music of my mind (whether I like it or not)

Since the age of 13 or so, music has been an important part of my life. I have written about it for various places, including here, here, here, here and, um, here, but more than that, I listen to music that I don’t have to write about pretty much every day.

I was going to write something about my favourite songs or whatever (and may do still), but thinking about it made me tune into the music that plays in my head, almost constantly and seemingly involuntarily, as the general background to my day. Involuntarily, because when tuned into, it becomes obvious that quite a bit of it is stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily listen to at all. Trying to keep track of the music of your mind is difficult though, because as soon as one focuses on it, one begins to/you begin to – that is, in my case I begin to influence it. Even when it is music that you like and listen to by choice, it’s rarely anything that seems specific to the present moment in a movie soundtrack kind of way – at the moment for instance, it’s Deirdre by the Beach Boys. It’s January (cue January by Pilot – sometimes the conscious mind and/or context does influence these things), so not really a season associated with the Beach Boys, I’m not especially in a Beach Boys kind of mood, I don’t know anyone called Deirdre; but the subconscious mind has determined that that’s what we are playing right now. Playing, but also listening to; it’s peculiar when you think about it.

Though the trombone on Deirdre (which I love) prevents it from being a “cool” choice, this could of course be an opportunity to display cooler-than-thou hipsterism, but as you’ll see in the (mostly DON’T) playlist below, lack of conscious control seems to equate to lack of quality control too. With that in mind, I won’t include things that popped into my head fleetingly, like the immortal  Everybody Gonfi Gon by 2 Cowboys or jingles from advertisements by Kwik Fit (or, more locally, Murisons, whatever that is/was). Not that the songs below have all appeared in their entirety – in some cases I don’t even know the whole song, in several I only know a few lines of the lyrics. So anyway, here – as comprehensively as I can make it – is what I have “heard” today, with notes where there’s anything to say and concluding thoughts at the end…

The 5th January 2023 being-playedlist – *warning* contains actual songs

Thank You for Being a Friend (Theme from the Golden Girls).

I have no idea where this came from or why I should apparently be thinking of it, but it’s been a regular on the ‘playlist’ this week. I’ve noticed that some songs stay in rotation for a while, sometimes evolving along the way. A key feature of these kinds of songs is that the ‘voice’ your brain chooses for them and the lyrics etc might be quite different from the real ones, especially when it’s a song you don’t actually know the lyrics of. I haven’t seen The Golden Girls for decades, or heard the theme tune (I included the video without playing it), so this seems an especially odd one. But perhaps it’s an early morning thing; while writing this it occurred to me that the theme from Happy Days has been popping into my head in the shower a lot recently.

Wham! – Last Christmas

It feels like extremely bad taste to be subjected to one of my least favourite festive songs, after Christmas, especially since I seem to have successfully avoided this one last year – but oh well, something in the Golden Girls theme apparently suggests it, since they tend to occur together.

Frank Sinatra – Young At Heart

I’ve never intentionally listened to this song, but I guess it’s part of “the culture.” But at least it’s less mysterious than the Golden Girls theme; on my early morning walk there’s a creaky gate that makes a note that somehow puts this song in my mind, though it took me a few days to realise that’s what was happening.

Magnum – Just Like an Arrow

I like this song – and cheesy 80s Magnum generally – a lot, but it’s another one I haven’t intentionally listened to for a long time. Maybe this is my brain’s way of telling me to revisit it?

Jim Diamond – Hi Ho Silver

Still stuck in the 80s, but this time in the company of a song I loathe and detest; why brain, why? Isn’t this another one that’s TV-related in some way? John Logie Baird has a lot to answer for, clearly

Men at Work – Down Under

*Still* in the 80s, but at least it’s a song I don’t dislike. I’m not sure if I’ve ever deliberately listened to this song (you didn’t need to “back in the day”, you heard it everywhere) but it’s been a regular visitor to my brain for many years. There was even a harrowing few weeks (or months – it seemed like a long time) – when it formed a weird medley in my mind with Paul Simon’s Call Me Al (one of the few of his songs I actually dislike). Except that Call me Al had different lyrics at various points. I remember that the flute (recorder?) part of Down Under came in just after the last line of the chorus. Since that time, whenever I’ve heard that song I’ve been half-surprised that the segue doesn’t happen.

The Supremes – Baby Love

At least most of these are cheerful songs I guess? This one always makes me think of that objectively quite strange scene in Quentin Tarantino’s (in my opinion) best movie by miles, Jackie Brown

Mull Historical Society – Barcode Bypass

Oh well, they can’t all be cheerful. I’m guessing the opening line “let me get my gloves/and walk the dogs for miles” has something to do with the inclusion of this one. I like it, but the weary melancholy is not at all the mood of most of these.

