word of the week – ‘glam’ (glǽm).
Last year ‘Electric Warrior’, T-Rex’s seminal sixth album turned 40. This year ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’, Bowie’s breakthrough record hit the same milestone. So I thought I’d quickly doff my spandex cap to Glam Rock, the genre that made it OK for boys to deviate musically and sartorially… and make the odd foray into their girlfriends’ make-up bags.
Above: Size matters... The Sweet touted the more obvious side of Glam
Of course, not all the lads were comfortable with the Glam look. Word magazine ran a picture last month of Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey from Bowie’s original backing band, looking more like Men from C&A than Spiders from Mars. They revealed that Bowie’s sideman Mick Ronson hated the clothes so much, “he packed and left for Beckenham Station”. ‘The Great’ Paul Thompson, drummer with Roxy Music, former apprentice welder at the Palmers shipyard in Jarrow, was another who had something of an allergic reaction to glitter and platforms.While Bowie, Bolan and Roxy have stood the test of time and remain hugely credible artists, I’d like to put a quiet word in for The Sweet. Unashamedly poppy, with brazenly catchy songs written by the prolific Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, they scored an amazing 13 top 20 hits during the 1970s, with ‘Blockbuster’ topping the charts in 1973. Though the title of highly successful 2006 BBC time-warp series ‘Life on Mars’ nods to a Bowie song, its 1970s soundtrack, tellingly enough, was dominated by The Sweet.With it’s rejection of hippie mores and free licence to experiment, Glam paved the way for its spiky younger sibling Punk… and for that, we a have a lot to be grateful for.