I don’t know if the buying public's love affair with late-eighties hair metal is being rekindled solely due the success of The Darkness, or whether it's just becoming the done thing to plunder the back catalogues of the likes of Motely Crüe and Poison. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and really, once 'Permission To Land' went platinum, we should’ve seen The Glitterati coming.
For those who’ve never heard of them, The Glitterati are a five-piece glam metal band from Leeds, who’ve been billed as the UK's answer to Guns 'N Roses. This is a pretty bold statement to make, especially when you consider that three of the Gunner's alumni are still plying their sleaze-metal stock in trade with Velvet Revolver. It's also a comparison that doesn't stand up in the cold light of day, but we'll get to that in a minute.
If it's accepted that at this stage all guitar-driven rock music is to some degree derivative, then one of the ways in which the genuinely talented distance themselves from the hack filth is by the assimilation of their influences. For example, while it's possible to draw a line from Bloc Party to bands like XTC, The Police and even Joy Division, you could never claim that any of the tracks on 'Silent Alarm' sound like they’ve been filched from an early eighties release.
By contrast, the Glitterati's scuzzed up sleaze-rock debut sounds dated enough to warrant suspicion it may have been found in a time capsule that was buried in 1989. Helped in no small part by G'NR knob twiddler Mike Clink, John Emsley's and Nic Denson's guitars practically channel the spirit of the late-eighties Sunset Strip; I'm willing to bet money that these guys play their instruments slung somewhere around their knees, with legs akimbo.
This may be something of a backhanded compliment, I guess, even though next to the leading lights of cockrock, The Glitterati come up short. And while comparing today’s young-an’-fast to the originators of this type of music might seem unfair; when a band purloins the sound of the past so completely, they lay themselves open for it. Suffice to say that on the evidence here, The Glitterati aren’t a tenth of the band G’NR were in their prime, although if this album had been dropped twenty years ago, it might have given Skid Row a run for their money.
That having been said, The Glitterati's best songs are their flat-out rockers; when the band ratchets up the volume there's fun to be had, albeit in short bursts. Tracks like 'Betterman', 'Heartbreaker' and 'First Floor' snarl and burn their way out of the speakers with gleeful hedonism. They all go nowhere fast, but who cares when you've got power chords, drums and an overdrive pedal, right?
The band's main problem, is that more often than not, the music takes a back seat to the lyrics which are at best vague and at worst inane. When they aren't totally self-absorbed, songs revolve around requests for sex, drugs and all things rock & roll. There's nothing wrong with these sentiments - fuck it, AC/DC built a career out of shit like this - but vocalist Paul Gautrey expresses them in the most crushingly obvious way. Axl Rose's lyrics may have revealed him to be a misogynist, and a homophobe, and possibly even a racist, but next to Gautrey he comes across like William Wordsworth. And I haven't even mentioned the ballads yet.
The past is never off limits – indeed it's a massive source of inspiration. But a lesson The Glitterati would do well to learn is this; if you’re going to a bank a future on dusting off an old idea, you better be able to bring something new to the table.
1Nick Cowen's Score