Slayer – Raining Blood

???Why not, I suppose?

King Crimson – Fallen Angel

Mysterious: I like bits and pieces of King Crimson but I’m surprised to find that I know this song at all, since I don’t even own the album it’s on (Red, 1974) or any compilations etc. I wonder how I know it? I had to look it up from a fragment of lyric that I knew, but sure enough, it’s Fallen Angel. I thought the only song of that title that I knew was the arguably superior one by Poison, but that’s an argument for another day

Souls of Mischief – ’93 ‘Til Infinity

What this has to do with anything is anyone’s guess; I like it, it’s a classic and all, but I think I heard an alarm of some kind in the distance that somehow morphed into that noise in the background during the “Dial the seven digits” bit. But more importantly, is Tajai really wearing a cricket jumper? And if so, how come he looks cool doing so?

Which brings us up to date and Deirdre: but what other wonders lie ahead?

The Beach Boys – Deirdre

Conclusion: Hm. I don’t know: the subconscious mind is almost a separate entity with different and broader tastes than its conscious host? Or it has a masochistic streak? Or absorbing decades of unwanted stimuli from pop culture means that there has to be a continual processing (with some regrettable but hopefully harmless leakage) in order to function in any kind of normal, rational way, like an overspilling of the dream state into the waking one? Or maybe the brain is constantly making observations and connections that are necessary for its normal functioning (things like intuition and mood) but which the conscious brain has little or no access to except in this oblique way. A lot of this stuff is from the 80s, when I was growing up and absorbing knowledge etc: whatever; being human is strange sometimes. Hope you’re enjoying whatever your brain is treating you to today!

For Whom The Cowbell Tolls…


Thanks for this article are owed to Jamie Cowey (for the title) and the anonymous person whose enlightening comments on my original version of this have been incorporated into the section on Honky Tonk Woman


The cowbell has presumably been part of the percussionist’s arsenal since early in the Jazz period, but it really came into its own in the 60s and 70s; but that’s not what this is really about.

‘Cowbell rock’ is, as well as being a hugely irritating electro classic by Pyramyth, almost a genre of its own, and this is a brief (mostly unresearched, therefore probably mostly wrong) glance through it.The obvious disclaimer here is that rock comes from blues  and R&B music and therefore the true history of the cowbell in popular music should feature many more black musicians than are included here. But this isn’t a true history of anything really.

There are notable uses of the cowbell in mid-late 60s pop and rock, notably The Beatles’ Drive My 1 beatlCar (1966), which perhaps surprisingly prefigures the genre with its funky soul influence.  The Spencer Davis Group’s equally soulful Gimme Some Lovin’ (1966) also features possible cowbell* although to my ears it sounds more like a tambourine. *see note on Honky Tonk Woman below

Iron Butterfly’s psychedelic rock monster In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida  is often cited too (including by me elsewhere), though a proper listen to the song reveals that although there may be cowbell there (and it is certainly implied by the beat etc) it mostly sounds like straightforward snare/toms.

So to me (and I am happy to be put right on this), the art of true cowbell rock begins…

The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women (1969) –  before anything else, the intro is purely cowbell 2 stoneand from then on the song establishes cowbell rock;  a rocking, yet laidback beat that holds everything else together. It was to prove hugely influential on the rock of the 70s and every revival thereof up until the present day. Interestingly (this is the part alluded to in the introductory note; thanks anonymous person), it is most likely erstwhile Spencer Davis Group producer Jimmy Miller, rather than the undoubtedly brilliant Charlie Watts, who plays the cowbell.


The 70s was the cowbell era and the classics are many and (to a degree) varied:

3 freeFree – All Right Now (1970) – picks up where Honky Tonk Women left off, with even bigger gaps in the riff; more room for cowbell.  Most of Free’s early work should really be in the ‘implied cowbell’ list below



Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane (1970) – an honorable mention really;  the cowbell (if there is 4VUany) is not very audible but this should be a cowbell classic based on the riff alone (more such nonsense below).





5sladeSlade – The Bangin’ Man (1974) – a tongue in cheek, slightly sad song, seemingly alluding to the memory problems the great Don Powell suffered when recovering from a  horrendous car crash; but his  drum/cowbell playing here is peerless.



David Bowie – Diamond Dogs (1974) – the sleazy death throes of Ziggy provide the

6bowieperfect backdrop for some classic cowbell courtesy (I presume) of the great Aynsley Dunbar. Interestingly, Bowie’s flirtation with cowbell rock outlasted his glam period; check out the Young Americans-era outtake I’m Divine for some classic cowbell with more of a funk flavour.


7 the nazNazareth – Hair of the Dog (1975) – basically a compendium of everything cheesy-but-good about mid-70s hard rock; and they came from Dunfermline!




