Tag Archives: glam rock

T.G.I.F. – Ten T.Rex Tunes

As soon as I pulled one of the T.Rex collections off the shelf last week, I knew I’d be doing a TGIF with their songs. Hard to believe that Marc Bolan died at 29, but his music still pumps me up over thirty years later. How one can hear “Bang A Gong” and not get caught up in it, I’ll never know.

A fixture of the glam rock movement, his impact in America was short and sweet but he dominated the UK music scene during his career.  Fragile yet headstrong, he dabbled in many arts and performed with many artists across the musical spectrum (never would have expected to see him credited on a Tina Turner track), and if the legacy is to die young and pretty…mission accomplished, mate.

So here are Ten T.Rex Tunes for this week’s TGIF. One and two and bobbidy bobbidy boo boo, yeah – let’s boogie!

(01) – “Children Of The Revolution

(02) – “Metal Guru

(03) – “The Slider

(04) – “Dandy In The Underworld

(05) – “Bang A Gong (Get It On)

(06) – “Buick MacKane

(07) – “Telegram Sam

(08) – “Jeepster

(09) – “Raw Ramp

(10) – “20th Century Boy

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Blast From The Past: Mick Ronson

God damn, he was great.

Always been a Ronno fan; loved his tone on all the Bowie albums and thought his collaboration with Ian Hunter was the perfect dynamic for both men. And while his first two solo albums (Slaughter On Tenth Avenue and Play Don’t Worry) didn’t hit those heights, they were enjoyable nevertheless. In later years I marvelled at how his magic touch would lend a spark to artists as diverse as Ellen Foley, John Mellencamp and Morrissey. I have plenty of great Ronson memories but thought of this one the other day when I came across an old review.

When I moved in June of 1981 I didn’t know a soul in my new town, but found out that Ronno’s band The New York Yanquis was playing a beach club about an hour from my apartment. I swear I was the only one in that club who was aware of the magician on stage, despite his more conventional appearance. Everyone else seemed to be getting hammered and ignoring the legend on stage, who simply went about his business blowing my mind.

It was the first gig of that tour, and the band had just gotten a cease and desist order from the Yankees baseball team, but even that introductory story didn’t make a ripple in this crowd of Budweiser swilling drunks. So he just played a myriad of rock and reggae and soul, backed by Shane Fontayne (guitar), Frank Cambell (bass), Tommy Gun (keyboards), and Wells Kelly (drums), with Ann Langte and Dede Washburn on vocals. I even got to talk to him for a while that night; he was exhausted and probably a little depressed but seemed relieved to know that at least someone recognized him and was excited about the band. It was the last time I’d see him.

His death hit me hard in 1993, and I assumed that there would never be another album since the others never sold that well and glam was the furthest thing from the current grunge on the radio. How delighted I was to come across Showtime in 2000, let alone the wonderful collections that followed.

Here is my review from Amplifier Magazine in 2000…

The first officially released live collection dedicated to Mick Ronson’s solo work is yet another stunning testament to the late guitarist’s versatility and passion. Showtime culls tracks from a 1976 performance of The Mick Ronson Band alongside excerpts from the 1990 Hunter/Ronson band tour. Lesser known tracks like “Takin’ A Train” and “I’d Give Anything To See You” shine while the cover of “White Light, White Heat” explodes with energetic fretwork. Extended versions of the instrumentals “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue” and “FBI” are highlights, but “Sweet Dreamer”, as always, is the emotional showstopping performance that will leave you with heart in mouth.

Limited editions of this release include a bonus disc featuring four tracks recorded in Sweden in 1991, later versions of which appeared n the posthumous release Heaven and Hull. The label is reportedly assembling more Ronson releases including a CD spotlighting his instrumental work. Keep it coming folks, this is magic!

Listen to clips here.

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New Album! Michael Monroe

Holy Crap! This puppy smokes.

If you like glam rock, you already know that singer Michael Monroe has A-list credentials. And when it comes to powering such a band, it doesn’t get much better than a band featuring Sami Yaffa on bass and both Ginger and Steve Conte on guitar. And while even I had to look up a guy called Karl Rockfist – because that’s just too great a last name for a drummer – I soon realized it was actually Karl Rosqvist, skin pounder for The Chelsea Smiles.

