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Ghost Canyon

Title - The Magnet Albums [3CD]
Artist - Alvin Stardust

For those unaware, The Magnet Albums is a brand new 3CD and 54 track round up of everything recorded by 70s Glamster Alvin Stardust for Magnet Records.

Born Bernard Jewry in the East End of London in 1942, his hits included My Coo Ca Choo, Jealous Mind and I Feel Like Buddy Holly. Stardust grew up in Mansfield and started playing guitar as a schoolboy.

He met one of his biggest influences, Buddy Holly, at a gig in Doncaster and played backstage with the singer and his band the Crickets.

He signed his first record deal in 1961 as the frontman of Shane Fenton and the Fentones, though the band struggled to get in the charts.

In 1973 he signed with Magnet Records and took on the name that would make him famous.

It started off as Elvin Starr, because they wanted a kind of rocky, country name, he recalled in 2010.

But [a woman] who was doing promotion for us said it wasnít glam-rocky enough, so it became Stardust and then Alvin.

My Coo Ca Choo, the debut song under his new guise, peaked at number two in the UK singles chart.

Known for his rockabilly quiff, sideburns and black gloves, he projected a glowering persona he said he adopted because he was nervous and didnít want to be found out.

His success led to him being part of a Green Cross Code road safety campaign in 1976, which saw him instructing children to look both ways before they crossed the road.

That success continued into the 1980s with Pretend, I Feel Like Buddy Holly and I Wonít Run Away all making the top 10.

Once described as The Godfather of British Rock íní Roll by Rolling Stone Keith Richards, he made sporadic acting appearances in Hollyoaks, The Grimleys and Doctors.

He also appeared on stage in such musicals as Godspell, The Phantom of the Opera and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, in which he played the fearsome Child Catcher.

Phil Hendriks has supplied in-depth liner notes and the booklet also contains stacks of picture sleeves from across the globe plus memorabilia from the era.

CD 1: The Untouchable (1974)
1. My Coo Ca Choo
2. Be My Judy
3. The Bump
4. My Sweet Deutsche Friend
5. Jealous Mind
6. Dreambreaker
7. Iím In Love Again 8 High Fever
9. Dressed In Black
10. Youíre My Everything
11. Guitar Star
12. Pull Together [Bonus Track]
13. Alvin Stardust LP Jingle [Bonus Track]

Disc 1 features Alvinís debut album which reached #4 in the UK charts and includes the world-wide chart smash My Co Ca Choo (UK #2, Germany #3, Australia #1) plus his sole British chart topper Jealous Mind; which also hit #5 in Germany.

Looking back, itís hard to see what all the fuss was about. So he wore a tight leather catsuit. So he glowered a little and didnít like smiling. So he called his first album The Untouchable and he liked his girls to lie down and groove on the mat! That was still no reason to label him a deviant pariah and ban him from childrenís TV in case he scared the kiddies!

They did, though, and that wasnít the end of Alvinís travails. Less than six weeks after this album was released, the English city of Hull banned him from appearing in concert there, stating He is not the sort of act we want in Hull. And people thought the Sex Pistols had problems!

The Untouchable, this demonic entityís first album, confirms Hullís horrors from the cover on in. Stardust himself was soon to drop the Stygian armor and knuckledusters, but they hang on him here like a second skin. Thereís even a song about them, Dressed in Black, while a quick skim through the rest of the set raises other suspicions as well.

Who but a latter-day Mr. Punch would invite his lady to Be My Judy, while Jealous Mind, My Sweet Deutsche Friend, and High Fever are scarcely the stuff of girl meets boy-next-door fantasy either. And then thereís My Coo Ca Choo, a hit so pervasive that its churning, mysterious malevolence remains a palpable presence throughout the album.

Even when Alvin slips into brooding balladeer mode, to hiss-breathe the sibilant Youíre My Everything, the fear still haunts the back of your mind. Donít ever leave me, he quakes in a voice which is utterly unsuitable for such sweet sentiments, and is it simple paranoia? Or does he really leave unspoken what will happen if you do? Sha la la la la.

Extract yourself from the mystery, of course, and The Untouchable is pretty thin gruel, a vaguely glammy distillation of every second division British rock íní roller that could ever have been a contender.

