Alvin Stardust: magnetic albums

Alvin Stardust – Magnetic Albums


3CD | DL

Release January 14, 2022 – pre-order

New set which brings together the three albums of Alvin Stardust recorded for Magnet Records between the years 1973 and 1975. The revolutionary hit My Coo Ca Choo and the only top of the list Jealous Mind, as well as six other British pop hits. A plethora of bonuses and a sleeve booklet with detailed sleeve notes are also included. Ian Canty dons his brothel creepers in stacked heels

As Alvin Stardust, a bombastic rock’n’roll modernized by glam and carried to the ninth degree, did not exist in 1973, it had to be invented (Voltaire apologies). Songwriter Peter Shelley (not the frontman of the Buzzcocks, the latter went on to record hits with Gee Baby and the downright bizarre Love Me, Love My Dog) had recently founded the Magnet imprint with Michael Levy. What this new label lacked was a fashionable glam rock superstar to conquer the charts. The problem was that there wasn’t one readily available.

Shelley solved the problem by coming up with the name and concept of Alvin Stardust, drawing heavily on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album. His first activity was establishing the character parameters as a 1950s rocker dressed in refracted leather through glam, then he set out to write and record the song My Coo Ca Choo. This number had clearly been written everywhere and was quickly released as a single, with Pull Together on the reverse. He made slow progress at first and the fly in the ointment was that Alvin didn’t actually exist, hampering promotion. Shelley was unwilling to appear on stage as Stardust and after making a single appearance in a mask on Lift Off With Ayesha to hook up the record, Magnet looked for someone else to play the role.

At this point in the story, enter Bernard Jewry, aka Shane Fenton, a rock & roll journeyman born in Muswell Hill and raised in Nottingham. Under the latter name, he had some success with his band The Fentones in the years just before The Beatles forever changed the British pop scene, but he was destined to make the biggest impact by taking on the nickname Alvin. Stardust. His voice was able to come close to that of Shelley on the single, and, dressed in black leather like a space-age version of Gene Vincent, he also sounded in the role. With an Alvin Stardust now available for TV appearances, My Coo Ca Choo has taken the UK singles charts by storm at number two. From that point on, Bernard / Shane (I’ll call him Alvin to avoid confusion) lived the role, with a memorable, gloved Top Of The Pops spot sealing the deal.

Equipped with a photo cover of Alvin posing with a cat for some reason, the follow-up 7 ″ Jealous Mind did even better, topping the charts for a week in the 1974 New Year. The debut LP, The Untouchable Alvin Stardust, also reached the UK Top 5 around the same time. This record is The Magnet Records’ debut record, as well as a short but funny jingle designed to promote the second album (which probably would have made more sense on the second record) and the country hoedown B-side of the first single Pull Together. . The LP itself was primarily written by Shelley, with Stardust appearing on four numbers himself and Peter Goalby providing The Bump (which has nothing to do with Kenny’s song of the same name). While taking inspiration from the first wave of rock & roll to draw inspiration like much of glam rock, the album doesn’t take the easy route of simply updating cover versions of the 1950s to complete it. .

My Coo Ca Choo kicks off with a glitter enhanced bloom and is punchy enough for a pop tune as well. Be My Judy’s electrified cranky r & b is a goodie, and The Bump’s more earthy blues version comes through as a raucous element. It might seem like a step or two away from the overall theme and more towards the early ’70s hard rock, but it’s a pretty neat effort. Jealous Mind was a classy single, a tightening of the formula of its predecessor perhaps, but a good one that deftly married biting guitars and dance beat with Alvin’s honey-dripping vocal style. I’m In Love Again exploits an Alice Cooper / Stooges style attack that dives headfirst into the original rock & roll sound and it works wonderfully, and the following High Fever does a similar trick in a more understated way. Elvis Guitar Star’s wah-wah update concludes the album with a bang.

There is a bit of filler on this LP (the spotty country ballad You’re My Everything comes to mind), but for the most part it’s a very entertaining ride that delivers a big dose of real colorful fun to a music scene that was tempting to gradually shake off the hangover of the swinging 1960s. While obviously not in the Bowie / Bolan / Slade / Roxy league, The Untouchable is among the best of the rest.

The eponymous second collection continued the cat motif on its cover art and is reinforced on disc two of this set by seven bonus tracks, including the only single from Alvin’s live backing band, The Heartbeats. The LP itself followed the tradition of the first by having a scorching single as its opening track – this time it was the brilliant Red Dress 45. An imaginative, futuristic rocker with synth follies, he came as a proto-electropop Troggs and racked up another well-deserved blow. Combined with the punchy Heartbeat, this was a hell of a way to start another series of new tracks. Shelley and Stardust wrote the tracks for the most part, enlisting help from Dave Maynard and John Fiddy for only a few pieces.

