Music That Existed On An 8-Track In A Pinto … Once Upon A Time

So I have been gone a while; having been just too busy working in the real world to play in my cyber wonderland.  I get up at 4am and hit my pathetic little cubby by 4:30- 5am in order to spin plastic into gold for “the Man”.  Although in all fairness, “the Man” at my work place is a rather cool dude and treats everyone very well.  And then I get home and work some more in order to keep things flowing smoooooooothly.

But we are busy, which is a big deal, and getting busier and busier.  And since as a production planner (what is that I hear some twat in the back ask “what does a production planner do?” – I plan production, arsehole) I am surfing a monster wave of demand on a little tiny surfboard of staff, which means that I am juggling many balls all at once.  Or to put it much more succinctly, I am trying to crap a twenty pound turd through a two pound arsehole.

But hopefully one and all get the gist of things:  I have been very busy.  And since I have been very busy, I have not really done anything exciting with the Warhammer 40K or going to movies or such; but I have listened to tons of great music as I work.  And what have I been listening to a lot lately?  I have really gone back and listened to music from that most maligned of musical decades:  the ‘70s.

Now the ‘70s is a decade that really needs to get itself a much better publicist.  Because, although it was the decade that gave us The Carpenters, Captain &Tenille and disco, it was also the decade that marked the end of The Beatles; the peak of The Rolling Stones and the Kinks and the Who; the absolute brilliance of Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley; the rise of punk and new wave and metal.

The Beatles – Let It Be (1970)

Let It Be

Probably the reason that the ‘70s is so maligned for its music is probably the fact that it didn’t have the Beatles.  There is an all pervasive odour that there was no music before John, Paul, George and Ringo; and little of any substance afterwards.  How wrong is that notion?

Let It Be was made in 1969 then held back until after Abbey Road was recorded and released as the band was not happy with it.  And it is not as good as Abbey Road but it was their swansong and left a gaping void that glam rushed to fill.

David Bowie – Hunky Dory (1971)

hunky dory

I have been a massive fan of David Bowie since I first saw him doing “Space Oddity” on Top Of The Pops.  I listened to David Bowie songs at the Youff Club (Youth Club to those who do not speak Norf London (sort of a juvenile delinquent training center with snooker tables)) and I still go back and listen to all of the Bowie albums.

My favourite period of Bowie is his period working with Mick Ronson on guitar and Hunky Dory is the best of those albums:  even better than The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.  The best track on the album is “Life On Mars”.

Elton John – Honky Chateau (1972)

honky chateau

It is amazing the effect that cocaine, alcohol and sexual confusion can have on the creative process.  And in a period when Elton was releasing an album about every 8 months each filled with great music, it is this album that is my favourite.   (At this time I was seeing Elton John regularly at Watford Town football matches as I went to just about every home game – even football hooligans have to start out in the lower divisions.)

While “Rocket Man” is the most famous song on this album and it is the song that cemented Elton John as a mega-star, it is “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” that steals the record.  To this day, the 1971 – 1976 Elton still stands up as some of the best music ever recorded.

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions (1973)

innervisions

1973 was a wondrous year for music.  This was also the year that Iggy and the Stooges unleashed Raw Power on the world and helped kick start punk.  But my mum brought me up on Stevie Wonder music and I love Innervisions and also 1976’s Songs In The Key Of Life.

Innervisions had “Higher Ground” with its wicked synth groove and “Living In The City” and “Golden Lady”. Thinking about things, it is fascinating that someone as conservative as my mother would love Motown and Memphis soul and the Philly Sound as much as she did (and still does).

Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour ’74 (1974 (duh))

rory gallagher

I am still amazed by the number of music “aficionados” who have never heard any of this guitar genius’ work and who worship at the Temple of Eric.  I love Eric Clapton music too, but he is not even the best guitarist from the Yardbirds let alone the best guitarist ever:  but Rory Gallagher just might be!

