Does anyone know the way… to Chartbusters?

1970s, album covers, glam rock, haute naffness, interesting record sleeves, Slade, the sweet

I really try to keep such frivolous record purchases to a minimum (I mean, how many times do I want to listen to somebody else’s version of songs I love?) but certain covers are pretty much impossible to resist. Knitted hotpants and thigh high socks? Lace-up knitted top? Wildly hairy jacket? Perfect Jo Grant-style feather haircut? Yes. Please.

If you, like me, love all things Seventies [and are in the UK], then don’t forget to tune into Dominic Sandbrook’s new series on the era on BBC2 at 9pm tonight. Plus a new series of Sounds of the Seventies after this at 10pm. Heaven…

I also never need much excuse to post videos by Slade and Sweet…

Duffy (finally)

1960s, amanda lear, book reviews, brian duffy, jean shrimpton, michael sarne, mild sauce, pierre la roche, seventies fashion, the sweet

Queen magazine, 1963

Although you’ll all have long since forgotten that I promised to review the fantastic Duffy book (published by ACC. RRP £45 but currently £31.98 on, I certainly haven’t and it’s been rather weighing on my mind. In fact, I’m troubled by the fact that I rarely seem to have the energy to type long, rambling blog posts at all these days.

So, as I often do, I will largely leave the photographs to do the communicating. Which is rather the point of the book itself. It is not a weighty tome about the life of the man, rather it is a weighty tome about the talent of the man. The talent which made him world-famous, but eventually left him feeling so trapped he had to [pretty much literally] destroy it in order to escape it. Page after page of gorgeous women, swinging dudes of the highest and lowest order and generally Interesting People. But it also covers the later period, the advertising and the selling-out, or ‘prostitution’ as he honestly described it.

I have to admit, I’m always on the look out for new Duffy shoots in my magazines because I’m almost rather bored of seeing the same ones shown again and again. And to be fair, of course, in Duffy’s case there is the genuine problem with the complete lack of original source material. His son Chris has spent years reassembling the archive, and I have to respect the labour of love that this project has become. Thankfully, the book is more varied than the exhibition I attended earlier this year would lead you to believe. I have scanned a few of my personal favourites, which I hope will communicate the beauty of his work.

A pet hate must be noted at this point, which is that these books rarely identify the designer of the clothes worn in the pictures. I know it doesn’t seem like much to a non-clothes obsessive, but I want to know if that dress really was by so-and-so and I find it infuriating for such information to be left out when surely it must be known?

Obviously, luxuriously printed and sized books such as this require the highest calibre of image quality for reproduction purposes, but it would be nice, in a few years time, to see a book which features more obscurities, more magazine tear-sheets and clippings; covering the lesser-known styles and techniques he used. For there are many. I mean, David Bailey has had enough books about him to last a lifetime; Brian Duffy certainly deserves another one.

Definitely one for the Christmas list. And watch out, because I’m going to be reviewing more books to put on your Christmas list over the next few weeks. Yes indeed.

Amanda Lear, 1971

Sweet, 1970

Unidentified, 1960s

Jean Shrimpton, Vogue 1962

Average White Band album cover, 1979

Michael Sarne, 1962

Pirelli, 1965

Pierre La Roche, Aladdin Sane make-up artist, 1973

Alphasud Car, Henley on Thames, 1974

Mike Henry and Nancy Kovack, 1964

Monsieur Le Stud

haute naffness, joan collins, lps, roxy music, the stud, the sweet

A few weeks back I discovered the soundtrack album to The Stud in a charity shop in Hove. At a mere £1, and featuring my beloved Sweet and Roxy Music, I couldn’t resist.

I was also entertained to discover an advert on the inner gatefold for ‘Monsieur Le Stud’, a range of aftershaves etc with a brilliant description of what the pong must have been like….

Legendary are the powers attributed to musk and ginseng from which the fragrances of life and love have been extracted. Now in union, carefully balanced and blended with essences from exotic flowers, mosses and herbs to create a pleasing distinctive masculine fragrance.

We warn you that wearing ‘Monsieur Le Stud’ can be very demanding.

Some things never change, do they? Wanky perfume descriptions and novelty perfumes least of all. Saying that, I am now somewhat desperate to find a bottle to give to M. So if anyone comes across it, and can bear to part with it, please do let me know!

Now I don’t like to cast aspersions upon Monsieur Le Stud but I suspect that it might be a little overpowering, so you might need to open a window. Which brings me to Sweet’s ‘Love is like Oxygen’, as featured on the soundtrack. I need no excuse to post Sweet videos, really, but I thought I would make the effort…

Lover of the cover

album covers, the sweet, twiggy

When I was hunting for decent sized images of The Sweet for my last blog (fiendishly difficult, I might add), I stumbled across darklorddisco‘s flickr account and, more specifically, his 45 picture sleeves album.