The sappy ballad Where’s She Gone cuts the veils a little after this fast and thrilling opening. However, You, You, You, a lighter version of his trademark stomp that was another hit single, and Chilli Willi’s hard-hitting glam blues get things back on track. This latest song is performed in a screaming glam fashion in two parts by Alvin’s stage band The Heartbeats on their 7 “, and those two sides end this record. Sauter! And Shake On Little Roller are both convincing rock & roll upgrades, but Tell Me Why dates back more openly to its 1950s source, a slow directly influenced by doo wop. Despite this shift in focus, it still managed to carve out a place for itself in the Top 20 as a single First Train Out follows in a more subdued and vocally dominated style and before the great Blind Fool ends this second LP with only the slightest hint of glam’s flash in his edgy guitar line.

Alvin Stardust’s album got a bit lost as Christmas 1974 approached and, as a result, only entered the UK Top 40. Nonetheless, I found this set to be extremely enjoyable, probably the best in Stardust for me. The bonuses here pay off 45 setbacks and include the number eleven hit Good Love Can Never Die, a catchy pop tune imbued with a choppy beat. The energetic Go! is a highlight, and Route 66 is cleverly spoofed to include Newcastle and the A1 on a very ironic Roadie Roll On.

For Magnet Rock With Alvin’s latest collection, Shelley, the driving force behind the project, was now focused on her own solo career and stepped away from the team. As a result, the album falls back on a number of versions of rock & roll covers. It’s a bit of a disappointment after the first two LPs, but a completely understandable decision given the circumstances and the fact that the glam wave was rapidly receding in 1975. Roger Greenway stepped into the breach after Shelley’s departure and is responsible. at least part of most of the new material here, with Alvin himself writing the fast-paced blues rock for Come On (a different song than the Alvin Stardust album).

The album opens with two numbers that Eddie Cochran made famous and Twenty Flight Rock follows Stardust’s glam plan to the letter. Come on, everyone’s getting an unusual and funky read, and Cliff’s Move It gets a cranky overhaul for Alvin’s latest 1970s hit. The MOR Ballad Better to be cruel than kind is good, even if it isn’t. It’s not much of a shock to find out that she failed as a single. But the neat Angel From Hamburger Heaven surely deserved a better fate. Good Love Can Never Die in remixed form is included and the album ends with another funk number Never In A Million Years, which was millions of miles from Alvin’s heyday hits. It’s a weird record to be honest, but not without a certain messy charm.

A generous eleven bonus efforts complete the set of magnetic albums. They include the single Sweet Cheatin ‘Rita, the last breath of Stardust glam glory that preceded the Rock With Alvin album and roughly streaked in the UK Top 40, and Be Smart Be Safe, which is part of of a Green Cross Code campaign that had Alvin memorably addressing a couple of jaywalker kids with the words “you must be off your little minds” in a public information film. It of course comes with a lot of haunted ’70s novelty value that doesn’t mask what is a good slice of tough rock & roll headlong.

Weird choice of single, The Word Is Out is more of a good album track than a thing to ignite the charts, but it’s not bad at all and the folk rock of Growin ‘Up is certainly a little different. The same could be said for A Hobo’s Life, which has a light music box style, but Sweet Little Rock ‘N’ Roller, a 1979 hit for Showaddywaddy, takes us back to the 1950s with a glam beat sound. A boisterous cover of Jailhouse Rock is satisfyingly fresh and Love Is Real, which completes the set, is an interesting attempt to update Alvin Stardust’s sound for the late 1970s.

After Alvin left Magnet and glam rock was now completely over, he spent a few years in the doldrums. To his credit, he returned to score hits in the early 1980s, first on Stiff Records in 1981 with Pretend. Eventually that second wave of success wore off, but he still cut a career in presenting and acting on television. He also continued to perform on stage into the 21st century, showcasing his glamorous 70s image. Sadly, he passed away in October 2014, just as his first new album in decades was about to release. to go out.

While Alvin Stardust is an artificial construct to a certain extent and never threatens the “big guns” of glam, what is featured on The Magnet Albums is always enjoyable, cleverly crafted, and imaginative; especially given the narrow confines of the updated 1950s rock & roll upon which the project was built. The eponymous second album is probably the choice of the three, but The Untouchable follows it very closely. Singles are always a lot of fun, with at least three of them nailed down to classics and some of the B sides tinkering with the formula to produce impressive results. The booklet that comes with the set contains a very well-written and informative story of the germination of Stardust, and includes evocative photographs from magazines and covers of individual images. People talk about “guilty pleasures,” but there should be no shame in embracing Magnet albums, full of wonderful, surprisingly harsh and immediately enjoyable pop music.

Pre-order here


All of Ian Canty’s words – see his author profile here

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