Wilde About Marty

The Dazzling All Night Rock Show… now that’s some name for a band.

Magnet Records was founded by Michael Levy (later Baron Levy) and songwriter Peter Shelley in 1973. A highly successful independent, the company is probably best known for hit singles by Alvin Stardust, Matchbox, Guys ‘n’ Dolls, Darts, Kissing the Pink, Bad Manners, Chris Rea, and Shelley himself, who scored with Gee Baby, Love Me, Love My Dog and who originated the character Alvin Stardust. The company also provided a home for some of the more grotesque audio excesses of one Jonathan King, including Lick A Smurp For Christmas, after the collapse of his own UK Records around 1976.

Shelley wrote, produced and sang Stardust’s hit My Coo Ca Choo, Magnet’s first single release, and he appeared as Stardust on the TV show Lift Off with Ayshea. However Shelly did not want to play Stardust (an amalgam of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Gene Vincent and early Brit rocker Vince Taylor) full time, and for all following TV appearances the character was played by former hitmaker Shane Fenton (born Bernard Jewry). Fenton became Stardust, performing as him from the second single and went on to have seven Top Ten hits.

The immediate success of Stardust took Shelley and Levy by surprise, and the pair were keen to capitalise on this. Teaming up with another former star, Marty Wilde, Shelley tried to recreate the formula… with dire consequences. Written and produced by Shelley and Wilde, and one of the earliest releases on the label, 20 Fantastic Bands was, unsurprisingly, The Dazzling All Night Rock Show’s only release. Fronted by Wilde (Kim’s dad; one of Larry Parnes’ stable of British teen stars), the Dazzling All Night Rock Show were a studio-only setup, put together in the hope of a novelty Christmas hit and with the intention of launching Wilde as a glam rock star. Sadly it wasn’t to be, which is hardly a surprise when you listen to the lame ‘jokes’ and ‘impersonations’ (including Boris Karloff, George Harrison and, I’m guessing, Edward Heath) on this disc, and the not-so-subtle appropriation of a couple of Number One hits from 1973, including Gary Glitter’s smash I'm The Leader Of The Gang (I Am!) and Sweet’s Blockbuster.

This was not Wilde’s first attempt out out-Garying Mr. Glitter. Magnet’s second seven-inch was a thing called Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazy by Zappo. Zappo was Wilde; the song was again written and produced by Shelley and Wilde, and it is another obvious (and not very good) rip off of the whole Glitter Band sound. The B-side Right On!, is an early synth/glam mashup that sounds like a rejected BBC-TV theme. Shelley and Wilde had no shame: they also collaborated on The Shang-A-Lang Song by Ruby Pearl and The Dreamboats, with Wilde impersonating a female doo-wop group on the A-side and mumbling over a bizarre, reverb-drenched instrumental on the flip that almost defies description. Shelly and Wilde wrote and produced any number of peculiar pseudo-glam discs for Magnet (Rub My Tummy by Zenda Jacks, for example) and Wilde also released a brace of 45s on Magnet under his own name.

None of these attempts to pitch Wilde into the glam rock field worked, and he and Magnet soon parted company. It would not be long though before he was back, masterminding daughter Kim’s pop career. Magnet was sold to Warners, where the company continued to have hits with the likes of D:Ream.

Marty is currently writing a biography: I wonder how many paragraphs he’ll give to his time on the fringes of glam… or how different the pop music scene would be today if he had taken on the mantle of Alvin Stardust rather than Shane Fenton?

Download 20 Fantastic Bands HERE

Download 20 Fantastic Bands (Continued) HERE

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