Back in 2003, a compilation entitled Velvet Tinmine opened up a rich, unheralded vein of retro-rock nostalgia. It’s called “junkshop glam” and that moniker refers to the countless overlooked glam rock singles issued in England during the genre’s heyday in the first half of the ’70s. Velvet Tinmine was a hit with collectors and spawned an array of likeminded titles that found reissue labels plundering any archive they had access to for forgotten pearls of glittering ’70s pop-rock.
The junkshop glam scene has been quiet in recent years, at least until the recent release of All The Young Droogs. As its smartly Mott-quoting subtitle “60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks” suggests, it dishes up a triple-disc array of tantalizing glam obscurities, including a handful of previously unreleased tracks and a few nuggets lifted from ultra-obscure private pressings. The result proves that there’s plenty of territory yet to be explored in this cool little subgenre.
Disc One is entitled “Rock Off!” and deals with the harder-rocking side of glam. The best known group here is Iggy & The Stooges, represented by “I Got A Right,” a forward-thinking mashup of punk attitude and compressed metal riffs that had to sit in the can until a small-label single release in 1977. Highlights here include “Wok N’ Woll,” a stomper from Milk & Cookies that layers fey vocals and handclaps over a pounding groove amped up by snarling riffs, and “I Like It Both Ways,” a bisexuality anthem from Supernaut that deploys tough guitars and drumming to gives its message an edge.
Elsewhere on the first disc, a young Bryan Adams croons the lead vocals on Sweeney Todd’s “Roxy Roller” and Hustler takes cockney-accented music hall to hard rock heights on “Get Outa My House.” Keep an ear open for a cover of Rick Derringer’s “Teenage Love Affair” by Iron Virgin, a group that first gained notoriety on Velvet Tinmine, and Glo Macari’s “Lookin’ For Love,” a song that sounds like a bubblegum tune that got a shot of power-chord adrenalin.
“Tubthumpers and Hellraisers” is the title of Disc Two and it plays up the stomping beat widely associated with the glam rock sound. “Saturday Night” by Bilbo Baggins sounds like a ’70s update of the raving, McCartney-sung R&B covers the Beatles did on their early albums (think “I’m Down”) while “Gimme Gimme Some Lovin'” by Biggles is a savvy medley of ’60s rock fave “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'” and “Gimme Some Lovin” with Spectorian percussion and a raving party atmosphere. Mott The Hoople is the well-known name here, popping up with atmospheric album track “Whizz Kid.”
And that’s not all the fun on the second disc. “Sex Appeal” by Simon Turner has deadpan vocals and mainstream-pop strings and horns doing battle with ska-style organ and a marauding, cavernous beat while Tank’s “Fast Train” keeps the beat as a midtempo as it rolls out a delightfully sleazy boogie spiced with piano and a lascivious lead vocal. Listen out also for “Game’s Up,” a frenetic early single from Hello, and the campy horror-rock-with-a-big-beat of “Lucifera” by the Lemmings.
The third disc is entitled “Elegance and Decadence” and it’s Schlockmania’s favorite of the three because it explores the grandiose, operatic side of glam rock. “Criminal World” by Metro is an elegant, pulsating ballad that was stylish to be covered by David Bowie in the ’80s while “Wonder Ones” from New Zealand’s Alistair Riddell conjures up a wondrous carnival atmosphere with just orchestrated electric guitars and fanciful keyboards. Be Bop Deluxe is the best-known name on this disc, represented by “Night Creatures,” a beguiling string of character portraits for glam scene types over delicate yet taut acoustic guitar textures.
The rest of the disc offers plenty of memorable tunes, as well. John Howard’s “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” is a complex narrative that plays like glam rock’s answer to the singer-songwriter genre and “Pastiche Blue” from James Arthur Edwards is an incisive critique of the genre from its waning days laid out over a rock lullaby-style arrangement worthy of early Roxy Music. Bowie fans will be interested to see two groups featuring ex-Bowie sidemen on this disc: Woody Woodmansey’s U-Boat offers up “Star Machine,” a rueful rock biz expose with an elegant power-ballad arrangement, and the Spiders From Mars serves up the social commentary of “White Man, Black Man” that twists music hall stylings to glammy, synth-spiked effect.
The package is completed with a dense liner notes booklet full of eye-catching promo imagery. That said, the killer part of this booklet is the track-by-track info that gives you the stories behind each band and draws connections between the studio projects cranked out by hard-working writer/producer types cashing in on the glam trend. All in all, All The Young Droogs is a must-have for any glam rock aficionado, offering up array of lost treasures that will show there is much to learn (and love) about this short-lived by highly prolific subgenre.