Kiss – Calling Dr Love, Ladies Room, Take Me etc (1976) –  Presumably Peter Criss got a new 8 kisscowbell in 1975/6 because it’s all over the classic Rock & Roll Over album (released November 1976), giving it a looser, warmer feel than the also great but clinically orchestrated Destroyer (released March 1976, shockingly; When they were good, they were productive!)



BOCultBlue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear The Reaper (1976) – the tempo is slightly too frantic to be classic cowbell rock (though the cowbell is very audible!), but this has to be mentioned thanks to the excellent Saturday Night Live sketch with Will Ferrell.


Aerosmith – Last Child (1976) Many early Aerosmith classics have implied cowbell (see footnote),aerosmith but this slow & dirty-sounding masterpiece has the real thing.


warWar – Low Rider (1975) – somewhat out of genre being funk, but this song belongs in any discussion of the cowbell in popular music. I’m sure Funkadelic must have used it too, but nothing comes to mind so I’ll leave that for now…

Beyond the 70s there’s still plenty of cowbell action but on the whole not in the classic mould, but a few nice examples are:

Motley Crue – Wild Side (1987) Tommy Lee is not as good a drummer as he or his fans think he is but although he doesn’t use the cowbell properly here, he uses it well.


AC/DC – half of their songs (you would think, examples are rarer than one would hope), they kind of built a career on it.


Pixies – U-Mass (1991) Who’d have thought? But they do it well.


Nowadays there’s probably more cowbell rock than ever, but as far as I’ve heard it’s mostly a purely retro/pastiche/tribute thing so  worthy of consideration, but not here…



The list of songs that are, to all intents and purposes ‘cowbell rock’ but have little or no actual cowbell is distressingly long; someone should add some posthumous cowbell to these at the very least:

Edgar Winter’s White Trash – Give It Everything You Got  (1971) Dirty, nasty, gritty, funky rock, oddly the intro is kind of Stooges-like, but anyway; no cowbell.



Black Oak Arkansas – Hot And Nasty (1971) – The title says it all. Would have been hotter and nastier with cowbell though

Alice Cooper – Be My Lover (1971) – Great anyway, but how much greater would it have been a tiny bit slower and with


ZZ Top – Waitin’ For The Bus  (1973) It nearly has cowbell on it. Let’s just pretend it does.


Foghat – Slow Ride (1975)  – come on, this blues rock classic has everything except the icing on the cake; where’s the cowbell Roger?


Ted Nugent – Cat Scratch Fever  (1977) – same principle as above, maybe Ted is too much of a guitar guy to care about getting the percussion right? Ditto Stranglehold, but that said, I haven’t heard a huge amount of early Ted,  isn’t there bound to be at least one cowbell anthem in that oeuvre?

Whitesnake – Come An’ Get It  (1982) – Whitesnake’s work is a bridge between 70s rock and the harder, more modern 80s version; this would have been a tiny bit better with cowbell though, no?


Judas Priest –  You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ (1982) – The beat is right, Rob Halford gives the perfectly assured performance the song needs, but Dave Holland does everything right except play the cowbell; possibly they wanted to distance themselves from the 70s at this point

Manowar – Metal Daze and  Shell Shock (1984) Great, great testosterone fuelled nonsense/genius, the former song may have to be featured in a ‘best notes ever hit by a vocalist’ article at some point. But should have got out the cowbell guys; not metal enough I expect.

The Rolling Stones – Start Me Up (1981) and The Cult – Love Removal Machine (1987)  The same song, more or less. Both bands forgot the cowbell though.

In fact, The Cult’s transformation from moody goths to leather-clad rock gods was generally lacking in cowbell, despite the potential of songs like the awesome-anyway Wild Flower. That does however have some tambourine or something similar on the choruses to give that faux cowbell flavour.The-Cult-Electric-Press


Overall though, it is the 1970s that is the true era of the cowbell, and this is all just the tip of the iceberg. One of the great things about 70s rock is how much of it there is – and surely there must be many cowbell classics lurking out there, just waiting to be rediscovered by modern ears…


Copy? Compliment? Coincidence? Incestuous album covers!

Firstly; if you’re looking at this because of the word ‘incestuous’, shame on you! Anyway, for a variety of reasons, lots of album covers seem to pay tribute to/copy/look like lots of other ones, which is what this is all about.

In the early days of shellac and then vinyl records the sleeve was mainly used to advertise either the record label or sometimes the retailer of the disc within.