So if you think you’d like a band that combines Hanoi Rocks, The Dictators, The Wildhearts, The New York Dolls and The Sex Pistols, this one’s for you. and while the first album, the Jack Douglas produced Sensory Overdrive, isn’t out yet…Another Night In The Sun (Live In Helsinki) is. A combination of old favorites and covers, it kicks ass from the first note and proves that the band is as tight as it is talented. That might mean no Wildhearts or Dolls shows for a while, but I think we’ll survive.

“Me and the guys in the band decided to record a live album – something for the fans to have while they’re waiting for our actual studio album due to be release in the early part of (2011)…”

Video: “Nothin’s Alright”

 

We're coming to your town, we're gonna party it down

 

 

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Under The Radar: Jet City Fix

Bittersweet memories – I got to see Link Wray play shorly before he died, and although he was as frail as a wet tissue offstage, once they draped that guitar over his shoulders and zipped up his leather jacket, he was The World’s Oldest Ramone. And it was that night that I also discovered the brilliant band that backed him up, the Jet City Fix. Still play the snot out of that one album and am hoping they haven’t given up the ghost. Here’s a reprint of my review of their one and only release to date:

 

This album goes to "eleven"...

This album goes to "eleven"...

 

Jet City Fix – Play To Kill

As Play To Kill made my speakers bleed, damned if I didn’t swear on a stack of burning bibles that the Jet City Fix was from Dee-troit, where real rock and roll oozes out of every pore. But no, it’s the “Jet City” of Seattle making up for a decade of substandard grunge by shepherding a goddamned real live rock and roll band our way. 

Here you have:

  • A band good enough to open for and back up Link Wray.
  • A band that can stand toe-to-toe with Iggy.
  • A band cool enough to not only revere The Wildhearts, but to cover one of their songs.
  • A band with the balls of Social Distortion that can write a hypnotic hook without making it sound like formulaic radio fodder.
  • Guitars that sound like they’re plugged in and turned up.
  • A vocalist whose sandpaper voice – imagine Elvis Costello straining to keep up with Buckcherry – can carry the melody instead of the other way around.
  • Fist-pumping songs like “Drowning” and “Dumb Luck” and “Whipped” – even a self-titled anthem called “Jet City’s Rockin”.

Play To Kill is one cup of glam, three shakes of rockabilly, a dash of Joe Perry, a lick of Mick Jagger’s swagger and two buckets of attitude dumped in a Waring blender and set to puree. To quote the closing track, “Fire It Up” – pretenders like The Strokes surely peed their widdle panties when they heard this one.

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NEW ALBUM! Slingsby Hornets: Whatever Happened To…

Pollen Pop?

Pollen Pop?

Slingsby Aviation built some of the world’s greatest gliders, and although used by the British during WWII, they were mostly tactical observation planes; drone bombers at best. The Hornet, on the other hand, was a piston-engine fighter plane used by the RAF, built by the de Havilland company. What this has to do with glam rock and powerpop takes on classic 60’s music is beyond me, but I can tell you that John Paul Allen’s angry insect logo is the antithesis of the pure joy coming out of the speakers when The Slingsby Hornets are playing.

Whatever Happened To is the follow-up to 2007’s Introducing The Fantastic Sounds of; like its predecessor it’s a one-man studio effort from Allen. Boasting a dense layer of guitars, stacked vocals and a simple but uncluttered rhythm section, Allen blends five original pop songs inbetween covers of classic garage and glam singles like “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” and “Rock’n’Roll Love Letter”. His solo vocals are more breathy than powerful, but the layered harmonies are skillful, even within production that’s smaller in scale that some of the bands you’ll be reminded of (Jellyfish, XTC and especially Queen – Brian May is obviously an influence). But there’s no denying the pure love of the music, but anyone that can cover The Osmonds and ABBA with the same respect as The Move and T. Rex is okay in my book. I really like the originals, especially “The Long Way Home” and “Black & White Movie”, but the covers are obviously the draw. My favorites are Klaatu‘s “Calling Occupants” and Marc Bolan‘s “Children of the Revolution” in which Allen also incorporates the related “Buick Mackane”.

