album, Ricochet, and displayed the bands glam-pop sound, with a retro ‘60s sound.
Requiem \ Slik (1976) – This was a Scottish band out of Glasgow, formed out of an early band called Salvation. In 1974 they became Slik and, like Kenny, worked with songwriters Bill Martin and Phil Coulter. They also adopted baseball shirts for their look. They scored a #1 hit in 1976 with “Forever and Ever,” a glam-pop song heavy on harmonies with doses of prog rock. Their only album was a self-titled release that same year, and “Requiem” was the second single from it, reaching #24 in the UK chart. The album only reached #58. Like many other late glam acts, the band switched to punk as PVC2 in 1977. The band is notable for having Jim ‘Midge’ Ure on guitar, who left PVC2 in ’77 to form The Rich Kids. Modern rock fans will, of course, know him best for eventually forming the seminal new wave bands Visage and then Ultravox.
Max's Kansas City \ Wayne County & The Backstreet Boys (1976) – This is the perfect song to finish our list as it was the perfect combination of glam and the new, edgier rock sound that would form the new punk scene in New York. Georgia-born Wayne Rogers was a notable transvestite performer and activist in New York (he participated in the Stonewall riots) and a participant in Andy Warhol’s Factory scene. Performing under the name Wayne County, taken from Detroit’s county in tribute to the early rockers he admired like Iggy Pop and MC5, he starred in Warhol movies and played in garage rock and proto-punk bands through the early ‘70s. In 1974 he formed Wayne County and The Backstreet Boys, which recorded songs as part of a promo album for their main venue, Max’s Kansas City, where Wayne also worked as a DJ. This was the first released work of his career and the song named for the club would become one of his best known songs. With its references to the many up-and-coming acts of the New York rock scene that played and hung out there (Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls, Blondie, Dee Dee Ramone, The Heartbreakers), it was a great capsule of the times. There are several versions of the song from Wayne and his later acts, but the original was the most rocking and straddled the glam and punk worlds.
Wayne and band member Greg Van Cook moved to London in 1976 and started a new band, The Electric Chairs, that included contributions from Jools Holland. The band toured England and Europe extensively and released three albums over 1978 and 1979 before disbanding. They achieved some success with the song, “Fuck Off,” that included the empowering lyric, “If you don’t want to fuck me, just fuck off.”
Wayne starred as a transvestite rock star in Derek Jarman’s 1978 film, Jubilee, that featured many glam and emerging punk and post-punk stars like Brian Eno, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Adam Ant, and notable punk fashion pioneer and model, Jordan. Wayne started identifying as Jayne County in 1979 and began taking hormones to undergo a sex change, sponsored by her label, Safari. However, when she broke with the label she didn’t complete the procedure and has identified since as transgendered, making her one of the earliest and most notable artists to identify as such. The transition of her appearance is notable over the three Electric Chairs album covers, with the second album featuring both masculine and feminine pictures of Jayne.
She has performed solo and with various bands over the years, now back in the US, does art and photography, and issued an autobiography in 1995, Man Enough to Be A Woman (also the name of the second Electric Chairs LP). While never being commercially successful with her music, she was at the centre of the birth of modern rock in New York and London and can rightfully claim to have been an early contributor to both the glam and punk genres.
In the current era of digital recording, auto-tune, keyboard and computer embellishments, and the thinner, manufactured sounds of most of today’s music genres, listening to the rich, warm sounds of glam is a welcome respite. Without getting too nostalgic (I was only a young child in those days, besides) it’s really nice to hear the rich sounding drums, strong basslines, solid piano, and raw guitar work of the glam artists. Setting the importance of their influence aside, just going back and appreciating what the genre did for the sound of rock is reward in itself.
But of course, glam was influential and, despite only a few of the artists breaking through to large success and never really breaking big in the US (though doing well internationally in Europe, Australia, and Canada), the glam look and sound had the most direct catalytic effect in launching modern rock. Curiously and full of contradiction, modern rock acts both rebelled against and embraced glam, as will be explored soon at Ceremony in a deep look into the year, 1977.
Glam rose quickly, flew high for two to three years, and then faded quickly. While male artists have been combining make-up, theatrical performance, and music for centuries, in the rock music world glam was the first to embrace that approach and in doing so forced the traditionally masculine, heterosexual, and sexist rock industry to open its eyes and accommodate a broader range of looks and sounds. Paradoxically, despite the greater femininity in the fashion and make-up, the music was muscular, powerful, raw and edgy, but still male dominated. Perhaps this was necessary to break the male mold of what was an acceptable rocker, because thereafter women would appear in greater and greater numbers, as documented in my three part series on women in modern rock. Glam would fall out of mainstream favour but persist in other forms through glam metal, the pop-rock and hair bands of the ‘80s, and the adaptations in punk, new wave, and goth within the modern rock world. The music varied, but glam made its mark over a short time and its effects are still evident today.