But this isn’t a history of picture sleeves, interesting though that would be. Once there were music stars who people recognised the faces of, the sleeve became a promotional tool in a far more specific way than before. The main reason initially for ‘lookalike’ sleeves was presumably that artists and/or record labels hoped (and still do) that something that worked for someone else will work for them, artistically and financially and possibly creates a link between the artists in the buyer’s mind. Then there are those who sincerely wish to pay tribute to one of their influences, those who are just unconsciously doing so, and those artists who share a background in a genre/culture etc, and…. well; lots of reasons. Some examples…

1. Blondie – Blondie (Private Stock, 1976) & Kim Wilde – Kim Wilde (RAK, 1981)

By 1981, Blondie were no longer a cult, punky act, but international superstars. What better inspiration for a kind of pop pastiche of the new wave sound?  In comparison with Blondie, Wilde’s first album is pretty pretty weak, though it does have some great songs on it; if you think Kids In America is great.

2. Kiss – Destroyer (Casablanca, 1976) & Manowar – Fighting the World (Atco, 1987)

Kiss were tongue-in-cheek cartoonish macho hard rock. Manowar were cartoonish macho metal that was either so completely tongue-in-cheek that they refused to acknowledge the humour of their whole image or else were deadly serious, which is kinda scary; but either way pretty ace. Consciously or not, surely a manly tribute to ‘the old gods’

3. Elvis Presley – Loving You (RCA Victor, 1957) & many, many others including Fabian – The Fabulous Fabian (Chancellor, 1959) and Bryan Ferry – These Foolish Things (Virgin, 1973)

Right from the start, Elvis’ album covers were to create the iconography of pop/rock music, imitated for commercial reasons by his imitators & later paid homage to by artists who grew up with Elvis as the face of rock ‘n’ roll (see also Elvis’ debut album & The Clash’s London Calling)

4. Joni Mitchell – Blue (Reprise, 1971) & Marianne Faithful – Broken English (Island, 1979)


Probably coincidental, but both albums are the definitive releases of iconic female singers & were to an extent departures from their previous work, both are good and both pictures are blue innit. Also, although they are both self-consciously posing for a picture, neither artist was concerned with trading on their looks in the way that record labels have traditionally done with both female and male artists (see Elvis etc) from the 1950s onwards.

5. Carpathian Forest – Through Chasm, Caves & Titan Woods (Avantgarde Music, 1995) & Wongraven – Fjelltronen (Moonfog, 1995)


Not exactly a coincidence; both bands used the same picture by Norwegian folkloric artist Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914), iconic in the black metal scene ever since his drawing Fattigmannen was adopted by Varg Vikernes for Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss in 1994

6. Jan & Dean and Friends- The Heart & Soul of Jan & Dean & Friends (Design Records, 1964) & Mel Torme – I’ve Got The World On A String (Allegro, 1964?)


A strange one, presumably these were both budget releases & the labels sourced the attractive but irrelevant artwork from an image library.

7. The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Parlophone, 1967) & The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request (Decca, 1967)


A notorious pairing, the Stones, famously at a bit of a dead end, tried to emulate the feel & popularity of Sgt Pepper with the extremely lavish holographic (etc) artwork of Satanic Majesties, but it didn’t really work. A much better album than it’s reputed to be however.

8. David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (RCA, 1973) & Jobriath – Creatures of the Street (Elektra, 1974)


It’s fair to say that Jobriath was influenced by Bowie in pretty much every aspect of his early recording career, but although Creatures… (mentioned elsewhere in this blog) is an interesting but not great LP, the front cover is, alas, just a little bit ridiculous by comparison with Bowie at his iconic peak.

9. The Byrds – Mr Tambourine Man (Columbia, 1965) & The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced (Track Records, 1967)

comp27This comparison really traces the advance of psychedelia from a mild distortion of perception to a neon-coloured hallucination over the two years 1965-67

10. The Smiths – The Smiths (Rough Trade, 1984) & UK indie music in general (here; The Wedding Present – George Best (Reception Records, 1987) & Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap (Jeepster, 1998)


The Smiths (mainly, one presumes, Morrissey) cared about the appearance of their records in a way that few artists have, and the relatively brief period of their recording career (83-87) means that their oeuvre has a unified completeness which is both rare and pleasing; presumably if they had gone on forever they would have tried something new at some point. The look (as well as the sound) of The Smiths had an immediate and lasting impact on the UK indie scene; although The Wedding Present (often characterised as the Smiths fans’ second favourite band)’s classic George Best doesn’t look especially like a Smiths album, the whole aesthetic seems to come from a similar (if slightly less glamorous) source. Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian seems to have, like Morrissey, a complete vision for the way his band should be and to date the B&S discography has a distinctive (and slightly Smiths-like) appearance. A good proportion of UK indie sleeves still have a very post-Smiths appearance (as does the output of the great My Little Airport from Hong Kong)

11.. Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast (EMI, 1982) & Megadeth – Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying (Capitol, 1986)


Iron Maiden’s Eddie has influenced the covers of thousands of heavy metal LPs throughout the 80s (and to the present day) but Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead is probably the most blatant homage & Peace Sells… is probably their best album cover of the era.

12. Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan (Columbia, 1962) & Donovan – What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid (Pye, 1965)


Despite their essentially very different styles, Pye Records was determined to use the surface similarities between the two young folksters to promote Donovan as the British Bob Dylan and to that end, What’s Bin Did… features an informal Dylanesque photo as its cover image.

13. Poison – Look What The Cat Dragged In (Capitol, 1986) & Dogs D’Amour – In The Dynamite Jet Saloon (China Records, 1988)


Although the rougher, more rock ‘n’ roll-glam oriented Dogs D’Amour were less influenced by Poison than bands like Tigertailz were, the layout of their least all-over-the-place album is, by accident or design, a scuzzy-glam echo of Poison’s more Hollywood-looking debut.

14. Randy Newman – Randy Newman (Reprise, 1968) & Elton John – Elton John (DJM, 1970)


It may be no coincidence that Elton John, with one not-massively-successful album behind him and a few years away from his outrageous glam-era costumes etc should seemingly model the cover of this, his breakthrough album, on Randy Newman; dour, unflamboyant , thus far critically and commercially neglected, but already an artist’s artist. It worked better for Elton.

15. Carnivore – Retaliation (Roadrunner, 1987) & Sodom – Persecution Mania (Steamhammer, 1987)


Presumably a coincidence, both of these albums are speed metal classics, although Carnivore are less well remembered than Sodom (who, to be fair are still going). The passing resemblance of these covers probably says as much about the atmosphere of the Cold War era as it does about metal.

16. The Beatles – With The Beatles (Parlophone, 1963) & The Nazz – Nazz (SGC, 1968)


As with the aforementioned Elvis sleeves, every picture of The Beatles in their early years was influential, and none more so than the cool, simple sleeve for With The Beatles. Even so, it’s somewhat surprising to see its influence lingering as late as the psychedelic era, when Todd Rundgren’s Nazz released their debut (which arguably is modelled on the early covers of The Rolling Stones as much as The Beatles. But then the early Stones albums wouldn’t have looked as they do without The Beatles either.

17. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (Rolling Stones, 1971) and Mötley Crüe – Too Fast For Love (Leathür Records, 1981)


Although only a passing similarity, Motley Crue inherited much of their spirit and attitude from the Stones and the cover of their debut is appropriately a more in-your-face updating of the classic Stones artwork.

18. David Bowie – “Heroes” (RCA, 1977) & Iggy Pop – The Idiot (RCA, 1977)


Not a coincidence, Bowie & Iggy Pop worked closely in their Berlin period & both were influenced by German Expressionism, here in particular by Erich Heckel’s painting Roquairol. Iggy’s album is a bit better than Bowie’s though; if only he had worked with Eno!

19. Kate Bush – Never For Ever (EMI, 1980) & Toyah – Anthem (Safari, 1981)


Anthem was probably Toyah’s best album; a nice mix of post-punk and new wave/synth pop influences, but despite her strong image she was never as individual or idiosyncratic as Kate Bush, although the fairytale-ish album cover suggests some similarity.

20. Charles Lloyd – Geeta (A&M, 1973) & Weather Report – Black Market (Columbia, 1976)


Charles Lloyd started out as a pretty standard post-Coltrane bop-saxophone player, specialising in ‘chamber jazz’, but by the early 70s he, like jazz in general, had become interested in fusion and elements of world music, reflected in the artwork for Geeta. That was pretty much where Weather Report came in, and although mostly Miles Davis influenced, Black Market has, coincidentally or not, a certain Charles Lloyd-ish quality.

21. Witchfynde – Give ‘Em Hell (Rondelet, 1980) & Venom – Black Metal (Neat, 1981)


More a case of shared influences than anything else, both Witchfynde and Venom came from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and had an interest in the occult and biker rock. Cheap, effective visuals were pretty much an essential part of the NWOBHM, with even early Iron Maiden artwork having a somewhat rough & ready charm.

22. Tigertailz – Young & Crazy (Music For Nations, 1987) & Britny Fox – Britny Fox (Columbia, 1988)


>It’s slightly unlikely that foppish Rococo glamsters Britny Fox would be influenced by Wales’ super-glam Tigertailz, but both bands, despite their idiosyncracies, were drawing from a pool of shared glamorous male influences, going back in pop music to the 70s, but historically back to 16th (and in the case of Britny fox, specifically the 17th/18th) century.

23. The Rolling Stones – Rolling Stones No. 2 (Decca, 1965) & The Dead Boys – We Have Come For Your Children (Sire, 1978)


Arguably the Stones cover here has its roots in With The Beatles, but the Stones brought their own surly charisma to the style and it was this that The Dead Boys channelled for their version of (in this case punk) rock, and the cover for their second album seems to pay homage to the Rolling Stones’ second.

