Personality Crisis – New York Dolls
Every year we inch closer and closer to punk music and, with this track from New York Dolls, you can really hear how the hard rock song is beginning to contort to something more akin to the Ramones or especially The Clash.
The album this comes from (which I will need to listen to at some point for my other listed) is cited as being a key early and influential work in the punk genre. The key thing that makes this not quite punk is the glam element to their image (which was partially based in drag) and the flamboyant ways that auxillary instruments like keyboards are included.
The Ballroom Blitz – The Sweet
Right, a proper glam rock song here. Before starting on this list I would have said that I just don’t like glam rock, but I think I’m coming round to the idea that it might be more the fusion of glam and hard rock that I don’t particularly go for. I mean, I like David Bowie and I was tapping my foot along to ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ nearlt as soon as it started.
Interesting to note that this band started off as a bubblegum pop act before morphing into glam rock. I think it might be this weird fusion of musical styles that actually helped me to enjoy this song. Also it has a great sing-a-long chorus, which is always seductive.
Jolene – Dolly Parton
‘Jolene’ is one of my favourite country songs of all time. It’s a stone cold classic tale of a wife pleading that an attractive woman doesn’t go and steal her husband just because she can. These feelings of inadequacy is probably something everyone can relate to at some point within their relationships, which just adds to it.
The real power of the song comes from the simple backing guitar and the amazing vocals of Dolly Parton in the front. Such a spartan arrangement just adds to the image of a housewife fretting in the kitchen about ‘that’ woman. Is it an actual confrontation or the wife pleading to the sky.
It was nice to have a country break.
Next – The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
Well… this is a weird song. This is done on the list as being another glam/hard rock song, but it feels like anything but. I mean, this lists Belgian chanteur Jacques Brel as one of the writers – and given the content and cadence of the lyrics I could really believe it.
This song feels like what would happen if Captain Beefheart took it upon himself to sing covers of French chanson. It’s a rock-cabaret fusion that is oddly unsettling and yet I can’t quite say that I disliked it. To be fair, this took me completely off-guard and feels weird enough that it’s inclusion on this list feels justified.
20th Century Boy – T. Rex
Okay, so maybe I just don’t like Slade. For me Slade has always been an avatar for what glam rock, but the more I realise all the songs that come under the ‘glam rock’ moniker, the more I realise that I actually like quite a lot of these songs.
I mean I have heard ’20th Century Boy’ quite a few times over the years and I have always thought well of it. Now that I listen to it in context with the other glam and hard rock songs that were coming out in 1973, I think I like it more. Probably means I should be making time for Electric Warrior at some point in the future.
Rock On – David Essex
This post has been a real revelation about what ‘glam rock’ really means. Given that it has roots in the cabaret scene it would make sense that songs like ‘Rock On’ would fit into this category. It’s just that… it’s not an incredibly rocky song in the more obvious sense.
However there is this underlying menace to that song with it’s very distinctive baseline, percussion and muted vocals. This is a rock song without electric guitars. Considering that I only know of David Essex from his later work in musical theatre, this was a welcome surprise.
Search & Destroy – Iggy & The Stooges
Compared to some of the other glam rock and proto-punk that I’ve listened to for this post ‘Search and Destroy’ actually feels pretty straightforward. I guess I need to listen to the rest of Raw Power before I cement an opinion on this song as, for now, it feels oddly vanilla within this line-up.
Desperado – The Eagles
After all these harder rock songs (apart from ‘Jolene’) it’s nice to end on a soft rock song that is actually quite beautiful. Seeing how the only Eagles song I knew before this was ‘Hotel California’, I expected something a bit more rocky rather than a, then modern, take on the rock ballad.
Given that this is the song that named the album, there really is a weird disconnect between the tough looking album cover and this song that is a plea to a friend to come to their senses. It’s one of those songs where I imagine everyone watching it played live will get their lighters out and sway in the dark.