Review Summary: "You know that it's not really what it seems to be, but like the Devil's invitation, it might just set you free..."
Upon the imminent end of the 1970s, the epigram of “out with the old, in with the new” was moreso literal than ever. Overseas in England, punk rock was taking the wheel with disenchanted youths with a great focus on rebellion, urban life, and going against the social norms. For punk, simplicity was key. So what good does it do for groups in a progressive or glam-like vein? Not exactly too much, as progressive rock went the way of the dinosaur, failing to get a hold of the public as they once did earlier in the decade. Glam rock as a whole was disregarded as a fad that was a relic of a generation that was caught up in their newfound sexual freedom, as well as the concepts that came with the flamboyance of glam (androgyny, camp, gender roles). So by the late 1970s, it can be said that both progressive rock and glam were dead and buried, or at least a very faint blip on the radar over in Britain. Now, what does this have to do with the trio known as Metro? Quite a bit if I’m being liberal about it all. Metro were a short-lived group made up of three multi-instrumentalists (Peter Godwin, Duncan Browne and Sean Lyons) who were influenced by the sounds of various glam and progressive groups of the decade, such as Roxy Music, Sparks and David Bowie. Metro itself didn’t fall into either the glam or progressive categories so easily, instead going for an assorted array of sounds that made it difficult to designate into one specific genre.
Unleashed upon an unsuspecting public in 1976, Metro
was flagrantly sexual, keeping in touch with the band’s glam influences – most notable on opener ”Criminal World”
and the eight-minute epic ”Flame”
. On the cover to the album is the image of two sharply dressed men (Godwin and Browne, respectively), looking straight out of a chic Roxy Music-themed social. These allusions to the glam groups of yesteryear not only in style, but lyrically as well gave an edge to Metro’s sound and image. The music itself presented on Metro
is as confrontational as any punk band, expressive as any progressive group, and most definitely flamboyant and suggestive in the spirit of glitter. Containing rather sensual lyrics (although tame to today’s standard), ”Criminal World”
is a stellar introduction to the boys in Metro, upholding a seedy, yet sleek mood to the album. Other tracks, such as the jangly pop standout ”Mono Messiah”
; the cabaret-flavoured, melancholy ballad ”One-Way Night”
and the rather progressive rock-ish finale ”Jade”
all offer contrasting vibes and concepts to the listener that could possibly leave a striking impression to last for who knows how long.
Unabashedly evocative in their writing and a tad bit challenging to “get”, Metro burned out as soon as they arrived on the scene. A few years too late for the glam rock craze, and not too far from the rise of the New Romantics, the band failed to realize their full potential and faded into near- obscurity (after two more albums, without Duncan Browne’s involvement) by the 1980s. The band however, lived on in David Bowie’s 1983 mega-hit Let’s Dance
, which featured a cover of ”Criminal World”
, admittedly Metro’s signature song. While seeming like the remnants of British glam rock, Metro had proven on their debut effort that they might’ve foreshadowed the New Romantic movement of the 1980s, using the camp ideals of glam as the vanguard of the strapping movement that was taking a similar hold of Britain in the same way punk had did a few years earlier.