24. Mayhem – Live In Leipzig (Obscure Plasma, 1993) & Darkthrone – Transilvanian Hunger (Peaceville, 1994)


Strictly this should be a comparison of Live in Leipzig with Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992), but although A Blaze... pre-dated the release of the Mayhem album (recorded in 1990), the cover picture of Per Yngve “Dead” Ohlin used for the release of Live in Leipzig was well known in the Norwegian black metal underground and indeed, photographs of early Mayhem were, despite King Diamond, Sarcofago etc, pretty much the basis for the 90s Norwegian black metal aesthetic.

25. Jobriath – Jobriath (Elektra, 1973) & David Bowie – Diamond Dogs (RCA, 1974)


Although it seems unlikely (to say the least) that Bowie would be influenced by Jobriath, there is a slight passing resemblance between the excellent, slightly creepy gatefold artwork of Jobriath’s much hyped but unsuccessful debut and Bowie’s superlative dark glam masterpiece; possibly more to do with a shared influence of traditions of depicting the male nude than anything else.

26. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust era appearance (1972-4) & Leslie R McKeown – All Washed Up (Ego Trip, 1978)


Although not based on any single image of Bowie, ex-Bay City Rollers frontman Les McKeown’s first solo album & singles showcased an image clearly based on the glam-era Bowie of a few years earlier.

27. Venom – Welcome To Hell (Neat, 1981) & Dødheimsgard – Monumental Possession (Malicious, 1995)


Hardly a coincidence; a large part of black metal’s satanic iconography was brought to the genre by its inventors, and the cover of Venom’s debut has been paid homage to by metal in general more times than almost any other image apart from Iron Maiden’s Eddie

28. David Bowie (again) – Space Oddity (RCA, 1972 reissue) & Marc Bolan & T-Rex – Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow (EMI, 1974)


It’s no surprise to see as visual an artist as Bowie featuring repeatedly in this list, but here he seems to have influenced his glam predeccesor and friendly rival Marc Bolan; Whereas earlier T-Rex albums had pioneered Bolan’s fey/fairytale glam image, by ’74 his music had become tired and limited (and ego-centric; T-Rex was now appended to the artist’s name rather than being an entity in its own right) in comparison with that of his old friend Bowie, and Zinc Alloy ( yep :/ ) was all-too-transparently influenced by Ziggy Stardust. The cover, however, seems more influenced by Bowie’s covers for Aladdin Sane and the glam-era reissue of his 1969 album, retitled Space Oddity. Given the slight deterioration of Bolan’s pixie-like charm, Zinc Alloy is unfortunately a less than bewitching or otherworldly sleeve.

29. Steeler – Strike Back (SPV, 1986), Helter Skelter – Welcome to the World of Helter Skelter (Metronome, 1988) & Pretty Boy Floyd – Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz (MCA 1989)


Presumably coincidence based on the common language of 80’s metal (but ultimately traceable back to Kiss in the mid-70s), both Helter Skelter and Pretty Boy Floyd’s late 80s glam-pop masterpieces have ludicrous paintings of the artists on them, very similar in style to German metallists Steeler’s 1986 opus Strike Back. Strangely, the Helter Skelter painting is by Games Workshop legend John Blanche, better known for the kind of dark fantasy images used in Warhammer etc (but also showcased on the cover of Sabbat’s classic UK thrash album History of a Time to Come.) The sleeve for Strike Back seems to be the first updating of this kind of thing since the classic Ken Kelly Kiss covers(!) from the 70s (see above).

30. Eric Carmen – Eric Carmen (Arista, 1975) & John Travolta – Can’t let You Go (Midland, 1977)


Ex-Raspberries frontman Eric Carmen’s debut solo album is best remembered for ‘All By Myself‘, but it was a strong album that revealed an excellent songwriter and performer with an eclectic range, from the Brian Wilson-esque ‘Sunrise‘ to the near-classical arrangement of that famous hit. John Travolta’s Can’t let You Go was released just as the young actor became a star with Saturday Night Fever and is, not surprisingly wet, bland, funky disco-lite with some soppy ballads thrown in. The covers of both albums showcase the sensitive (and in Travolta’s case, nakedly vulnerable) side of the young stars.

31. Cheap Trick – In Color…and in Black & White (Epic, 1977) & M

ötley CrüeGirls, Girls, Girls (Elektra, 1987)


Ten years on from Cheap Trick’s In Color… one of the great hard/pop-rock albums of all time, came one of Mötley Crüe’s best, at the time notable for a (slight) toning down of the band’s glam image. The Crüe cover lacks the humour of Cheap Trick’s (admittedly not really evident in the front image only; the back cover has the band’s two quirkier-looking members on non-motor cycles), but is iconic in its own decadent, 80s way….