I have gone through brief LP-hunting phases in the past. But lack of space has often restrained me from buying (though I love to look and still bitterly regret not picking up a Twiggy album from a charity shop in Streatham) and I’ve even re-donated in moments of madness (or clarity, however you want to look at it). I’ve started buying a few more lately because, well, my groupie ladies and my boyfriend are a very bad influence on me.

Whilst I’m trying to be ‘good’ and stick to people I know I love, there is something quite irresistable about really, really bad covers by people you don’t know. And by bad, I mean good. And by good I mean, they’re pretty bad. And so on.

Novelty has its limits, usually available storage space, so it’s a delight to come across someone else’s collection. Which saves you time, space and money. And scanning effort. I hope darklorddisco doesn’t mind my posting a few of my favourite examples. I’m VERY fascinated by those Risqué ladies indeed….

The Sweetest Thing: Musings on Glam Rock

david bowie, glam rock, marc bolan, platforms, roxy music, seventies fashion, the sweet

I appear to be having a ‘Sweet’ kind of week. And it reminded me that I had intended to do a blog post about them ages ago.

I think the main reason I adore them so much is that they are the perfect example of how pervasive the glam-look became in the early Seventies. As a natural successor to the mod and then the psychedelic dandy (both of which you could use to describe early incarnations of both Marc Bolan and David Bowie), glam rock was as peculiarly popular with men as it was with women. It makes less sense for men than either mod or dandy. Both of those looks were smart and instinctively retro. The kipper ties and paisley prints were flamboyant, but they harked back to the fops and dandies of the past.

Glam, however, was like nothing before it.

I appreciate that most men wouldn’t have been wandering around in full make-up, seven-inch platform boots and silver lamé. But the fact that proper ‘blokes’ like The Sweet would appear on TV and in magazines dressed as such, must have heavily influenced the general street style. Away from the gorgeous young things styling themselves on Marc Bolan, men did wear flares; they wore super tight t-shirts, brighter ‘feminine’ colours and, yes, they did wear moderate platforms.

This period is possibly the last time men would, somewhat paradoxically unselfconsciously, just dress however they liked. Without fear of mockery or being thought effeminate. Every other street style subculture since then has been rigidly regulated and adhered to, and only by those with enough confidence to try. This lot were just having fun.

Watching the latest glut of ‘guitar heroes’ and ‘I’m in a rock band’ type programmes on the BBC lately, even the grimiest, blokiest of rockers were wearing skin tight t-shirts and flared jeans, and is that a hint of a heel I can see there? Can you really imagine that happening now? Please excuse me while I drift into a reverie about men being manly enough to walk around in flares and tight t-shirts….

I don’t even need super-fit, super-lean young specimens of the sex. I find the chunkier, hairier, gruffer ones the most endearing.

Which brings me back to The Sweet.

They weren’t pretty like Bolan. They weren’t weird like Bowie. They weren’t goofy like Slade. They weren’t flamboyantly arty like Roxy Music (although, Eno is another good example of a most unlikely candidate for ostrich feathers and make-up, but he rocked it pretty impressively). They were four blokes who had already tried the psychedelic route, and failed with their version of Slow Motion (a Miss Peelpants favourite when it was done by The Magicians).

It’s a rather sad story, really. They were so desperate for success they allowed themselves to be moulded by the Chinn and Chapman hit factory into strange parodies of Bolan and Bowie*. They had little control over their musical output and, presumably, their appearances. They were even replaced by session musicians on some early tracks, despite being very competent musicians. But they seem to have thrown themselves into the glam style with great enthusiasm and flair, whether or not it was something they would have done to that extent without influence.

When they eventually broke free of the manufacturers, the first self-penned hit was Fox on the Run, they wrote some of the greatest material of their career. But while the make-up was toned down, and the costumes consigned to glam history, they continued to wear tight flared jeans and t-shirts – despite the spread of comfortable living and age starting to show.

I don’t suppose they had enough identity after this point, which is why they weren’t so able to metamorphose into a more serious rock band for the late Seventies. And the New Romantic love for glam rock was far too snooty and serious to take much influence from them. I remember being very sad when Brian Connolly died in 1997. He had been a heavy drinker and the failure of his career post-Sweet just exacerbated this. I’ll definitely visit him when my time machine arrives and I’m doing the rounds of hugging random people from history….

*That said, I love this era. I love the music, the clothes and everything. And I’m sure, in retrospect, they loved it too. It was just unadulterated, lightweight fun.

You cannot keep me seated when Blockbuster is playing. Seriously.