Co-writer and producer Pete Shelley basically has three good ideas and spreads them way too far - the best songs are the two hit singles, the rest are barely B-sides - and, again, once past the hits, Alvin himself has only a marginally convincing singing voice.

But image is everything and in early 1974, Stardust had an aura to die for. Even a halfway decent album was simply the icing on the cake.

CD 2: Alvin Stardust (1974)
1. Red Dress
2. Heartbeat
3. Just Love Me Baby
4. Whereís She Gone
5. You, You, You
6. Chilli Willi
7. Jump Down!
8. Shake On Little Roller!
9. Tell Me Why
10. First Train Out
11. Blind Fool
12. Little Darliní [Bonus Track]
13. Come On! [Bonus Track]
14. Roadie Roll On [Bonus Track]
15. Good Love Can Never Die [Bonus Track]
16. The Danger Zone [Bonus Track]
17. Chilli Willi [Alvinís Heartbeats - Bonus Track]
18. Chilli Willi (Part 2) [Alvinís Heartbeats - Bonus Track]

The second disc contains his self titles #37 charting album and features the UK hit singles Red Dress (#7), You You You (#6) and Tell Me Why (#16) plus, among the seven bonus tracks, the #11 smash hit Good Love Can Never Die.

Alvin continued to emerge as an image-conscious pop idol in early-1970s England, mixing glam rock with í50s rock íní roll influences. His aforementioned debut album made a huge splash in the U.K., and the self-titled follow-up came just seven months later, but didnít fare nearly as well in the charts.

Regardless, it offers a similar musical blend to its predecessor, with ballads like Where Sheís Gone and rockers like Shake On Little Roller. Once again, the tunes were penned mostly by Stardustís producer Peter Shelley (not to be confused with the Buzzcocks leader!) with a little help from the star himself.

CD 3: Rock With Alvin (1975)
1. Twenty Flight Rock
2. CíMon Everybody
3. Bony Maronie
4. Move It
5. Itís Better To Be Cruel Than Be Kind
6. Angel From Hamburger Heaven
7. Itís Only A Song Peggy Sue
8. Good Love Can Never Die
9. The Love Bug
10. Come On
11. Bye Bye Love
12. Never In A Million Years
13. Sweet Cheatiní Rita [Bonus Track]
14. Be Smart Be Safe (The Green Cross Code Song) [Bonus Track]
15. Here I Go Again [Bonus Track]
16. The Word Is Out 17 No Parking Space [Bonus Track]
18. Growiní Up [Bonus Track]
19. A Hoboís Life [Bonus Track]
20. Sweet Little Rock ĎNí Roller [Bonus Track]
21. Save Your Love [Bonus Track]
22. Jailhouse Rock [Bonus Track]
23. Love Is Real [Bonus Track]

The final disc is the Rock With Alvin album from 1975 which now comes compete with 10 bonus tracks made up of non-LP singles including the previously German-only 45 Sweet Little Rock ĎNí Roller which makes its debut on this release.

For my money, this sound was a genuine artefact from the last great era of bubblegum, whilst having one foot firmly planted in the UKs Glam Rock explosion! After the success of his past singles Jealous Mind and My Coo Ca Choo, Alvin became a household name releasing albums and appearing on television all backed by incredible live performances.

This album captures this era brilliantly with glammed up covers of artists like Eddie Cochran and the Everly brothers. Alvinís version of CíMon Everybody even has T-Rex bongos and sounds bloody wonderful!.

Of the original songs, well, as you know, itís Glam rock bubblegum all the way, with nods and winks to Buddy Holly, one of Alvinís heroes. Indeed, within Itís Only A Song Peggy Sue, he even quotes one of Buddyís songs and its sound is pure fuzzed-up Holly and the Crickets!

Angel From Hamburger Heaven is yet another rocker of a love song as are both Good Love Can Never Die and The Love Bug and now with ten wondrous bonus tracks - including the jaunty Sweet Cheatiní Rita, the vibrant The Word Is Out 17 No Parking Space, the sweet melodic rock of Growiní Up, along with every kids favorite growing up, Be Smart Be Safe (The Green Cross Code Song) - if you wanted a starting place for Alvinís music in your life, you couldnít find much finer than this new 3CD box-set.

Official 3CD Purchase Link