Like a miss­ing link that is unearthed hun­dreds of years after the fact to per­fect­ly bridge the gap between two dif­fer­ent species, this best-of album rep­re­sents the meet­ing point between glam-rock and new wave.  It’s the work of one Nick Gilder, an unsung genius who man­aged to per­fect­ly syn­the­size the sleaze, gui­tars and frilly exper­i­men­ta­tion of glam to the tight, hooky, syn­th-lay­ered struc­tures of the new wave sound.  In the process, he cre­at­ed some of the most deca­dent ear can­dy you’ve nev­er heard.

If you were lis­ten­ing to pop radio in 1978, you prob­a­bly heard Gilder’s “Hot Child In The City.”  The fact that it became Gilder’s one and only hit betrays the fact that most peo­ple don’t pay atten­tion to the lyrics of their pop fare – beneath the gen­tly puls­ing bass line, AOR gui­tar riffs and key­board frills is the dark tale of Sunset Boulevard hus­tler seduc­ing impres­sion­able young jail­bait.  Gilder’s fey, androg­y­nous vocals lend it just the right mix of ambiva­lence and the­atri­cal­i­ty to send it right over the top.

Hot Child In The City” was a sur­pris­ing burst of sleaze into the main­stream and the deca­dent, slight­ly men­ac­ing tone it offers res­onates through­out the rest of this disc: “Runaways In The Night” offers anoth­er tale of  noc­tur­nal cruis­ing that plays out over a fre­net­ic glam back­drop spiked with spacey syn­th wash­es and “Rated X” offers a porn star’s roman­tic lament dressed up in piano-pound­ing vers­es and a snarling, gui­tar-laced cho­rus (note: the lat­ter was cov­ered by Pat Benatar on her debut album).

But there’s more to this col­lec­tion than ear-catch­ing sleaze. Gilder and co-writer/guitarist James McCullough were excel­lent crafts­men and cre­at­ed pol­ished, care­ful­ly struc­tured songs that hold up beau­ti­ful­ly.  More specif­i­cal­ly, they had a dis­tinc­tive abil­i­ty to fuse many dis­parate strands of the 1970’s pop/rock spec­trum — glam, new wave, are­na rock, hard rock — into a seam­less blend and each song pre­sent­ed here dis­plays this chameleon­ic abil­i­ty in spades.  Even bet­ter, their work is aid­ed and abet­ted by Mike Chapman, the super-pro­duc­er whose gallery of hits includes the Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Blondie and the Knack.

The Gilder/McCullough/Chapman triumvirate’s com­bined knack for glossy pop-rock ensures every song is burst­ing with hooks: “You Really Rock Me” pumps up its new-wave bounce with metal­lic heft, “All Across The Nation” is a glit­ter­ing glam-teen anthem com­plete with hand-claps on the cho­rus and “She’s One Of The Boys” is a tough-chick trib­ute built on a hyp­notic, cir­cu­lar guitar/synth riff.  However, their tow­er­ing achieve­ment is “Tantalize,” an orches­tral, mul­ti-part glam epic that plays like a mini-sym­pho­ny for the Ziggy Stardust set.

Simply put, there is no dead space on this CD.  Listening to The Best Of Nick Gilder: Hot Child In The City is like hear­ing a great­est hits album from anoth­er dimen­sion.  Need I say that it is a schlock-rock must?