My copy of the new album included the Knee Deep In Glitter EP which features five covers, including Cliff Richard‘s “Devil Woman” and “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me” by Slade. The guitars are much louder and overall the music rocks harder, even the chugging version of “Does Your Mother Know”. As with all Slingsby Hornets covers, they’re anything but straightforward copies of the original.

Introducing also has five originals, the best of which is the synth/guitar duel of “The Man From Yesterday” and the more delicate “Stop The Rain”. I’m no fan of Captain and Tenille so I’m not crazy about a cover of “Love Will Keep Us Together”, but at least it adds some muscle to the melody. I much prefer his take on “Fire Brigade” and  a cover of “My Sharona” that sounds like Brian May (yes, again) jamming with Todd Rundgren. Again, Allen wisely alternates his originals with the diverse covers, as if to show that any radio station (or pair of ears) that would appreciate one would also find the other appealing. Use the CD Baby links above or check their MySpace page for more details and sound clips.

***

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Life On Mars, or Getting The Kinks Out

I’m trying not to get giddy as I’m watching another episode of Life On Mars. You know, the US adaptation of the hit British series, about…well…a time-traveling cop. No, really, stay with me.

The premise? After an accident, NYPD detective Sam Tyler inexplicably finds himself back in 1973, where he must help solve a murder that is eerily similar to a case he was investigating in 2008. I would probably freak out way more than Tyler does, or at least do something irresponsible like clean up betting on sporting events…or take another shot at that doomed college romance. But as Tyler, Jason O’Mara is able to convey that fish-out-of-water vibe yet still find a way (often humorously) to fit in where he once belonged. The cast is phenomenal, featuring Harvey Keitel (Harvey Keitel on television?? Is there ice skating in hell?), Gretchen Mol, Michael Imperioli, and most impressively, Imperioli’s porn star moustache.

He won't give you any lip

He won't give you any lip

The location shots are almost perfect. As a friend pointed out, it’s not that all the cars are period vehicles, but it’s that they aren’t all showroon new – there are sweet looking GTOs, but also rusted Chevys and dented Darts. But what really sets the show apart is the bed of music – a classic 70s hotbed featuring everything from The Stones to The Sweet, from Chicago to Cream, The Who and The Velvets to David Bowie and T Rex. Even the episode titles (“Out Here In The Field”, “Let All The Children Boogie”) are a hoot as well as a clever tip to both the plot and the surprise soundtrack. When one episode started with Mott’s “All The Way From Memphis” I thought I would plotz (and I’m not even Jewish), but last night they hit the bulls eye –  “Supersonic Rocket Ship” by The Kinks. WTF??

I might be the single biggest Kinks fan roaming the Earth, but if you put a gun to my head and made me write down fifty Kinks songs…hell, a hundred Kinks songs…that would not be among them. Not because it’s a bad song – besides “Rock And Roll Cities”, is there really a “bad” Kinks song? – but because it’s just another of the subtle nuggets in their vast catalogue. Who the hell picks music for TVand comes up with that one, when there are so many others to draw from? Obviously, someone very, very cool, who really knows their shit – that was a deep dig. Kudos, whoever you are. (And yes, it was the perfect song for the scene)

But viewers, enjoy it while you can, because unless this crippled economy changes the residual rates, you’re probably not going to relive the experience when you grab the box set next Christmas. Start taping!

It seems like almost everything is coming out on DVD these days, but notable exceptions are shows like China Beach and WKRP that would be crippled by the license fees they’d have to pay. WKRP tried releasing a set with generic music in place of the originals, but it was a massive failure. Les Nessman has to be listening to Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded” when primping for his date or that scene just doesn’t work. Ditto Wiseguy‘s Vinny Terranova and Sonny Steelgrave, exhausted after a brutal fight, silently sharing a bromance glance (two decades before it was hip, by the way) to the not-so-subtle strains of “Nights In White Satin”…the scene (cough) pales without it. I don’t know if Life On Mars will be as gutted, but there hasn’t been a show as adept at using songs since Homicide. We need more great glam rock songs on TV, even the fake ones.

So tune in and catch the show in its full pomp and glory, the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Trust me on this one.

But hey, as long as you’re here now…kick back, whatever your decade, and give a listen.

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