32. Pink Floyd – Animals (EMI/Harvest, 1977) & The Orb – The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (Big Life, 1991)


An explicit homage, Dr Alex Patterson’s original vision for The Orb was inseparable from the psychedelic explorations of Pink Floyd. Admittedly, by 1977, the spirit of the prog legends’ optimistic experimentation had mostly evaporated, but the Animals sleeve, with its giant inflatable pig drifting over Battersea Power Station remains an iconic, dreamlike and good-natured image which, by 1991 seemed ripe for an update.

33. Genesis – A Trick of the Tail (Charisma, 1976) & FFWD – FFWD (Inter-Modo, 1994)


As with The Orb’s music above, FFWD (Robert Fripp, Thomas Fehlmann, Kris Weston, and Dr. Alex Paterson)’s 1994 ambient/prog/experimental album bears a resemblance (only slight in this case) to an album which was fundamentally different from the prog that inspired it. Indeed, the FFWD album seems to be influenced more by the ambient works of Eno than by a progressive band like Genesis (or Fripp’s King Crimson for that matter), but there is at times an atmosphere of pastoral whimsy that recollects the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis of Nursery Cryme or Foxtrot, far removed from the glossy, accessible rock of the Phil Collins-led Trick of the Tail. But that album’s cover has an archetypical prog feel, even if the album doesn’t, and so does the sleeve of FFWD.



Petty Obsession: Hair Metal you never hear in the movies



With the resurgence of all things 80s in the last decade, it was inevitable that hair metal would have some kind of renewed popularity, but even so, its respectability is surprising. Mötley Crüe for instance, seem to have far more credibility now than they did (in the UK at least) back in the 80s. Which is nice and all, but it’s a bit disappointing that posterity has largely selected the same tired selection of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Def Leppard & Bon Jovi songs as definitive of the era. Especially sad when there were so many great albums released that failed to have much impact, even the first time round. Such as…

Easy Action – Easy Action (Tandon, 1983)

This Swedish glam band was influenced by 70s glam rock and especially by Hanoi Rocks (look at the album cover) and featured singer Zinny Zan (later of Shotgun Messiah) and Kee Marcello, who would resurface a few years later in Europe. Pretty much every track is a perfect bubblegum glam masterpiece; so much so that Poison pinched the melody of ‘We Go Rocking’ for their own classic, ‘I Want Action’. There are two versions of this album; the original is the best as they re-recorded standout track ‘The End of the Line’ in a less good, slow version for the rerelease.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: All of them! (except maybe the somehow not-so-great opening track ‘Rocket Ride’)

D’Molls – Warped  (Atlantic, 1990)

D’Molls were from Chicago and their self-titled debut of 1988 featured a couple of truly great hair metal anthems (notably ‘D’Stroll’ and ‘777’) alongside a lot of forgettable dross. Not so follow-up Warped, which despite being released at the tail end of the glam era is as sleazy and catchy as ever, but with a lot more heart.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: several, including the great ‘My Life’ and über-ballad ‘This Time It’s Love’

Faster Pussycat – Faster Pussycat (Elektra, 1987)


If there was any justice in the world this album would be as well known as Appetite For Destruction – in many ways Faster Pussycat are similar to early G’n’R, but they have far more character and a kind of New York Dolls-ish soulful atmosphere which is admittedly less MTV-friendly than Axl and co. Taime Downe is, to my ears a far more likeable vocalist than Axl, and whereas G’n’R always seemed destined for stadiums, Faster Pussycat are more suited to the sleazy dive; and they sound all the better for it.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: take your pick – ‘Bathroom Wall’ or ‘Ship Rolls In’ would be as good as any.

Fastway – Treat or Treat OST (CBS,1986)

Fastway weren’t really a hair metal band; but (partly thanks to the movie it was written for) Trick or Treat is totally a hair metal album.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: They already were, but ‘After Midnight’ is a towering AC/DC style classic.



Glorious Bankrobbers – Dynamite Sex Doze (Planet, 1989)

It’s surprising that Swedish glamsters Glorious Bankrobbers aren’t better known; their version of hair metal is tougher and more rock ‘n’ roll than many of their contemporaries; far more in tune with modern taste in fact, being somewhat similar to bands like Duff McKagan’s Loaded (albeit with catchier tunes).

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Hair Down’, despite some fairly laughable lyrics.


