“If you’re British, you’ve likely heard plenty of T-Rex in your time, maybe way too much. But over here in the Americas a track like Ride A White Swan never cracked pop radio back in the day, so it still retains the kind of freshness that turns heads, gets people nodding along, smiling, wondering, ‘Who is this?’ Like it was recorded last week, not better part of half a century ago. Still makes me smile pretty much every time I hear it, Marc Bolan’s oddly spry little ditty about skyways, sunbeams, druids and tatooed gowns. Some say it invented Glam. I ain’t arguing.” (Philip Random)
“The first time I heard Wayne (eventually Jayne) County’s Man Enough to be a Woman was at a punk bash, 1979 sometime. It showed up on a mixtape* somewhere in and around the Buzzcocks, the Ramones, Devo, maybe some Kinks. It was that kind of scene. I didn’t even like punk rock (yet), but the parties were always good. So here’s a hint, kids. If the party’s good, the music is too, in spite of what you’re so called ‘taste’, is telling you, because if you’re anything like me, your taste is shit until you’re at least twenty-one. But anyway, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs weren’t even punk really, just loud and proud and defiantly brave rock and roll tearing glamorous scars into the fabric of reality. *There was also some Abba on that mixtape.”
“A song with the word bitch in the title in 1971!? It wasn’t done (unless you were the Rolling Stones). And to be honest, I didn’t actually hear Queen Bitch until 1973. Just one more element of that tidal wave of brilliance and threat that kept coming our way with Mr. David Bowie‘s name attached in the latter part of the early 70s. Who was this stranger, this alien, this queen, this bitch? What the hell was going on? I was still fumbling around with puberty at the time. I believe it was exactly what I needed to hear.” (Philip Random)
“I think of Bogus Man as where Roxy Music would have gone if Brian Eno had never left: to stranger, deeper, more evocative realms, while great hordes of confused hippies looked on from darkened streets, still coming down from that long strange trip known as the 1960s. Which is rather what was going on anyway with Roxy in their early years, strutting like peacocks through a world full of pigeons. As it was, Bryan Ferry had other ideas for his band, and it’s not as if Mr. Eno didn’t go off and invent the future anyway. Which he’d be the first to say the Germans were already doing. Can in particular without whom we would never have heard the likes of Bogus Man.” (Philip Random)
“David Bowie at his rawest, glammest, most rockingest. The time I him do Cracked Actor live, he sang it to a skull, a cracked actor indeed. Or was he an alien? Aladdin Sane being the last of Ziggy albums that wasn’t all cover tunes. Either way, it was a harder rock than pretty much anyone was delivering at the time, except maybe Iggy and Stooges at the … and almost nobody knew they even existed.” (Philip Random)
More or less perfect modern pop from a more or less perfect moment in modern pop-time. Which is to say 1972, glam eruption. Except it’s wrong to classify Virginia Plain (or Roxy Music for that matter). Virginia Plain defies genre. It just is. Three minutes of pure, strange, driving fun. And thus a reason to live.
“David Bowie hits the 1980s in powerful form with Scary Monsters, blows minds and fuses across all known dimensions. But then that’s pretty much it. He’ll sell piles of records through the decade, make the cover of TIME magazine, and everything else for that matter… but he’ll never be truly monstrous or scary again. Which is either A. damned sad, or B. whatever. I mean, it’s not as if he hadn’t already given us way more than enough through the 1970s, from collapsing the hippie dream to unleashing his own personal alien glam supernova, onward unto cocaine bullshit, decadence, everything. But he always kept his cool even as he lost his mind. Did any other single artist come even close? Definitely no game.” (Philip Random)
In which Brian Eno kicks out some almost punk intensity dada circa 1974, at least two years before such aggressive tendencies would even begin to stick, culturally speaking. Though the surrealism of the lyrics suggests other more complex forces at work than mere punk anyway. Also, the yodeling.
“Tight, hard, fast, and looking very good – nobody else sounded or looked or felt remotely like Roxy Music in 1973. That would have to wait five or so years. Then all kinds of people were sounding, looking, feeling like Roxy Music (in 1973). Unfortunately, Roxy weren’t anymore. They were getting all smooth and white-boy soulful, turning into a creature I was fast finding it hard to love. But that was okay. I was really just discovering 1973 anyway, and it was all for my pleasure.” (Philip Random)