- various artists CD
We've already heard some of the greatness UK label RPM Records has dug up in the Lipsmackin' 70s series on such collections as Zigzag, Magpie, Glitterbest (to be reviewed next week) and the long lost longplayer by Brett Smiley (who also has a track featured on Velvet Tinmine) to make us aware of the goodness to expect from another cd in this ever evolving and tantalizing series. This time around RPM has decided to spotlight rare and obscure glam singles from the early 70s, and of all the Lipsmackin' 70s cds, I think Velvet Tinmine will be the most popular, as it is certainly one of the best and most rewarding listens. It was one of my all-time favorite reissue compilations in the past year or two.
Digging deeper than most of us knew even existed, beyond the basic glam of T. Rex, David Bowie, Gary Glitter, and Roxy Music, RPM has dug up bands like Iron Virgin, Bearded Lady, Staveley Makepeace, Tartan Horde (featuring Nick Lowe and Rat Scabies), Plod, Fancy (featuring Alan Hawkshaw), Hello, Warwick, The Damned (not the late 70s punk outfit), Sisters, Flame, Arrows, Crunch, Simon Turner (in his youth), Brett Smiley, Ricki Wilde, Shakane, Washington Flyers, Big Wheel, and Tubthumper.
First things first - there's plenty of rocking glam here - the best of it definitely includes some early tracks on the disc.
You can't go wrong with a band called Iron Virgin, and their tune Rebels Rule which starts out the compilation is a pounding delight which will have you fist shaking before you know it. Bearded Lady's Rock Star is an addictively paced rocker which powers along with its pulsing guitar riffs and shouted chorus.
Hello's Another School Day fits perfectly next to the ton of glam and metal songs that were sung in the 70s and 80s about life as a bored schoolboy. Sisters' Kick Your Boots Off is just about as mindless as you can get, and is equal parts pre-Oi! and power metal nonsense, as well as a kissing cousin to Shoes Off (Boots On) by Abba clone group Luv'.
If you want to hear more addictive power pop, definitely check out Let's Get the Party Going by Warwick. Love Machine by Shakane has a haunting melody which reminds me of early 70s groups like America meeting a T Rex chorus, it's more relaxed and acoustic.
Don't be alarmed by the amount of child star prodigies that appear on Velvet Tinmine. There it is on display - from I Wanna Go to a Disco by Ricki Wilde with his feminine boy vocals by Ricki and mix of disco yearn and oldies music to Nick Lowe and the Tartan Horde's Bay City Rollers We Love You with its children's chorus and power pop glee, sounding like something John Lennon would've done if he weren't so involved in primal scream, Yoko Ono and Nilsson.
Brett Smiley was also a child prodigy (starring in Oliver! along with a young Davy Jones - not the David Bowie Davy Jones - but the one from The Monkees) and Va Va Va Voom is one of Brett's best songs from his Breathlessly Brett cd on RPM (which was also released as a single in the 70s, while the album was shelved).
Simon Turner (note that he also was a child prodigy) has done everything from soundtracks for Derek Jarman films to the King of Luxembourg; here he's heard on a twee power pop gem. He's for sure holding his head in his hands over this one - but no, it's a sweet little pop gem. (Baby) I Gotta Go really does sound like a Troggs song, as Bob Stanley mentions in the liner notes.
Morning Bird by The Damned is about as mindless as you will find on Velvet Tinmine, the kind of mindless that Paul McCartney wished he could reach with Linda and their Wings.
Staveley Makepeace's Slippery Rock 70s is just the kind of odd concoction you got in the 1970s from Joe Meek freaks who recorded records in their front room. This song was in fact a novelty instrumental inspired by the band's own pseudonym group Lieutenant Pigeon (a novelty side project which featured odd instrumentals, and one of the group member's mother in the band, all of whom were riding high in the UK charts at the time with another odd instrumental tune called Mouldy Old Dough).
Two of my favorite tracks are saved for the last two tracks on the compilation. Fancy's Wild Thing is a wild early 70s glam take on The Troggs' tune - miles away from any version of that song, combining glam chanting male background vocals, Gary Glitter rhythm, sensual female lead vocals and chunky guitars. I suppose it's half way between Jimi Handrix, Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin and The Flying Lizards.
Fancy featured Mike Hurst (a member of The Springfields with Dusty Springfield, as well as a busy man working with the likes of Marc Bolan, Cat Stevens, Manfred Mann, The Move, Spencer Davis Group, Colin Blunstone, Chris Farlowe and P.P. Arnold) along with Ray Fenwick (also a member of the the post-Stevie Winwood lineup of the Spencer Davis Group) and Alan Hawkshaw (of hammond organ, music library fame and session musician for Dusty Springfield, Donovan, The Tremeloes, Marmalade, Los Bravos, and Georgie Fame; whose work can also be heard on the RPM disc Mo'Hawk Mood Mosaic Vol. 7).
The set closing track is the kid rocking stomper Kick Out the Jams by Tubthumper - two and a half minutes of thumping beat, power saw guitar riff and chanted vocals.