Brian Protheroe Pinball 45 (Chrysalis, 1974)

For a genre that had a relatively short fertile period (1971 - 75), glam rock has a wealth of good songs. The ones we know tend to be the hits and/or are by artists who had careers that went beyond glam (Roxy Music, Bowie, Slade, T Rex - to name four). While Euros got exposed to a healthy dose of glam on the radio and TV (and thus know more of the music's wealth), Americans were not so lucky. Instead of glam, the dominant early 70s music genre was California Cocaine/singer-songwriter/country rock. Commercial heavy metal and blues rock also had a footprint in the States. While Bowie and Alice Cooper got play, to Middle, Suburban, and Working Class America glam rock was Fag Rock. Much was made of Bowie's professed bisexuality and anyone who grew up in the Seventies know at least one variation of the Glam Star Gross Out Contest story (one version: Alice Cooper and David Bowie had a gross out contest. Cooper took a shit on stage and rolled in it. Bowie drank a quart of cum and had to have his stomach pumped. Bowie won). Though Alice Cooper was indeed a star in America, glam didn't really have an American, monster-sized success until KISS came about and they didn't reach their highest high until after glam peaked (and one could argue that KISS were more of a bubblegum heavy metal band than glam, but that is an argument to be waged by those on the web and bored at work). In that landscape many glam artists escaped American notice. And if the musician in question tended toward the mellower side of glam, even the Euros passed them over. One of my favorite favorite examples is David Werner, whose Whizz Kid is a widely unrecognized classic. Another one is Brian Protheroe's Pinball.

Released in 1974, Pinball was a very minor hit (number 22 for a week) in the UK. It had no chart action in the US. It is the title cut of an album also called Pinball, which like the non-hit single tends toward the quiet, introspective side of glam. Protheroe did two more albums and they stiffed harder than his debut. One of the reasons for Protheroe's lack of success is that he was at heart an actor and would rather spend his time on stage doing Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Pinter than playing the ol' sing song. Thus Pinball, as his other records, was made between acting gigs. Protheroe's last big theatrical splash? He played Saruman in The Lord of The Rings.

Lead off track on Zig-Zag. A good one. ...which you can still find for less than two bucks.
Wait a minute, Saruman was played by Christopher Lee wasn't he? ( kinda looked like Sky Saxon I thought. . . ) Confused of Cambridge. I bought this single when it came out for some reason. I liked it, probably ;-) Thanks for the reminder. There was short piece on it in Mojo a while back. he really did have bees in his bathroom apparently . . .
Thanks so much! Once this song started, I realized that I had heard it in grad school and not in many decades. Songs are like smells. You can not sense them for many years and completely forget about them, but when they come back, they bring along all sorts of associations. I will be going back through your archives. Forgive the obvious, but the tubes of the internets is amazing.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?