I COULD lie to you.
I could tell you the first single I ever bought was T Rex's Hot Love or David Bowie's Starman. But I think it was Barry Blue's Dancing On A Saturday Night. Barry wore a blue satin suit and his real name was Green. His single contained a bouzouki riff, pop doggerel lyrics and the stomping drums that underpinned most glam records. When I was 10 it sounded like sugar.
Glam was about lots of things. It was about sex, identity, a rejection of hippy and a sometimes desperate desire for success (talent being optional). At the time I think all I ever noticed was the colour. "So swishy in its satin and tat," as Bowie might have sung.
Tat's a good word for it. In the last few days I've been looking through Wired Up, a new book of glam single covers, and what strikes you is how unstyled everything was. It's all badly-applied mascara (Tony Condor), and huge platforms and American football tops (Scotland's Iron Virgin).
These days we divide glam into high (Bowie, Bolan, Roxy) and low (the rest). At the time I loved all of it. I made no differentiation between the good and the bad, although for some reason I never warmed to Gary Glitter (no, I'm not psychic). I think it was just because my best mate John liked him.
Some music hits you so early that it's hard to feel any distance from it. I can tell you now that I listen to Bowie and Bolan and Roxy and know they're superior, and that's true. But if I hear the Sweet's Blockbuster on the radio I'm pulled in. Suddenly I'm 10 years old again, being chased down the street by John with his transistor radio because Gary Glitter is on. What does glam mean to me? It means childhood.
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