351. ‘Always Yours’, by Gary Glitter

When I first saw Gary Glitter’s third and final #1 looming on my list, I assumed it would be a ballad. ‘Always Yours’. A Glitterballad. A cod-Elvis croonathon. I was bracing myself…

Always Yours, by Gary Glitter (his 3rd and final #1)

1 week, from 16th – 23rd June 1974

Except, it’s another foot tapper. Glitter clearly didn’t do ballads. (OK, he did, they just didn’t get to number one.) I’m getting Mud (the that’s me, that’s me lines are straight outta ‘Tiger Feet’) through Shakin’ Stevens vibes. Also, hints of Adam Ant. Considering that the latter two acts are a decade away from arriving on the scene, we can conclude that Gary Glitter was a bit of an influence. He wasn’t always, I have to keep reminding myself, just a creepy paedo.

You know, I know, I’ll never never let you go… It’s a frantic record that races through its three minute allocation. The glitter stomp drumbeat has been sped up to raucous rockabilly levels. There are handclaps, pianos, and Glitter’s frenzied vocals. He certainly was an energetic performer. Al-ways Yo-ours…

As with all his #1s, you don’t have to look very hard before finding lines that sound dodgy in hindsight. I’m a scream, A teenage dream… he yelps. Which is rich, coming from a man in his mid-thirties. We’ve come full circle, from the days of thirty-something Bill Haley rocking around the clock to Glitter and Alvin Stardust dancing about in sparkly jumpsuits. When the kids have moved on you know a style is on its way out…

But ‘Always Yours’ is a perfectly reasonable slice of late-era glam. It is undeniably catchy; though I would rate it worst out of his three chart-toppers. I had never ever heard it before, and I probably never will again without choosing to. I won’t be doing a Gary Glitter Top 10, or a Remembering Gary Glitter when he passes. He has been jailed for possessing child pornography, for child sexual abuse and attempted rape. We’ll leave him here. (Actually, not really. We’ll have cause to mention him when we arrive at a couple of 80s #1s.)

It is interesting, however. Why has Gary Glitter been so completely erased from British pop music history, when others with similar allegations to their name haven’t? Plenty of huge stars from the sixties and seventies have their accusers… Jagger, Bowie… while Pete Townshend got caught ‘researching’ a book on child abuse. They all still get played on the radio. Is it as simple as Glitter got convicted? Then there’s Michael Jackson. Again, no conviction, but enough evidence and testimony for us to conclude that something unsavoury was going on at Neverland. His music’s still played, for the most part. Phil Spector, currently in prison for murder, will have his Christmas hits played this year; Glitter’s ‘Rock n Roll Christmas’ will not be getting a spin.

Does it then, ultimately, come down to snobbery? Are we willing to overlook artists’ indiscretions, as long as they make ‘good’ music? Gary Glitter was always a bit of a prat, a clownish character, who released disposable pop music. Same goes, to an extent, for R. Kelly, who in recent years has undergone a similar cancelling. I’m not advocating a rehabilitation of Gary Glitter. He’s clearly a nasty piece of work. I’m just amazed at how sudden and complete his fall from grace was. Even in the mid-1990s he was being sampled by Oasis on the opening track of the decade’s biggest album. He was due a cameo in The Spice Girls movie, which had to be re-shot last-minute following his ill-fated trip to PC World. Then, cut. Finished. One of Britain’s biggest pop stars was Britain’s public enemy number one. That, as they say, was that.

340. ‘I Love You Love Me Love’, by Gary Glitter

Anyone fancy a slow dance under the mistletoe, with Gary Glitter…?

I Love You Love Me Love, by Gary Glitter (his 2nd of three #1s)

4 weeks, from 11th November – 9th December 1973

While that mental image takes its time to fade… We settle into a woozy, oozy, slightly boozy, electronic sax riff. (Do electronic saxes exist? If they do, then that’s what leading us on this romantic mystery.) The trademark Glitter drums are there, but slowed right down. They lumber, they plod, they drag you down into the treacle.

Gary’s girl’s parents don’t like him much… We’re still together after all that we’ve been through, They tried to tell you I was not the boy for you, They didn’t like my hair, The clothes I love to wear… Or maybe they were just good judges of character, Gary? Once again, it’s proving difficult for me to judge the man’s music without remembering what he was deep down…

It’s glam rock, but stuck in quicksand, or on strong, strong Quaaludes. I’m not sure I like it all that much, but it’s kind of mesmerising. By the end, it’s basically smothered you into submission. The distorted saxophones and the over-dubbed guitars give me hints of Wizzard but, if they were going for what Wizzard achieved with ‘Angel Fingers’, they’ve fallen well short. In fact, I think we can pinpoint here the exact moment that glam rock started edging from Bowie and Bolan to Mud and Showaddywaddy’s fifties pastiches.

