Like high collars, tiny football shorts, and prawn cocktails, glam rock is a quintessentially ‘7os proposition. Also like the aforementioned, it has never seemed especially well poised for a comeback, in spite of briefly popular efforts by the likes of Scissor Sisters and The Darkness.
While the genre has never made its way back to the mainstream, though, the music still delivers, and as layers of irony are added and the sense of fun becomes ever more welcome in today’s climate, many albums from glam’s heyday sound better today than they ever have done before.
The movement boasts so-called “guilty pleasures” that require something of a wry smile to truly enjoy, but these nestle alongside bonafide classics of any genre, music that would gain the critical nod of approval with or without blown out hair and 12 inch platform boots.
These 10 records from the golden age of glam offer a surprisingly deep experience for the rock fan.
Cheap thrills and posturing, sure, but beyond that, songs of heart and emotion by musicians who knew how to deliver the goods and look the part while doing it.
10. Cockney Rebel - The Psychomodo
Steve Harley (here as part of Cockney Rebel) is primarily remembered as a one hit wonder these days.
1975’s “Make Me Smile” is a truly classic single, but before he made himself the headline act and embraced warm pop came The Psychomodo, a weird, often dark, always rocking album that showcases Harley’s distinctive, characterful voice and willingness to push musical boundaries.
With influences equal parts blues and Eastern mysticism, Cockney Rebel aren’t afraid to go long here. The album’s twin centrepieces are “Ritz”, laden with droning strings and phased vocals, and “Cavalier”, a creeping, paranoid epic which makes a somewhat problematic lyrical nod to one of Agatha Christie’s novels.
Perhaps the best track is closer “Tumbling Down”, a slow burner that climaxes with the whole of Cockney Rebel roaring across the fade out. They’d re-emerge shortly after as a slightly different proposition, but this hard edged group had a lot to offer besides the sweet pop most associate with Harley.
It’s weird and wild music by a daring bunch of operators.