Archive for the ‘David Bowie’ Category

When I became a high school student in South Wales in 1973 one of the habits I immediately acquired was to watch “Top of the Pops” on BBC One on Thursday evenings. The enormously popular show, which ran from 1964 to 2006, was the birth place of glam rock in 1971 when Marc Bolan of T. Rex appeared in sequins and with glitter under his eyes. Although I missed the T. Rex show by a couple years, I did see many of the sexual and gender innuendos and ambiguities, and theatrics, of the early glam acts while sitting crammed into a tiny tv room with my school mates. Glam quickly spread beyond the UK , influencing acts on this side of the pond, including Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Susi Quattro, until morphing into all sorts of other genres. More later.

In the meantime, get your eyeliner on and ready yourself for my Top Five Glam Rock Picks.

And a hat tip to Jessica for suggesting the topic.

Next week: Top Five Girl Bands

1. T. Rex-Hot Love

This is the song (and the actual performance) that started it all. Tryannosaurus Rex had been a folk act until, under Marc Bolan’s influence, it went electric and changed it’s name. Legend has it that Chelita Secunda, the wife of Marc’s manager, applied the most influential two dabs of glitter ever, creating the genre which was uncharitably described by John Lennon as “just fucking rock and roll with lipstick”.

2. David Bowie-Starman

If T-Rex was ignition, David Bowie was liftoff. “Starman” is on “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” a 1972 concept album featuring a persona created for the occasion. Although concept albums were hardly new-“Sergeant Peppers” was released in 1967-Bowie actually became the character portrayed in the record. Heady stuff. Brilliantly produced and executed, this album put glam on the map.

3. Roxy Music-Virginia Plain

Roxy Music (even the name sounds glamorous) was formed in 1971 by Bryan Ferry and Graham Simpson. Simpson became ill shortly after their first album was released in 1972, leaving the band’s core members as Ferry on vocals and keyboards, Phil Manzanera on guitars and Paul Thompson on drums. Hugely influential (think The Cars, Duran Duran, Kate Bush, Annie Lennox and so forth) Roxy Music remains for me the coolest of the cool and Bryan Ferry the leader of that particular pack.

4. Lou Reed-Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Quitting the Velvet Underground in 1970, Lou Reed took a job at his father’s accounting firm as a typist. A year later however he recorded his first solo album in London, which did absolutely nothing commercially and was furthermore overlooked by critics. Lou hit gold however with the Bowie and Mick Ronson (he is the guitar player in the gold suit in the “Starman” clip) produced “Transformer”. “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” is an ode to, and something of a musical compendium of, Andy Warhol’s Factory. That it was not censored for radio play is more a testament to clever writing than content and it really did serve to introduce Lou to the mainstream. If ever Lou was mainstream.

5. Iggy Pop-Sixteen

Iggy Pop is perhaps more of a product of glam rock than anything else and was another musician who worked very closely with David Bowie. Iggy met Bowie in 1971 in New York City, when he was already established in The Stooges (a member of which at one time was Scott Thurston, who plays guitar and piano in The Heartbreakers). His critical and commercial solo success was with Bowie at the producer’s helm. This track is off “Lust for Life” which followed the hugely successful “The Idiot”, also Bowie produced. It is too be noted that Iggy still refuses to wear a shirt, but has reportedly given up writhing in broken glass.