I love you love, You me love me too love, I love you love me love… Adding to the hypnotic effects is that chorus, that title. ‘I Love You Love Me Love’… I mean… It’s like a magic eye picture. You stare at it, trying to work out what it means, where the comma should be, but you go around in circles… ‘I Love You, You Love Me… Love?’

Whatever. You can bet that boys and girls around the country were sidling up to one another in school gyms around the nation at the Christmas dances of 1973, for a shuffle and a snog to this disc. This record entered the charts at number one and, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know how rare an occurrence that was back then. It means Glitter joins Elvis, Cliff, The Beatles and Slade. We might want to forget he ever existed; but we have to note how big he was in this moment.

He has one more chart-topper to come in the new year, before we can move past this slightly awkward elephant in the room. ‘I Love You Love Me Love’ was the 6th best-selling single for the entirety of 1973, despite only being released in early November… But you won’t be hearing it on a radio anytime soon. (Though, if you did enjoy this song, as I think I did – I still can’t quite make my mind up about it – and want a guilt-free means of enjoying it, Joan Jett does a pretty faithful cover, with a video that is peak-1985.)

335. ‘I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am!)’, by Gary Glitter

I ended my last post by claiming that there was no way that this next #1 would be on Spotify, and that I would have to search the deepest recesses of the dark web to find it. Except. It’s there. On Spotify. So…

Ok. You have to type it in in full – the algorithm won’t suggest it to you – but it’s all there. Turns out that ‘hateful’ artists such as this one are ‘buried’ rather than ‘banned’. Which, I think, is the sensible approach to take. Gary Glitter won’t pop up unexpectedly in your party playlist – can you imagine! – but people with blogs in which they write posts on every UK number single can crack on happily.

I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am!), by Gary Glitter (his 1st of three #1s)

4 weeks, from 22nd July – 19th August 1973

I haven’t heard this song in years… I was in my early teens when the truth about Glitter came out. (For anyone who doesn’t know, he was found to have a lot of child pornography on his laptop, has since gone on to be convicted three times for rape and abuse, and has proven himself to be a pretty unrepentant paedophile.) But I can just about remember him being a celebrity… I have a particular memory of seeing him on Saturday morning kids TV, of all places, and of a schoolfriend’s parents being huge fans. (True story: his name was Gary, and he did not like it when you suggested which disgraced pop star he may or may not have been named after…)

Come on come on, Come on come on, Come on come on come on… Clap clap clap, stomp stomp stomp! It’s all coming back to me… This song was huge. And dammit… I am enjoying this song. I feel grubby saying it, but hey. When it comes to Gary Glitter and his three UK chart-toppers, I’m going to (try to) practise a clean separation of man and music. He is a terrible human being; this is a stupidly catchy pop hit. It starts with a motorbike revving, for goodness sake, meaning that in half a year we’ve had songs intro with air-raid sirens, anti-aircraft guns, and Harleys… What a time to be alive!

It is cheesy, though – towards the Mud and Showaddywaddy end of glam rather than the David Bowie and T. Rex. It’s dumb, it’s repetitive, trashy and disposable. It’s a series of chants rather than a thoughtfully put together song. He’s the leader, and he’ll make you sell your soul to rock ‘n’ roll… It’s glam reduced to its basics; but God if it isn’t an ear-worm. Is there any other genre with such different levels of taste and respectability?

D’you wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang… Oh yeah? I said I wanted to listen to this objectively, judging the music alone, but it is kinda hard when Glitter gives us lyrics like: I’m the man who put the bang in gang…! Jeez. You do start to wonder if he was hiding in plain sight all along. If glam rock, that most glorious of genres, was besmirched by a pervert who used the image – the mascara and, well, the glitter – to have his wicked way. Just ignore those thoughts and focus on the stomping beat – the so called ‘glitter-stomp’ – and the churning synthey riff that keeps the whole thing chugging along.

Like many glam stars, Glitter predated the movement by quite a distance, releasing several singles in the sixties – his earliest way back in 1960. He went through various name changes: Paul Raven, Paul Monday – his real name’s Paul Gadd – before settling on Gary Glitter. He even worked with George Martin! All of which meant he was almost thirty by the time he hit it big with ‘Rock n Roll Part II’ (the song that caused controversy last year when it was used in a scene in ‘Joker’.)

‘I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am!)’ was the culmination of this long-awaited ascent to pop stardom for Glitter, though he had already had #2 hits with ‘Hello, Hello, I’m Back Again!’ and ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me’ (a song it is impossible to listen to and not squirm, knowing what we know now…) He’ll go on to have two more chart-toppers in the next year. As uncomfortable as it is to discuss him nowadays; he was a big, big star, and a huge figure in seventies pop music.