Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sonic Sunday: Glam Slam

Watch out, everyone. I'm attempting to create another recurring topic. Actually, it's more of a resurrection of my long-dead feature, "What's in BeckEye's Ear," but I added download links and came up with a spiffy new title. It's not that I'm a giant Bangles fan, but I do go wild for puns and alliteration. Well, I don't think "Sonic Sunday" is really a pun on "Manic Monday." It's something...I'm just not sure what you call it.

Aaaaaanyhooo....I've been in kind of a glittery mood ever since Beth posted a song from the Velvet Goldmine Soundtrack on one of her recent Friday Mix Tapes. It reminded me of how much I love Glam Rock.
Crunching guitars + pop harmonies + theatrical vocals + bombastic lyrics + androgynous swagger = Awesomeness. So, break out your platform boots and draw a fake beauty mark on your face; then download these gems and stomp along.

(Click any link to download the song. Mp3s are available for a limited time, so get 'em while they're hot!)

1. "20th Century Boy," T. Rex - Led by the Patron Saint of British Musicians, Marc Bolan, T. Rex pretty much created Glam Rock. All image and raunchiness, it was intended to be disposable fun, but it turned into a whole movement. Although they were Gods in the U.K., T. Rex's only big hit in the U.S. was "Get it On (Bang a Gong)," a song I've never liked. I forced myself to like The Power Station's cover only out of loyalty to John Taylor, but now that I'm all grown up I can drop the charade. I only discovered this song in the late '80s. but it quickly became a favorite. It's one that I never get tired of.

2. "Little Willy," Sweet - Now, a song I am sick of is Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz," which I refuse to post even if it is one of the glammest Glam Rock songs ever. "Little Willy" is a much better song. Actually, I've always preferred "Love is Like Oxygen" to both of them but, unfortunately, I don't have it. Here's what bugs me about this band - are they called Sweet or The Sweet?? I've seen both and have never found a definitive answer.

3. "Ashes to Ashes," David Bowie - Bowie was different than most of the glam musicians in that his image was glam, but his music was much more cerebral and artsy. I'd like to think that he was the only one who had sex with Mick Jagger too, but he probably wasn't.

4. "All The Way From Memphis," Mott the Hoople - Mott was never the huge success here that they were in the UK, so most of us bloody Americans only know them for the classic "All The Young Dudes." The first time I heard this song was when some crappy '80s hair metal "supergroup" covered it. I put "supergroup" in quotes because it consisted of the drummer from RATT, and some other dudes I don't know. I think there was a chick from Vixen and maybe a guy from Dokken? I don't know. Who cares. Anyway, they didn't really do anything special with their version, so why bother with it? Stick with the original.

5. "Calling Dr. Love," KISS - It's been suggested that the New York Dolls were the only true American glam band, but I think KISS fits the bill. At least pre-makeup removal KISS. I mean, they dressed up in crazy costumes, wore kabuki makeup, sang raunchy songs and put on over-the-top live shows. If all that doesn't qualify them as a glam band, I don't know what does. While it's true that Paul Stanley was the much more theatrical vocalist, I just love this Gene Simmons-sung tune. My Dad recently had a doctor named Dr. Love. I never found out if he could breathe fire or not.

6. "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)," Joan Jett - This is another example of me not having access to the song that I really wanted. In this case, it's Gary Glitter's original version. I can't find it for free and I refuse to pay for it. I'm not giving this guy any money to support his kiddie porn addiction. Joan Jett does a pretty faithful cover, and when it first came out I had no idea it wasn't her song anyway, so I can live with this.

7. "Lady Xanax," Duran Duran - The Double D were part of the "New Romantic" movement, which was heavily influenced by the British glitter scene. Aside from Nick Rhodes, none of the guys got too into wearing girly makeup and their music was a lot more artsy and synth-heavy than Glam Rock. Still, they have a few songs that I feel fall into the glam category, and this one is chief among them. This is from 2000's Pop Trash, which was absolutely panned by critics but loved by me.

8. "2HB," The Venus in Furs - This is a cover of a Roxy Music song by a fictional band featured in Velvet Goldmine. I've never liked Roxy Music or Bryan Ferry, so I much prefer this version. Plus, it reminds me of Velvet Goldmine, which is a good thing. Not because it was a good movie, because it really wasn't. But any movie where Ewan McGregor gets nekkid is worth watching - more than once.

9. "Bones," Radiohead - Okay, now don't all yell at once that Radiohead aren't "glam." I know they're not really, but Thom Yorke's voice has a very theatrical quality to it, which gives a lot of their songs a glittery sheen. (If you don't believe me, listen to "2HB," above. That's Thom on lead vocals.) On a side note, since everyone loves misheard lyrics, I'll admit that when I first heard this song I thought the simple chorus line, "When you've got to feel it in your bones" was "You've got to see my alien bones." Thom Yorke is kind of a weird guy, so I thought it made perfect sense.

10. "In The Meantime," Spacehog - Often considered a "neo-Glam" band, Spacehog is arguably one of the greatest one-hit wonders ever. I have never been able to figure out the chorus to this song, but that's never kept me from singing (or mumbling) along to it. I suppose I could Google the lyrics but I've gone this long without understanding it so I figure, why bother now?