Hanoi Rocks – Two Steps From the Move (CBS, 1984)

Hanoi Rocks were arguably the architects of hair metal; but they mostly weren’t actually metal at all, as this classic pop/rock album proves. 1983’s Back To Mystery City is even less hard-edged but just as good.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’ – the perfect hair ballad, or on a more classic hair metal note, ‘High School’



Dogs D’Amour – In the Dynamite Jet Saloon (China, 1988)

On the whole, UK glam bands tended to imitate the style and sound of their US counterparts, but the micro-scene that included Dogs D’Amour and The Quireboys had an altogether rougher, more shambolic (not to say drunken) atmosphere. The music was scruffier too; less metal, more romantic, but on this classic sophomore release Dogs D’Amour managed to keep it all together and produce a set of classic and predictably whisky-sodden rock anthems.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘How Come It Never Rains’ – simply a great, melancholy-yet-uplifting rock song.

Helter Skelter – Welcome to the World Of Helter Skelter (Noise, 1988)

SILLY but great, this album has more than its fair share of ultra-catchy, not at all heavy songs and one misleadingly hard rock opening song. The cover art is almost like a kids TV version of the Pretty Boy Floyd album. The band did in fact have a silly furry mascot.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: so many to choose from but today I’m saying towering feelgood anthem ‘Innocent Girls’


Kingpin – Welcome to Bop City (CMM, 1988)

kingpinThe best glam metal album ever? 100% glam and tacky and 100% metal, Kingpin was Zinny Zan’s follow-up to Easy Action. After the album bombed they relocated to the US, changed their name to Shotgun Messiah and re-recorded this same album in a slightly inferior form. They still weren’t massively successful though.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Don’t Care ‘Bout Nothin’ – but they are all appropriate



Anthem – Gyspy Ways (King, 1988)


Japanese glam, less well known than Loudness or E-Z-O but probably a bit better than both.


The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Midnight Sun’




Lion – Dangerous Attraction (Scotti Bros, 1987)

Strangely unknown album, full of great, classy hair metal, a tiny bit like Ratt, only marginally heavier.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘In the Name Of Love’





Madam X – We Reserve The Right (Jet, 1984)

Most famous as being the band where the Petrucci sisters (of Vixen) and Sebastian Bach (of Skid Row) started out, this album is essentially a hair metal cheese festival: great. Sadly, Sebastian was not in the lineup that recorded the album.


The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘We Want Rock’



Nasty Idols – Gigolos on Parole (HSM, 1989)



This slightly weak Swedish glam album is strong on attitude but sadly not songs; there are a couple of great ones though.


The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: Undoubtedly ‘Gimme What I Want’ – classic.



Phantom Blue – Phantom Blue (Shrapnel, 1989)


Quite heavy for a glam-ish album, this is simply excellent 80s metal made by glamorous ladies.


The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Why Call It Love’




Pretty Boy Floyd – Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz (MCA, 1989)

One of the all-time great hair metal albums; look at the cover! Plus, every song is a sleazy, feelgood anthem. They were just too late to be huge, but they should have been.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ALL OF THEM




Shout – In Your Face (Music For Nations, 1989)

If the idea of Christian hair metal seems anything other than genius to you then I pity you. Like all hair metal, Shout are inherently ridiculous, but take it to another level. At the same time, it’s just good; kind of Whitesnake-ish bluesy hair metal, with lots of heartfelt, nearly-but-not-quite-preachy lyrics.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Waiting’



Show & Tell – Overnight Sensation (Medusa, 1988)

Quite bad indie hair-metal but they WANT to be famous so badly that they can’t help being likeable. Plus they do have a couple of songs that survive the threadbare production values.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Hairspray Blues’




Sleeze Beez – Screwed, Blued and Tattooed (Atlantic, 1990)


 Very Americanised Dutch glam; and good stuff too, a bit like White Lion.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Stranger Than Paradise’





Tigertailz – Young & Crazy (Music For Nations, 1987)


The ultimate UK hair metal band. Despite their very MTV image there is a British tinge to their hair metal sound, kind of Duran Duran-meets-Motley Crue.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘She’z Too Hot’




Alien – Cosmic Fantasy (Ultranoise, 1984)


I don’t know much about Alien, but this is a very peculiar mini-album, a mix of classic hair metal and some spacey psychedelic bits – not great, but SOME of it is great.


The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’




Wrathchild (UK) – Stakk Attakk (Heavy metal records, 1985)

Complete trash with a 70s glam rock feel and some classic, basic anthems.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Trash Queen’





Coney Hatch – Friction (Vertigo, 1985)

Maybe more ‘melodic hard rock’ than true hair metal, but utterly 80s and very good, this album has a plethora of catchy, atmospheric tunes.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘The Girl From Last Night’s Dream’




Celtic Frost – Cold Lake (Noise, 1988)

Famously disastrous for Swiss black/death metal legends Celtic Frost, this is a uniquely dark & sleazy glam classic that sounds like no other.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Petty Obsession’




Nitro – O.F.R. (Rampage, 1989)

Hair metal taken to its farthest extreme, this is a horrendously overbearing album made by a group of over-talented music teachers. A headache waiting to happen, but it does have its moments.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Freight Train’