by: Gary Glitter

This 1973 outing marked the album-length debut of Gary Glitter, the campiest of all English glam rock stars. The finished product is much like the performer himself: too over the top to take seriously but entertaining nonetheless. The obvious highlight of Glitter is "Rock and Roll," his worldwide 1972 hit, which bookends the album in vocal and instrumental versions. The vocal version is an effective slice of retro rock, but the instrumental version is pure magic -- glam rock reduced to its primal essentials: infectious handclaps, big drums, a grungy guitar riff, and a group chant that anyone can sing along with. The rest of the album is primarily composed of classic 1950s and 1960s covers like "The Wanderer" and "Baby Please Don't Go." These songs are kept interesting by the way producer Mike Leander slyly updates them with glam rock touches (plenty of doubled drumbeats and percussive handclaps) and the enthusiasm that Glitter displays in recording songs that he obviously adored. The standout cover is "The Clapping Song," which gains a primal level of excitement from its new handclap-doubled glam beat and an exuberant performance from Glitter. The package is further spiced up by a few exciting original tunes: "Rock On" is a percussive, sax-driven invitation to partying and "Famous Instigator" is a witty but affectionate 1950s pastiche that combines a Dion-style melody with lyrics reminiscent of Chuck Berry. The CD reissue also throws in "I'm The Leader of the Gang," a hit single from 1973 that was later covered by Brownsville Station, and three non-album B-sides. All in all, Glitter is too lightweight to be anything more than a cult item but is too energetic and too full of good cheer to dismiss. Glam fans will definitely consider it worth a spin. ~ Donald A. Guarisco

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