Album review: VARIOUS – Oh! You Pretty Things Glam Queens And Street Urchins

Cherry Red [Release date 26.02.21]

Oh! You Pretty Things is a 3 disc, 66 track Glam (and more) boxfest, which disappointingly, despite its title, doesn’t feature the late David Bowie song. And ironically, nothing from Hermans Hermits, who turned it into a faceless pop hit in 1971.
But we do have The Pretty Things (Joey), and let’s face it, everybody else is here. Headline bands who surfed the glam wave on the back of great songwriting and musicianship. Bands like Roxy Music (Pyjamarama), Slade (Take Me Bak), Sparks (Barbecutie), ELO (Ma Ma Belle), Ian Hunter (Once Bitten…), Sweet (Six Teens), Thin Lizzy (Little Darling), Mott (Saturday Gigs), and many many more who flew above the radar, and many who flew below. And some who barely got off the ground, but found their way into the hearts of open minded pop and rock fans, during a turbulent time in the evolution of pop culture.
Who could forget ‘Up In The Air’ and ‘Space Ace’, respectively by Bearded Lady and Brett Smiley. Well, I’m sure many could, and have. And yet they hustled up a sizeable core fanbase that indicated a youthful desire for groundbreaking music, even if sometimes it didn’t have staying power. In many ways, the transitory nature of the beast.

The collection is as much about the prevailing pop culture of the time as the music, and includes proto punk giants Iggy and The Stooges, as well as Lou Reed, who, er… transformed his alternative rock beginnings into a sound that was massively influential in Glam Rock circles (thanks to Mick Ronson). And The New York Dolls, who are often described as a band who emerged from the early NY punk scene, while others claim their brand of Glam Rock reinvigorated the US East Coast music scene. You pays your money etc etc.

In no way is this collection confined to the great and the good. Good stuff circled the culture, often moving through the periphery of popularity, without making it to the centre, but attracting teens who wanted to leave the latent flower power and psychedelia of the sixties behind. Curved Air, The Heavy Metal Kids, SAHB, Blackfoot Sue, they all had their moment in the sun, their 15 minutes (which gets a nod from Bowie on Dana Gillespie’s cover of ‘Andy Warhol’). And of course, The Pink Fairies, whose 1973 single, ‘Street Urchin’ helped give this expertly curated collection its name.

As well as the 3 discs, the clamshell contains a 40 page booklet of stories and photos that bring the music of the era alive, acknowledging its long lasting artistic worth, and telling us just why it continues to resonate today. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk (Sunday 27 June )

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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 11 July 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 13 July 2021.

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Featured Albums w/c 26 July 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NITRATE Renegade (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 LEE AARON Radio On! (Metalville)
14:00-16:00 THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY (indie)

Power Plays w/c 26 July 2021 (Mon-Fri)

GRAVITY MACHINE It’s Summer (Zyse Records)
ANARIA Journeys Do Not End (indie)
SNAKE BITE WHISKY Choke (Sliptrick Records)
KI-JUNG Crystal Light (indie)
CONTROLLER Skyline (Curtain Call Records)
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