Oh! You Pretty Things review: The glam before the storm

Fri, Feb 26, 2021, 05:00


Oh! You Pretty Things – Glam Queens and Street Urchins 1970-1976

Various Artists

Grapefruit Records


For music fans of a certain age and disposition, Oh! You Pretty Things … goes some way to placing the pre-punk music scene in context, and even though it’s slanted more towards the UK than elsewhere (American acts New York Dolls, Jobriath, Lou Reed, The Stooges, Jayne County, Flamin’ Groovies are included) it gives a sense of a zeitgeist bubble waiting to burst.

For licensing reasons (presumably), David Bowie is missing, but his influence is visible in cover versions (Dana Gillespie’s Andy Warhol and Simon Turner’s The Prettiest Star). Early signs of future value are fascinating (England’s Glory featured a Velvet Underground-indebted Peter Perrett, who would subsequently form The Only Ones), but mostly this is a “Where are they now?” quiz. Music acts that flopped (Streak, Crushed Butler, Bearded Lady, Brutus) mingle with those that soared (Lou Reed, Sweet, Roxy Music, ELO, Slade, Thin Lizzy, Mott the Hoople, The Kinks) as well as genuine oddities (Michael Moorcock & the Deep Fix), but the fun is sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Such was the era, however, that of the 64 tracks here less than a handful feature women (solo or in a band – and, seriously, where’s Suzi Quatro?). Punk would help to correct that imbalance, but for the times that were in it, this was very much a bloke zone.