Glam Slam

With the sad passings of David Bowie, and Dale “Buffin” Griffin, it seemed only right to put together a tribute to “The Golden Age Of Rock n Roll”.

Right away I was reminded all that glitters isn’t necessarily “Glam”. In fact there isn’t that much of it as the whole era collapsed the minute it became a category. But the influence continues. Many elements that seemed new are now standard features.

Glam checklist: Theatrical make-up and stage persona. Image conscious with a fondness for fifties styles and POP Art mashups. Saxophones, female back-up singers, Flashy lead guitar stylist as foil to singer. Muscular rhythm section. Elements of prog.

Even though there is no Glam without Bowie, he doesn’t appear. Instead Bauhaus represents with their faithful, lively rendition of “Ziggy Stardust” (1982, number fifteen on the UK singles chart), illustrating how glam morphed into goth. Just because the dinosaurs are gone doesn’t mean we’re not surrounded by birds. If you know what I mean.

In the valley of The New York Dolls, you mean. Generation X’s “Valley Of The Dolls” is straight up glam. It’s only missing chick singers and saxophones. From their sophomore effort. When they were still a band.

“Rock Star” is from “Velvet Tinmine” a collection of obscure UK singles from the era (1973-5), and is by Bearded Lady. I found a page in wikipedia and there is really nothing to know.

“Needles In The Camel’s Eye”, worked so well for Todd Haynes during the opening of “Velvet Goldmine”. It’s the most successful part of the movie.

A lot of art rock got lumped in with glam, and Kevin Ayers wore the make-up. “Interview” is kind of a bookend to David Essex’s “Rock On”.

Queen knocks it out of the park with “Now I’m Here”. Epic on every level. Sheer Heart Attack indeed.

Enjoy!

Glam Slam

Alex Chilton RIP Big Star

 

Bach's Bottom

William Alexander “Alex” Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) was an American songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer best known for his work with the pop-music bands the Box Tops and Big Star.
Chilton’s early commercial sales success in the 1960s as a teen vocalist for the Box Tops was not repeated in later years with Big Star and in his indie music solo career on small labels, but he did draw a loyal following in the indie and alternative music fields.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Chilton

The original artifact

I moved to New York City August 1, 1988. It took awhile to get settled which really means not about to get evicted. When I finally had enough coin to buy a little baggie of weed and make a trip to the record store it was sometime in March, 1989. I know this because I have a cassette dated April 1, 1989, which I must have made within a week or two of buying Big Star’s Third. I’d heard of Alex Chilton, knew he’d been a Box Top, and that he was responsible for music I needed to hear. Mixed with this impression was also tragedy, and or failure, and that while he was still making music it wasn’t as it turned out more Big Star. I’d never run across any of his stuff until I found 3rd which I bought and loved on first listen. It was recorded in sessions produced by Jim Dickinson at Ardent in Memphis during 1974, but never properly sequenced and released until years later.

Of course I was back at the record store looking for more within days, where I purchased my second Alex album, Bach’s Bottom, which was an entirely different experience. I’m dense enough not to have realized until just now that the title was a pun on “Box Tops”.
The title wasn’t the only thing that mystified me. The vinyl record of 3rd didn’t have all the extra songs the cd’s come with, just ten of the best, most solid tunes. No “Downs” for instance.
How did the brilliant songwriter and performer who crafted this masterpiece follow it up with the junk on Bach’s Bottom (1975)?  Exactly the question every Big Star fan wonders.  I went back to the record store and bought High Priest. More lame, barely listenable crap, including a throw away “Volare”.   After that I just zeroed in on the Big Star albums and avoided Alex’s solo work just like most post Velvets Lou Reed.

When I really liked something, I’d make a cassette copy to listen to every day and archive the vinyl.  I’d read somewhere once that a record begins to sound different after about eight plays.  I would have copied 3rd almost immediately. The blank cassette I had available was a C-60, so I filled the end of each side with “highlights” from those other albums.