11. "Seen The Light," Supergrass - I love these guys. They aren't really glam either, but they're British and they've got the right attitude. They certainly borrow from some glam influences. All British bands love Mott the Hoople and T. Rex. It's like royal law or something. And they really lay down the law here, because this could have easily been a T.Rex song.

12. "Wailing Wall," Vic Thrill - You may have heard me mention this band before. They're local to NYC and I've known the singer for a few years. He used to be in one of my favorite bands, The Bogmen, before going in a totally different direction with what was being called "electro-clash" at the time. Yeah, it has keyboards and computer effects, but the snarling guitar and oh-so-catchy beat put this very near glam territory. Plus, the guys were all wearing makeup and obsessing over aliens at the time, so that counts for something.


Beth said...

I'm gonna LOVE this regular feature. Great insight on these songs, although I could get into a lively debate with you on a couple of points. Cool that we posted some of the same tunes this week!

If you adore Ewan's McGregor as much as I do, I hope you've seen The Pillow Book.

Bluez said...

No problems downloading! I opened mine with winamp. Great tunes. Glad you threw in that part about Velvet Goldmine because you're right it was as bad as "24 hr party people".

Not sure why but I was never a KISS fan.

Barbara (aka Layla) said...

I am going to love this feature too!

I adore(d) Marc Bolan. He is one of my all time favorties. I think I have all of T Rex's stuff.

BeckEye said...

Beth - Well, don't hold back. What are you itching to debate? Oh, and I haven't seen The Pillow Book. There are way too many Ewan movies that I haven't seen, and most of them seem to include full-frontal.

Bluez - Great. Glad there were no problems. The post has been saved as a draft for almost 2 weeks, because I've been having problems finding a good free file sharing service. I actually published this last night from a party, as I was telling one of the hosts about the songs and he seemed interested, so he was my downloading guinea pig.

Layla - Maybe I'll have a Springsteen theme one day, but you will have no use for those downloads. I'm sure you even have mp3s of Bruce singing in the shower! I won't ask how you got them. ;)

pistols at dawn said...

I really like early Bolan stuff, because there are nowhere near enough songs about wizards and dragons.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I can't tell you how much I love you for this post! Knowing that I am not the only person alive who hated Get It On, but love T Rex is very comforting. Have you ever seen the film Billy Elliott?

I can't actually comment on whether these download well or not, as I am still on a borrowed computer, but as soon as I get back on my own...

And for the record, as you say Radiohead are not glam, but apparently Thom loved dressing in drag whilst in art school, so I certainly think they qualify on that basis alone. I think he just felt it in his alien bones.

FranIAm said...

Just coming by to say hello and to congratulate you on the brilliant move to make Burgess Meredith your adopted grandfather who is also an actor.

If you had been born, which I am presuming you were not in 1961 and if I had known you, you would have totally been invited to my birthday party to hear him sing from a horse!

And that TZ episode is the best and also very not fair when those damn glasses break.

Malcolm: said...

I attempted several times to download songs, but the File Nanny server continues to time out on me. I tried downloading through IE and Mozilla Firefox, but still no go.

Anyway, "Sonic Sunday" is a excellent idea for a regular feature. I wish I had known that you didn't have "Love Is Like Oxygen" or the orig. version of "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)"... I could have hooked you up. Another glam rocker who I think gets overlooked in the U.S. is Suzi Quatro. If you haven't, you should check out some of her songs like "Devil Gate Drive" and "Can the Can".

deadspot said...

"I've never liked Roxy Music or Bryan Ferry"

I forgive you. Go and sin no more.

anandamide said...

I know Lou Reed was just dipping his toes in Lake Glam, but Transformer was a pretty great glam album.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Okay, I was able to have a listen. Holy crap, Thom Yorke does a mean Bryan Ferry impression!
Which only makes me love him more.

Malcolm: said...

As an FYI, I was eventually able to download. I'm listening to KISS right now.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

My inner child thanks you for the KISS tune. Greatest band ever! (Well, they were, anyway, back when I was a kid.)

BeckEye said...

Pistols - What, you don't have any Led Zeppelin albums?

Barbara - I've never seen Billy Elliot or Thom Yorke in drag. I feel like I'm missing out on something.

FranIam - Thanks for stopping by, too! I wish I had an mp3 of Burgess singing "Happy Birthday" from a horse for a future Sonic Sunday.

Malcolm - Suzi Quatro will always be Leather Tuscadero to me.

Deadspot - I like the two required songs, "Love is the Drug" and "Slave to Love." I'm sure that counts for something.

Anandamide - I don't own any Lou Reed stuff. I've never been much of a fan.

Barbara - He does! I wasn't even convinced that it was Thom on lead until I did some serious Internet investigating.

Malcolm - Hot!

BSUWG - You wanted the best, you got the best.

Travis said...

I like Little Willy! You know what's funny? When I clicked on the link to open the MP3, the genre showed as Glam on my Itunes.

The Moviequill said...

I guess they used both, different incarnations of the band meant a name change, great writeup here

BeckEye said...

Travis - That's because I labelled it as "Glam" in the file properties. :)

Moviequill - Ah, thanks for the info. But I will continue to call them "Sweet," because "The Sweet" just sounds the stupid.


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