SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Can The Glam! 4CD Clamshell Box Set Various Artists

CAN THE GLAM!     Various Artists  (4CD Set)
Well no prizes for guessing what this latest offering from Cherry Red’s 7T’s label is all about. Over 2 years in the planning and compiling this retrospective of the early to mid 70’s UK Glam phenomenon is represented here in 80 tracks across 4 CD’s blending the Major acts with the forgotten, also rans and in respect of this reviewer the never heard before! (which after 50+ years in the business is some sort of record in itself). So lets dive in and see a sample of what’s on offer. The whole collection kicks off with the Shepperton Flames and a track called ‘Take Me For What I Am’ which is real proto Glam being recorded as early as 1969, it’s a stomper that stitches on screaming fans (think start of Sweets Teenage Rampage) and has a ‘hook’ that’s driving me crazy because i’ve heard it elsewhere but just can’t place it…infuriating! Whilst still puzzling over this, next up is a band that is far removed from the whole Glam scene it’s 60’s comedic/cabaret band The Barron Knights no less, well known for their p**s take medleys of famous bands. But lo and behold this track ‘You’re All I Need’ is a straight stab at the genre and sounds very like something The Glitter Band would have released, even down to the lead guitar which sounds remarkably like my old late mate Gerry Shephard (lead guitarist with the GB) it’s actually very credible. The first of the heavy hitters puts in an appearance next it’s the curly tressed demon fairy Marc Bolan with what was probably in hindsight the epitome of T Rex with ‘Metal Guru’. Another unlikely band puts in a look with Vanity Fare familiar to all with their 3 60’s pop hits. Here they make a reasonable but ultimately forgettable foray with a Georgio Moroder song who normally comes up with a hit but not in this case. The compilation’s title pun ups the heavyweight entries once more with another old mate Susie Q with what else but ‘Can The Can’. Chicory Tip, Alvin Stardust, Arrows, Geordie and Barry Blue with ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ are the other well known tracks mixed in with the aforementioned also rans with interesting entries from bands American Jam Band, Cardinal Point & Rock Rebellion to name but 3. Disc2 Begins with that most hard hitting of Glamster bands Slade, with a track from their glorious 1974 album Old New Borrowed And Blue the stomping ‘We’re Really Gonna Raise The Roof’ followed by a band named Lemming and a track ‘Father John’ which is a rather bizarre mixture of the Glitter Band & The Rattles! and speaking of The Rattles, we all remember ‘The Witch’ and when i saw The Casuals listed with ‘The Witch’ i thought what?!! but as it turns out it’s a different song with the same title. But having once compered a concert on Hastings Pier which featured The Casuals and satanic rockers Black Widow on the same bill nothing would have surprised me…I was rather taken with another 2 bands unknown to me Big Boy Blue with ‘Getting Hungry’ and The Washington Flyers and ‘The Comets Are Coming’ both respectable efforts. The more familiar names are scattered throughout with Mud ‘The Cat Crept In’ (a guilty pleasure of mine!), Mungo Jerry, The Glitter Band & The Damned. Disc3 starts with the wonderfully named Micky Moonshine (an alias for Paul Curtis) and a track ‘Baby Blue’ where ‘Micky’ sounds like Alvin imitating dear old Les Gray imitating Elvis! this is fun! it’s a shame some of these also rans never quite made it…this is followed by a band named Catapult where the song title ‘Teeny Bopper Band’ says it all. The first of the name bands arrives next with Blackfoot Sue…no not that song!! but a track entitled ‘You Need Love’ which was their (unsuccessful) 6th single release. Next up is the guys in those ubiquitous White caps The Rubettes with ‘Juke Box Jive’ where the lead singer actually sings the lead vocal unlike on monster hit ‘Sugar Baby Love’ where he lip synced to a more accomplished singer (don’t get me started on that farce….) Moving on….Interesting entries come from bands Go Go Thunder, Fifth Form & Bilbo Baggins. Other big names showing up on this disc are Showaddywaddy, Hello, Barry Ryan, & The Bay City Rollers all with lesser known tracks than the usually compiled, making it more interesting. The final Disc4 starts with the 3rd hit scored by Kenny the No 12 ‘Baby I Love You, OK!. This is followed by another band like the aforementioned Barron Knights you wouldn’t expect to find on a Glam compilation, this time it’s Paper Lace with a decent Mitch Murray/Pete Calendar song ‘So What If I Am’ which is a damn sight more listenable than the excruciating likes of ‘Billy Don’t Be A Hero’…well that’s my opinion…Interesting bands to discover on this disc are Dancer with ‘Hate Generator’ and i was rather taken with a band called Shabby Tiger and their track ‘Devil Rides Tonight’ amongst several other unfamiliar names to me. There are less well known artists putting in apppearances on this last disc in the collection but John Paul Young, Andy Bown, Johnny Wakelin & Slik all get a look in. There is a wealth of interesting information complete with photo’s on each artist in the accompanying 40 page all colour booklet and the whole collection has been remastered for optimum sound quality. If you’re a fan of the genre and you would like to extend your knowledge beyond the obvious Sweet, Bowie, Bolan you will find plenty to discover and savour here. I had the pleasure of working with 2 of the artists (on the same bill) featured on this compilation on Hastings Pier back in the early 70’s…..great days! Enjoy.
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Til next time……….stay safe……Colin

Mick O’Dowd… Looks a really interesting compilation with not just the usual suspects involved.




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