For three years, from 1970 to 1973, Glam-Rock rode the crest
of a wave in the British Charts, and first out of the traps, and top of the
ladder throughout these years was Marc Bolan. With his corkscrew hair, elfin
looks, and colorful glam rags, he was every teenage girl’s dream. He was
leading his Electric Warriors to two #1 albums, four #1 singles, and eight other
top five singles, including two tours of America, one of Asia, and continuous
touring in Europe.
Everywhere, the whole band was greeted on stage by mania from
a barrage of young girls not seen (or heard) since the days of Liverpool’s Fab
Four. All concerts were sellouts, and a series of dates at London’s Wembley
Arena were being filmed as the movie ‘Born to Boogie’, directed by none
other than Ringo Starr. It’s quite strange to see Ringo standing there in the
midst of all these screaming females without one of them recognizing him. It was
only eight years earlier that he had been the object of their desire.
Glam Rock came in many different shades, the pre-packed
article being one. The Chinn/Chapman writing partnership looked after at least
four of the most successful acts. Sweet, with ‘Blockbuster’ and ‘Ballroom
Blitz’, Mud with ‘Tiger Feet’ and ‘Lonely this Christmas’, Suzi Quatro
(one for the boys) with ‘Can the Can’ and ‘Devil Gate Drive’. Smokie
with ‘Living Next Door To Alice’ (yes, the original version of that other
version of ‘Alice’) and ‘I’ll Meet You at Midnight’. To keep all these
bands going they must have been turning out a song a day.
Then there were the bands that wrote their own songs. T. Rex
with ‘Hot Love’, and ‘Ride a White Swan’, Slade with ‘Coz I Luv You’
and ‘Mama We’re All Crazee Now’ (all of Slade’s songs were deliberately
misspelt - well I think it was deliberate), Wizzard with ‘Ballpark Incident’
and ‘See My Baby Jive’, or Cockney Rebel with ‘Judy Teen’ and ‘Come Up
And See Me Sometime’.
Some major rock bands used the Glam Rock scene as a kick
start to their careers, like Mott the Hoople, who got their first big break in
1972, with the David Bowie penned ‘All The Young Dudes’ after which they
wrote a couple of Glam Rock classics themselves, ‘Roll Away The Stone’, and
‘All The Way From Memphis’. So without Glam Rock I may well have been called
‘Spot’, ‘Rover’, or something just as common.
Unfortunately for most of the bands not in the last category,
it was very hard to forge out a long lasting career. Because, although they were
all able to keep up the string of hit singles for Glam Rock’s three year
duration, none of them were able to come up with whole albums that matched the
Not really surprising for the Chinn/Chapman bands. I mean,
how could the songwriters keep coming up with singles for them all, let alone
Sadly, such was the case with Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex.
Although the singles were all ‘Solid Gold, Easy Action’, on his albums, you
got an awful lot of swine before you got the pearls. The album in question,
‘Electric Warrior’, was when Bolan was at the height of his popularity,
being preceded by two #1 singles in ‘Hot Love’ and ‘Get It On’. The
latter of which is included in this set. It was his breakthrough song in the
United States of America, but re-titled ‘Bang a Gong’.
‘Electric Warrior’ was released in September 1971 going
straight into the #1 slot, followed by another single in November, ‘Jeepster’,
which still got to #2 despite the Christmas rush. The album, I fear, sold so
well because at the time any magazine that had Marc Bolan on the cover would
have sold in its millions, and such was the case with ‘Electric Warrior’. It
became a must have item for all of the band’s fans, regardless of what it
What you actually get is eleven tracks, two of which are
classics. The singles; ‘Jeepster’ absolutely cooks in its final passage, and
‘Get It On’ (Bang A Gong) is simply stunning in a timeless way, with its
Chuck Berry riff, refrain, and infectious toe tapping rhythm. Unfortunately
Bolan’s sigh as the song fades out, ‘Meanwhile I was there thinking’, is
the last bit of genius on the album.
All the other songs are embarrassingly repetitive, just going
over the same old formula, with varying degrees of glitter sprinkled over them,
but never coming near to the standard of the singles.
Bolan’s long time producer Tony Visconti has released the
30th anniversary addition of this album with some fine sleeve notes. There are
also an added eight tracks, which were either works in progress, or demos never
meant to be released for public viewing - and on hearing them, they never should
This was no way the end for Marc Bolan and the Boys, as the
singles kept coming, interspersed over several albums. However, by 1974 it was
all over bar the shouting. After the band split up in much rancor at the end of
the year, Bolan faded from the scene.
Before his tragic death in 1977 he was reduced to doing his
own T.V. show, but by then Punk Rock was rearing its ugly head.
If you are a fan of Marc Bolan and T. Rex I suggest either
‘The Essential Marc Bolan and T. Rex’ CD, which collects all the hit singles
together, or the double CD called ‘The Best Glam Rock Album in the World ...
Ever’, which has most of the songs by the bands mentioned in this column, and
more. Both of these are Five Star efforts.
For those of you who look back on the days of your youth
wistfully, remembering 28'’ bell bottom trousers, tiny tank tops, staggering
around on your 8” platform boots, with glitter in your hair (these are the
guys I am talking about), there will be a display of early seventies foolery by
those old Glammers from Bangkok, ‘Mott The Bastard’, who will be playing
most of these songs from memory at Shenanigans The Irish Pub. Hopefully the band
will totter on stage at about 10.30 p.m. on Friday 13th June. Lucky for some,
but not if ‘El Diablo’, ‘The Root of All Evil’, and ‘Sandilands’, on
his bike, in a wig and make up, have anything to do with it. Can you dig it?
Marc Bolan - Guitars and Vocals
Micky Finn - Percussion, Vocals
Steve Currie - Bass
Bill Legend - Drums
Lean Woman Blues
Get It On
Life’s A Gas
Plus Eight Demos