Blast From The Past: Velvet Goldmine

In a response to one of the posts about bubblegum music, a reader states that glam is like “bubble gum with pubes”. Vile, yes. Disgusting? Absolutely. But not a bad analogy.

Glam is bubblegum’s older brother/sister, more streetwise, more decadent, more overtly sexual, but at its core it’s still pop music with gigantic hooks. Aural glitter, if you will. These songs don’t hope to catch your attention with a wink of an eye; that would be far too subtle. Glam is zippers and bulges and leering innuendo – wham bam thank you ma’am.

Many films tried to accurately portray the scene; few succeeded. Velvet Goldmine not only had a great storyline – think Eddie and the Cruisers but starring Bowie and Iggy – but a killer soundtrack that still holds up today. I heard the soundtrack prior to seeing the film, and it only accelerated my desire to do so. Faith rewarded in both media.

Todd Haynes co-wrote and directed the film, which featured a stellar cast including Christian Bale, Ewan McGregor and Eddie Izzard, among others. But the music…ahh, the music.

My thoughts from 1998, first printed in TransAction Magazine


I confess up front that I havent seen the movie, although that has not been a deterrent to appreciating soundtrack records – they usually have little to do with the plot anyway. But I know good glam punk when I hear it. Shudder To Think does Bowie incarnate with “Hot One”; Placebo gives Bolan a workout with their version of “20th Century Boy”.

Also included are some great turns by Teenage Fanclub (“Personality Crisis”), Thom Yorke and star Ewan McGregor (a ripping version of “TV Eye” backed by Ron Asheton, Mike Watt and Thurston Moore, among others!). Plus how can you go wrong with Eno, Lou Reed, Roxy Music and Pulp?

And for those who forgot Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel in Mott’s wake, heres a reason to dig out your vinyl. God, the energy, the passion, the feeling!  So tell me again how the pulse of the music world had its balls shrink into raisins over the past few years?

Velvet Goldmine soundtrack

Velvet Goldmine film

Clip: Placebo rocking “20th Century Boy”

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3 Comments

Filed under Film/TV, Music, Reviews

3 responses to “Blast From The Past: Velvet Goldmine

  1. I adore this film. This and Hedwig & the Angry Inch (my favorite movie) jumpstarted an obsession with 70s glam rock.

    One of the interesting things about glam to me is it seems to be completely a product of its time and place. I say that because there are so few successful attempts to play 70s-style glam since. (The hair metal thing doesn’t count.) Bands that emulate that sound exactly just sound like rote imitators, and most bands that try to update the sound for today don’t usually work, either. Hell, most of them are just Green Day imitators wearing more eyeliner.

    Somebody needs to write a really exhaustive book on glam. Dave Thompson, maybe?

  2. drbristol

    A book on glam would be great but I already know I’d be disappointed…because it would be done by someone who doesn’t have the insight. Hell, *I’d* probably blow it (no pun) if given the opportunity. Maybe a collection of essays from writers/musicians who pick their spots?

    And Hedwig is killer – just talking with my daughter (who I took to see the stage show) yesterday about whether the stage or film soundtrack album is better; they’re both great. My favorite rock music movie ever, along with That Thing You Do.

  3. steffie3

    i just love this movie i saw it just because it was on a list aof ewan films (huge fan) and ended up loving it im a fan of glam rock and loved ewan with long hair and nice body lol

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