Gold Dust: Glam rock's top 10 singles

Catherine Pepinster
Saturday 15 August 1998 23:02

1. 'Get It On' - T.Rex (Fly, 1971). 1971: T.Rex dominated the charts and every pubescent schoolgirl trembled as the elfin prince strutted his stuff on Top of the Pops. Rocking guitars, Ian McDonald's haunting sax, Marc Bolan's fey voice combined with the falsetto chorus of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman: this was the essence of the Glam Rock sound.

2. 'Starman' - David Bowie (RCA, 1972). Where Bolan led, Bowie followed - and quickly overtook him. "Starman" - in the charts for 11 weeks in 1972 - that introduced the 45rpm teeny buyer to the ultimate concept album. From the moment we first played The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, we knew this was the work of a genius.

3. 'Walk on the Wild Side' - Lou Reed (RCA, 1973). The song that brought Warhol's world to Radio 1. The narrative was enought to make any putative Keith Haring pack his bags and head for the urban nightmare. Bowie's produced the album, Transformer, together with his guitarist, the late Mick Ronson.

4. 'All the Young Dudes' - Mott the Hoople (CBS, 1972). Mott were old- fart West Country pub rockers, of the kind older brothers liked, until David Bowie wrote them this song. Overnight, it became Glam Rock's anthem for its doomed youth.

5. 'Virginia Plain' - Roxy Music (Island, 1972). Glam Rock for art students. You could look supercool and still be big on the music scene. When they first appeared, Roxy were a band fronted by an aloof Bryan Ferry; but soon it was Brian Eno who stood out, in collars so big they were wings. Affected and affecting, overnight 'Virginia Plain' made Glam the thing for sophisticates.

6. 'John I'm Only Dancing' - David Bowie (RCA, 1972). The one that nearly got away. Fed up with every single we ever bought turning up on an album within months, we failed to buy this one. Bowie caught us out, and didn't put it on a LP until ChangesOneBowie, in 1976. The sound of Bowie plaintively explaining to his boy that he was merely dancing with his girl signified the complexities of adulthood that awaited us.

7. 'Blockbuster' - Sweet (RCA, 1973). There were lots of nasty, sad bands who tried to make it on the back of Glam: Slade, Gary Glitter and Elton John, who tried to imitate the class of "Starman" with his lame "Rocket Man". But Sweet were different: so trashy, you didn't mind the sour aftertaste they left. Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman's "Blockbuster", sung by the blonde-with-a-blue-parting Brian Connolly, proved that pop was fun again. And that the British public's taste can never be underestimated: "Blockbuster" kept "The Jean Genie" off the No 1 slot in January 1973.

8. 'Hot Love' - T.Rex (Fly, 1971). Marc's first big No 1: it stayed on top for six weeks. The band recorded it on brandy at 4am: you can hear the boozy fun they're having in every smudgy moment. It's got all the ingredients: fulsome guitars, Mickey Finn's irrepressible bongo beat, lush choruses, and a terrible recording. Six years later, Bolan was dead.

9. 'Drive-in Saturday' - David Bowie (RCA, 1973). The main man and his Spiders took off to America, only to discover the psychotic nightmare that inspired Aladdin Sane. All the pain of fame, of the unknown, of the loss of control was here. "Drive-in Saturday" evoked the moment of yearning that made you realise Bowie was human after all. But on stage, he was a glorious alien: at Earl's Court in 1973, we clambered down fire exits to the stage, arriving alongside Mickey Finn and Angie Bowie.

10. "Angie" - Rolling Stones (1973); "School's Out" - Alice Cooper (Warner, 1972). "Angie" was Jagger's hymn to Ziggy's other half as the marriage fell apart. It also proved that Mick and Keith could ride any wave, classily. Alice Cooper was a sadder case: a division-two act trying to jump on the Glam bandwagon. But 26 years ago this week we sent it No 1. For one brief shining moment, we really did think we were children of the revolution.

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