Wired Up!: Glam, Proto Punk, and Bubblegum; European Picture Sleeves 1970-1976: By Jeremy Thompson and Mary Blount By Billups Allen

Nov 27, 2012

When it comes time to use a phrase more specific than “proto punk,” lines sometimes blur at the seam of what is glam and what is power pop. Wired Up! is an excellent clue to why that is. It’s a beautiful volume of pictures of record sleeves released in Europe during the years leading up to the word “punk” becoming a brand. Uncommon versions of singles from bands like The New York Dolls are mixed in among so many obscurities that you would have to quit your job to hunt them all down.

And looking at the book makes you want to. It is hard not to wonder what a leather crusader like Pantherman’s singles sound like. You can still find the seminal glam band Mud’s material, but Zenda Jacks “Rub My Tummy” does not come up as easily. Better-known bands like Suzi Quatro and Slade put the six years the book covers in perspective nicely.

These singles were produced at a time when the art had to convey the wild side when the wild side was not for sale at the mall. Musicians were left to come up with their own concepts, costumes, and hairdos. Contained in the pages is a dense tome of young people having young fun.

Some of the clothes in this book make Blowfly appear conservative. The band pictures are often embellished with stars and swooshes of color that ride the line between record art clichés and something you would seriously consider hanging on your wall. The fonts alone are worth the price of the book.

The only downside is the questions raised and not answered. Children Of The Morning’s single is called “Ku KluxMan.” Is it a white power thing, or just an ill-conceived concept record? I may never know the answer to that. How did The Streakers come up with their album art? The answer there is a little more obvious.

It is a fun book full of obscurities you may never come across. Like looking through a stack of overpriced records, the desire to hear more is overwhelming. The book includes several interviews with unheralded glam/power pop veterans including Milk And Cookies’ bassist Sal Maida and Jook’s Chris Towson. The interviews are excellent companions and give you a taste of the time. It’s an extensive collection of art that tells a rock’n’roll story. –Billups Allen (wiredupbook.com)