One song from Bach’s Bottom I couldn’t stop listening to was “Take Me Home (And Make Me Like It)”.  Before posting this I did a little research and found that there are three versions altogether on the 1993 Razor and Tie version of the album.  I think the one I like is #2, but on Amazon, the sample you can hear has so much banter at the top that it cuts off before the song actually kicks in.  The version posted is dubbed from the cassette. It’s the only thing I really remember about Bach’s Bottom, maybe my copy had more than one version, I don’t know.  It took me half a day to find the cassette, which disintegrated while I made the transfer, in fact about 2:30 in you can hear where it was almost eaten.   The spirit captured by the recording is so great, I love Alex’s instructions about the headphones and the helpful advice at the end.  Everyone is obviously lit up like a tree,  the performance’s sub demo quality get’s by on charming exuberance and the song still comes through, even though he’d just previously sung “It’s The Singer Not The Song”, which by the way, isn’t true.
It’s got this great tension between what it is and what it could have been which is the story of Alex Chilton’s career.  That’s why I’m posting this and not one of the Big Star classics which I figure everyone else is doing.

I meant to get this up days ago, but I became suddenly busy with Globular Cluster.

"Global" Cluster had a blast at this show

Take Me Home And Make Me Like It

Here is a very brief video by William Eggleston shot in Memphis about the same time as sessions for 3rd (Sister Lovers) (1974). Captures perfectly the studio ambience of Memphis nightlife found on  “Take Me Home And Make Me Like It”, I think.
Eggleston has contributed the cover photos for both Big Star and Alex solo albums Radio City, ColumbiaLike Flies On Sherbert,  and others probably as well.  I’ll have to check later.

The Grandest Time

here’s another:

Be Nice

My Name Is Lou

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Rock N Roll Animal

Rock N Roll Animal

This Is An A Chord

This Is An A Chord

Lou Reed fans suffer greatly, so this post is for them. It’s fun to take the piss out of Lou, he’s an easy target.
“My Name Is Lou” is not Lou Reed, but an incredible simulation. It’s by The Bogues, an Atlanta quartet whose 1994 “Stereo Sound Blast”, included this loving tribute. Only a true fan would capture all the nuance, or lack of it in this hilarious send-up of Lou’s later work.
It’s got all the clunky lines and lame details he’s known for.
The sound is perfect, down to the solo, it could be an outtake from “Legendary Hearts”, “Mistrial”, or “New York”.
I couldn’t find much in the way of additional information on The Bogues, making this pretty obscure. I will say that the rest of the album is just as awkward as late period Lou. I would love to watch him listen to this.

I’ve also included “Do The Ostrich”, Lou’s “first” single, probably from 1964. It was one of the cheapo knock-offs he did for Pickwick Records, released under the name of The Primitives.  Draped in Velvet, it celebrates a non-existent dance craze.
One of the Velvet Undergrounds first shows was a battle of the bands at a suburban New Jersey high school, in support of this single.
“Sneaky Pete”, also by The Primitives s probably the B side and starts with the same intro as “Rock And Roll”. “Cycle Annie” and “I’ve Got A Tiger In My Tank” are by The Beachnuts, while “You’re Driving Me Insane” is by The Roughnecks. All filled with the kind of poetry Lou is famous for. Some are more Velvet than others. “You’re Driving Me Insane” would not sound out of place next to Run, Run, Run, for instance.
To my knowledge these have never been re-released in any official form. This is from a vinyl bootleg I bought in 1983.

I’m sure Lou would rather you didn’t hear them.

Last is my personal favorite Lou Reed song from 1977’s “Street Hassle” It’s “Dirt”. Lou plays everything except the drums. It’s a poison pen letter to his manager. It’s full of surprising twists and turns. It’s why I put up with Lou.

My Name Is Lou
Do The Ostrich
Sneaky Pete
Cycle Annie
I’ve Got A Tiger In My Tank
You’re Driving Me Insane
Dirt