Glitter Band

The Best of Glitter Band

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Seven chart singles. Three Top Five number ones and only one number two. Divorced from the hit machine that was bossman Gary Glitter, the story of the Glitter Band is one of those mid-'70s British glam rock sagas that seems far more impressive if you leave the statistics behind. There was, after all, a time when the group seemed positively inescapable -- switch on a European music show and inevitably they'd be there, meaty fists a-punching the sky, meaty drumbeats pounding your ears, and a chorus of "hey!"s that never seemed to end. It may come as quite a surprise, then, to learn that the common conception is so far from the truth -- as 25 tracks drawn from across the band's first three albums are quick to prove. Once past the hits (the first seven tracks here), any combination of songs could be considered representative, but as Glitter Band -- or even glitter era -- collections go, this one zaps the zeitgeist with unerring aim. The chest-beating chants are all here, of course, but so is a mighty sampling of the band's other side, the ballad and soft rock specialties which, in another time, another place, could have set them up as the English Eagles. In the event, of course, that job went to Smokie, but lovelorn epics like "Heartbeat to Heartache," "You Wouldn't Leave Me, Would You?," and the group's crown jewel, "Goodbye My Love," betray a romantic streak as wide as John Rossall's flares. Of course there's plenty of traditional fare here -- the incorruptible "Angel Face," the immaculate "Just for You," the late-in-the-day but laughing "People Like You, People Like Me," the band's pre-Hello take on "Tell Him," and "Game's Up" (but no "Makes You Blind," a skilful funk jam which almost caused an American hit). There's even room for their summertime flirtation with the Beach Boys' sound, as their own "Love in the Sun" and a luscious "I Can Hear Music" cover remind listeners that even English summers aren't perpetually damp. Of course The Best Of will not satisfy those doubting souls who have the Glitter Band pegged as a pointless extravagance, spun off from the mothership to milk an extra few bucks from the boppers. And it is also true that the sleeve photographs aren't exactly an encouraging invitation either. Did people really used to dress like that? And, even more pertinently, was there ever a time when fans thought they looked cool? But, if you already know what you're getting yourself into, the Glitter Band are well worth spending the rest of the evening with. As they themselves put it -- "Let's Get Together Again"!

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