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Oh! You Pretty Things: 'Children of the Revolution: The Glam Rock Story 1970-75'

Dave Thompson (Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell: The Dangerous Glitter of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed) knows his glitter, and he leaves no rhinestone unturned, here.


Children of the Revolution: The Glam Rock Story 1970-75

Publisher: Cherry Red
Length: 456 pages
Author: Dave Thompson
Price: $24.95
Format: Paperback
Publication date: 2011-06
Amazon

Children of the Revolution: The Glam Rock Story 1970-75 is a meticulously researched and undeniably thorough guide to the music of that genre, as well as its attendant fashions and cultural effects. Author Dave Thompson (Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell: The Dangerous Glitter of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed) knows his glitter, and he leaves no rhinestone unturned, here.

Presented in a chronological chapter and encyclopedic entry format, Children of the Revolution begins where glam is believed to have been born, and that's with Bolan. "It was Marc Bolan who set the glitter ball rolling", Thompson states in his introduction, and he goes on to explain how the psychedelic era, musically past its prime in 1969, still had a hold on the fashion world at the dawn of the '70s. This, along with things like the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain in 1967, the repeal of a law censoring plays and other stage productions, and the continued popularity of psychedelic drugs, fostered an artistic community—with Bolan at its center—that created glam. Bolan was the first to combine "the sexual ambiguity, the sartorial sensuality, the literary art, and theatrical cinema".

That explains the "glam", and Bolan was undeniably the man to emulate in all aspects, but even he knew, the music was the main man. Glam Rock was all about projecting a glittering image, but that image would fall flat off its platforms if the songs didn't rock. As the individual entries start, it's interesting to note that the first song singled out is the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back". Not because it was glam, but because it was inescapable, irrepressible, and, therefore, influential.

Another influential entry in the 1970 section mentions Nicolas Roeg's film Performance, which was largely loathed at the time, but still made its mark. However, the bulk of that year covers Bolan. His formation of Tyrannosaurus Rex while dreaming of going electric, the rivalry with David Bowie (including of course, Bolan's guitar work on the sessions for Bowie's "Prettiest Star"), and the eventual shortening of the band moniker to T. Rex are all discussed at length. To be fair, there are entries for RAK records and for the first television appearance of a little group called the Sweet, but in 1970 it really was mostly Bolan.

In 1971 and through to the end of the volume, the entries become more numerous and varied. T.Rex and the Sweet dominate Top of the Pops in '71, but they're joined by other, now familiar, names like Slade, Alice Cooper, and Bay City Rollers, as well as by lesser-known artists and influential events like the London run of Andy Warhol's Pork. It wasn't all Gary Glitter's "Rock 'n' Roll, Roxy Music, and Ziggy Stardust (though you would probably be forgiven if you thought it was) in 1972. The next year had still more Sweet, Slade, and Spiders From Mars, but it also gave us Cockney Rebel's The Human Menagerie, Suzy Quatro, The Rocky Horror Show, Queen and Wizzard. Mud had its first hit, Alice Cooper had Billion Dollar Babies, Bolan attempted to abandon glam, and Bowie retired for the first time.

The chapter on 1974, while continuing to present TOTP positions, significant releases and relevant events, focuses more on the reasons that glam and glitter never really took off commercially in the United States. I can tell you now, it was not Jobriath's fault, but Thompson suggests it might have been OPEC, or Nixon, or Terry Jacks. This was the year Jefferson Airplane took a nosedive by changing its name to Starship. Maybe the US didn't deserve glam rock?

The year 1975 marks the end of the era , but that doesn't mean it didn't have some sparkling highlights: Sweet's "Fox on the Run" battled Bay City Rollers' "Bye Bye Baby" for top chart position, Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson toured together, The Arrows' Roger Ferris wrote a response to the Rolling Stones' hit "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" (which later caught the attention of one Joan Jett, by the way), and Roxy Music released "Love Is the Drug".

The entries in Children of the Revolution, though encyclopedic in style and organized by month, have a consistent narrative within the chapters that makes it feel as though you might be reading a biography of glam, rather than a reference book. It brings in all sorts of artists and records—some well known (Mott the Hoople), some more obscure (Tim Dandy), some cult favorites (Sparks) to tell the story of a particularly exciting time in (mainly British) musical history, while simultaneously providing context for glam rock's social, sexual, and cultural impact.

Children of the Revolution: The Glam Rock Story 1970-75 has a personal epilogue from Thompson, as well as four appendices, one of which is about, perhaps, the very thing that destroyed glam. It's entitled "Disco".

8

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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