Gary Glitter writes out of glam rock history in favor of Noël Coward | The independent

It was the pop craze that lit up the 70s with a garish glow. But now Gary Glitter has stepped out of the definitive glam rock story for the benefit of Noël Coward.

Once ridiculed as a teeny-bopper fad, the glam era is now rehabilitated with the release of a five-CD compilation and a 100-page book, which attributes music and its outrageously dressed stars to a role. central to the development of British popular culture. .

The top of the pops regulars T Rex, Roxy Music, David Bowie, Slade, Suzi Quatro, The Sweet and Mud are all among the 91 tracks on Oh Yes We Can Love: A Glam Rock Story. Lou Reed, Blondie and The Ramones also feature on the £ 38 compilation, which guides listeners through the influence of glam on disco and punk movements and on contemporary performers of the ‘glam stomp’, encapsulated by Morrissey’s hits. , Pulp, Suede and Goldfrapp.

But while the exhaustive story includes songs from Little Richard and Jacques Brel as glam precursors, as well as the Osmonds and Marilyn Manson, there is no room for Gary Glitter, arguably the most successful representative of the glam with 26 hit singles, including three No. 1.

Disgraced Glitter was convicted of child sex offenses in Vietnam and arrested and released on bail last year as part of Operation Yewtree.

However, The Glitter Band, formed by the backing musicians of the flamboyant frontman, is represented with “Angel Face”, their single from 1974, recorded without “the leader of the gang”, which reached number 4. Daryl Easlea, music consultant and DJ who compiled the tracklist for Universal Music’s release said, “The Glitter Band is here – and frankly, ‘Angel Face’ is on par with their leader’s job on stage.”

The compilation includes The Human League’s version of Glitter’s “Rock and Roll“, but taste issues played a role in the singer’s omission. Easlea said: “If we had included Glitter it would have eclipsed everyone’s contributions and music.”

Glitter, 69, received royalties last year when the BBC rehearsed a 1977 edition of The top of the pops in which he appeared. The BBC said it would be “inappropriate to rewrite history” by removing his performance.

The opening track of the compilation may surprise those who dismissed glam as a regrettable opportunity for “brickies in eyeliner” to invade living rooms. The first recorded glam rock song was actually “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”, performed in 1931 by songwriter and wit, Noël Coward.

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“Noël Coward’s influence on people like Bowie, Roxy Music and Cockney Rebel was absolutely immense,” Easlea said. “It suggested that style, artifice and surface were just as important as depth and substance. Time magazine noted “Coward’s sense of personal style, a combination of sass and chic, of pose and poise.” It reads like a glam manifesto.

Glam’s takeover began with Marc Bolan’s appearance on The top of the pops in 1971, smeared with glitter, which “allowed a generation of teenage boppers to start playing with the idea of ​​androgyny,” claims the compilation.

The glam gene – which Easlea defines as “a sense of momentum and balance” displayed in music that “blurs the lines of genre and class” – still survives in today’s pop landscape.

“Lady Gaga has it a lot; Goldfrapp, when she comes out of the forest glade and comes back down from the nightclub, has it in spades,” Easlea said.

“A bit of Glam is exactly like The X factor; covers, the equivalent of one of those Top of the Pops albums on Pickwick in the early 70s. And characters like Alvin Stardust or the Rubettes would underline the egalitarianism of glam. If they could do it, so could you.

“You could argue that a lot of the glam was not at all genuine – exactly the accusation made every week against The X factor. But that doesn’t prevent audiences from coming back for more or some of these records which are fascinating time capsules.

Rock rewind: the stars of the playlist

Cowardly Christmas

The English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer is a surprise inclusion in the set. Coward wrote “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” in 1931; it has become a signature feature of his cabaret act.


Achieved huge success in the early 1970s, influencing the glam rock, punk rock and britpop genres. “Hot Love” and “Metal Guru” are included.

David Bowie

His flamboyant alter ego Ziggy Stardust, unveiled in 1972, gives him good reason to be included. According to biographer David Buckley, Bowie “may have created the greatest cult in popular culture.” “London Bye Ta-Ta” is on the compilation.

The Osmonds

The sleek American family group, led by his brother Donny, became the idol of teenagers in the 1970s. Had several hits in the USA before moving towards a more rock’n’roll sound. “Mad horses” is included.

New York dolls

American hard-rock group formed in New York in 1971 which has influenced groups such as the Sex Pistols, Kiss, Mötley Crüe, the Ramones, Guns N ‘Roses, The Damned, Poison and The Smiths. “Looking for a Kiss” gives pride of place to the box set.

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