Rockbrat Remembers: IRON VIRGIN (Long forgotten glam band from the early 70s)

Posted: January 20, 2011 by Cowboy Col in Rockbrat Remembers:
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Up The Irons

I’ve been listening to Iron Virgin a lot lately. Great band, great songs, and it’s a pity that they never made it, cos they had the SONGS to do it. Yet they had a lousy name! What was up with that ? You are never gone have your poster tacked onto a teenage girl’s bedroom wall in Cardiff, Croydon, Bromley or anywhere for that matter with a band name like that! I wonder that if they had have come under the auspices of the ‘Chinni Chap’ management machine whether their fate could have been a little different? The band formed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1972. They played in London and even Luxembourg. In 1973, Decca assigned their best producer, Nick Tauber, who produced Thin Lizzy (The Boys Are Back in Town) to scour Scotland for a new band for the Deram label, a spinoff of Decca.  He came to a small town in Scotland to listen to the band and, at the intermission revealed nothing of what he thought about them. However at the end of the show, he said that this was the best live band he’d seen since The Move. The band went down to London to record some demos in Decca’s West Hampstead studio which eventually was bought by the Moody Blues. Justin Hayward and the rest of the Moody Blues were quite often there while Iron Virgin were there. Consequently, the band was signed to Decca Records. The band wanted to record their own composition for their first release, but Decca thought it best to record “Jet” which, at the time, was an album track on Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run” album. The single was recorded and ready for release in December of 1973 but Decca didn’t release it until February of 1974. Back in those days, there was no commercial radio and, to have a hit, it really had to get national airplay on the BBC. Slowly but surely it got played. The band was ecstatic, convinced that they had a fabulous hit on their hands. Not so much because of their version, but because Jet was a pretty darn good pop song. A few weeks later, just as the single was gaining some momentum, Paul McCartney released it as a single. The rest, as they say, is history. I think there version of ‘Jet’ is KILLER. Sounds great loud all these years later. Their second, and best known, single was “Rebels Rule”, from their 1974 album of the same name.  This song has a big stomping sound and thumping drums that were the backbone of Gary Glitter’s best tunes. This song sounds so much like the Runaways ‘California Paradise’ that I’d go so far as to say that Mr. Fowley has ripped this off. Maybe he heard Rodney spinning it at The English Disco? It’s a great tune. Talk about teen anthem. Get your boots on!   It scored reasonable reviews and a variation called “Stand Up for Kenny Everett” was often played on the BBC by the DJ of the title. The song has been described as “A brilliantly bombastic ode to teenage anarchy; the single’s commercial failure is one of the great mysteries of its era”. And there you go. ‘Rebels Rule’ is indeed one of the biggest teen anthems to flop on the charts. If Slade had have done it – it would have gone to No. 1. I was a big fan of another UK band from this period called Silverhead, who also never made it as big as Sweet or to the big time good and proper. Anyways, as I mentioned, Iron Virgin release a debut album in 1974, which is pretty hard to find nowadays. One of the lost bands of the glam era worthy of your attention.  Check out ‘Rebel Rule’ here

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Comments
  1. Hamish says:

    Hey Cowboy,
    It’s not Rebels Rule that sounds like the Runaways but the Runaways who sound like Rebels Rule. Iron Virgin recorded RR in 1974 and California Paradise was recorded in 197. Nuff said?

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