Gary Glitter

Gary Glitter's Gangshow: The Gang, The Band, The Leader

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His greatest hit, his will and testament, and the song that ensures he will always be remembered long after his transgressions are forgotten, Gary Glitter's "Rock & Roll" is important because of its lyrics. And those lyrics, the most joyful, meaningful, and utterly, defiantly, triumphant lyrics in the entire history of modern music, go "rock & roll, rock & roll, rock & roll, rock & roll." That's part one, anyway. Part two is even better. That one goes "hey, hey, hey, hey, hey." Who needs "awopbopaloobop"? Who cares for "since my baby left me"? And who can even understand half of what Bob Dylan writes? Talk about rock & roll, and you only need to say one thing: "Rock & Roll." Recorded in 1988, Gary Glitter's Gangshow, the unlikely superstar's second live album, opens with "Rock & Roll," then reprises it midway through. The first version is his band alone -- alone, that is, aside from several thousand gig-goers, their voices raised in adoring welcome for the man in the silver jumpsuit. The second one is quieter, gentler, a moment of acoustic calm amid an increasingly turbulent sea of electricity. But both are moments of undiluted magic. If you never saw Gary Glitter live, you might as well be dead, and if you can sit through this album without a flicker of excitement, you probably are. As a recording artist, Glitter peaked in the early- to mid-'70s. As a public figure, he crashed and burned in the late '90s. But through the '80s, his live show was second to none, an unapologetic extravaganza that swung from delirious celebration to mawkish sentimentality without a care in the world. One moment he'd be gyrating obscenely, thrusting forth his crotch and demanding, "Do you wanna touch me THERE?" The next he'd be shedding uncontrollable tears, hurling roses to the audience and insisting "I Love You Love Me Love" forever. And though he'd done it every night, you knew he meant every word. All the major hits are here, replayed with precision and bellowed back at Glitter by a fan club that knows every "hey." Choice album cuts surface, and a handful of new songs, too. It doesn't matter what he plays, the audience sings them all and Glitter plays their enthusiasm like a's December 24, so there's a triumphant "Another Rock & Roll Christmas"'s Glasgow, so there's a heartstopping "Scotland the Brave"'s the end of the show, and "I Love You Love Me Love" is so magnificent that the crowd is blubbering as loudly as the leader. And again, they meant every word.

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