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Oldies Music Encyclopedia: "Glam Rock"


The New York Dolls' first LP, 1973

The New York Dolls' first LP, 1973

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Definition: Glam rock, in its very first, classic incarnation in the UK from approximately 1972-1974, arose from a number of distinct musical trends: a move away from what was perceived as the crushing seriousness of the metal, prog and hard rock bands that would make up what would later be termed "classic rock," a related love for retro Fifties three-chord rock and roll, the rise of bubblegum music aimed at teens in the late Sixties, and a general androgyny unleashed by the culture wars of that same time period. The typical UK glam rock song, therefore, was loud, stomping, simple, and flamboyant, with big guitar riffs and repeated chants that would encourage crowds to sing along. (The typical glam song of time also featured heavy, tribal beats and a lead vocal that blurred at least some gender distinctions.) Other artists that were too musically adventurous to stick to one genre dabbled in Glam as well (Queen, David Bowie, ELO, Cheap Trick).

Of course, America took some note. Sweet managed to have hits in the USA; the New York Dolls took the movement to heart, transforming that city's rock scene for the rest of the decade, and Alice Cooper began to inject the style and attitude of the genre into his own Doors-inspired mix of goth and hard rock. All of this helped make glam a tremendously influential movement: early punks and New Wavers caught on to the style's anti-hippie stance and brutal simplicity, while metal and hard rock bands looking to capture a younger and more varied audience began to assimilate the genre as well. The most popular of these -- KISS, Van Halen, Aerosmith -- went on to make huge inroads into American radio with their bluesier and harder version of glam; in the Eighties, their success would spearhead the entire "hair metal" movement (for which glam is unfortunately confused to this day by many Americans).

Also Known As: Glam, Glitter Rock, Hair Metal
  1. "Ballroom Blitz," Sweet
  2. "Metal Guru," T. Rex
  3. "Suffragette City," David Bowie
  4. "Cum On Feel The Noize," Slade
  5. "All The Young Dudes," Mott The Hoople
  6. "Personality Crisis," The New York Dolls
  7. "Do The Strand," Roxy Music
  8. "Can The Can," Suzi Quatro
  9. "I'm The Leader Of The Gang," Gary Glitter
  10. "Be My Lover," Alice Cooper
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