“Cradle Rock” is just one of the greatest guitar jams of all time:  and it really cooks live.  And if you want a real treat, then check out some of the YouTube videos of the late, great Irish guitar genius playing live and doing things attributed to later guitar legends (ten finger tapping anyone?).

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti (1975)

Physical Graffiti

I am not a Zep Head but I love this album.  Especially, I love the song “Kashmir” with its amazing drum track and the stunning violin bow over Les Paul guitar work.  Rumour has it that John Bonham hit the drums so hard that you can hear the drum sticks cutting through the air on this track.

This was one of the last hurrahs for rock as it existed at this time.  Iggy Pop and the Ramones were plotting the decline of moral decency and over in my part of the world, things were beginning to come together along the King’s Road as the country bordered on anarchy, chaos and revolution.

Rush – 2112 (1976)

2112

I cannot put into words how happy it makes me that Rush will (finally) be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next spring.  They were the first concert that I went to in America and I saw them on the 2112 tour in Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.  That was the first of many Rush shows.

Last year, I had the pleasure of watching them again on their Time Machine tour and I got to take my youngest daughter; who had a blast.  In fact there were many families at the show all singing along to Tom Sawyer et al:  kids, parents and grandparents.

The Clash – The Clash (1977)

The Clash

Even though I grew up in North London, the epicenter of punk rock country, I was not really interested by punk until I heard the Clash and later that year Television.  And while I love Televison’s Marquee Moon and have been rocking out to it on vinyl, cassette and cd for 35 years, the Clash truly is “the only band that matters” and somehow, over the years they have not only lived up to the hype, they have transcended it.

Their first album is just a taste of what was to come and so, to me, is just that more important than London Calling or Sandinista:  even though it is nowhere near as musically complex.  And the politics on the album allowed my father and I to bond as, in the eyes of my mother, I turned to socialism, trade unionism and left wing politics.  And Joe: to my generation, you are immortal and your words and ideas will live forever.

Dire Straits – Dire Straits (1978)

Dire Straits

1978 produced two of the greatest guitar songs of all time:  Adam Raised A Cain off of Springsteen’s brilliant Darkness On The Edge Of Town and Sultans Of Swing off of the first Dire Straits album.  For me though, it is the Dire Straits album that is my favourite.

Now this is not because of the music, but because Dire Straits was a band that my dad snuck me into a pub in London to see play long before this album hit the charts.  It was evident then that Mark Knopfler was a brilliant guitarist and his finger picking style remains highly individual.  “Sultans Of Swing” is a song that has to be witnessed live to really appreciate that finger picking style.

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)

Joy Division

It is quite possible that 1979 is the greatest musical year ever.  The Clash released London Calling, Michael Jackson dropped Off The Wall, Pink Floyd built The Wall and brilliant new bands like The Police, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Blondie and the B-52s were creating amazing music.  Even mainstream acts like AC/DC and Fleetwood Mac had brilliant albums.

But it was Joy Division who seemed to have the brightest future.  They were one of those bands that just seemed destined for global domination and yet a year after this album came out, Ian Curtis had taken his own life and Joy Division was morphing into New Order.  The album itself is raw and emotional and needs to be looked at from more than an esthetic sense.  It is like listening to the first couple of U2 albums or the first couple of Police albums:  you just knew that there was something massive to come.  The death of Ian Curtis showed just how tantalizing and fickle “potential” can turn out to be.

Donna Summer

And on another special ‘70s note – I have to just say “Shame on you Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters.  Do you feel that electing Donna Summer posthumously this year in any way makes up for not allowing the world to see her perform one last time when she should have been elected years ago.  Shame on all of you.”

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One Response

  1. Not that I had an 8-Track or a Pinto… Oh no, I was ecstatic to have a Mustang II (you know, the one with a four-banger that looked like a Japanese import economy car) with a cassette player.

    There was no track changes in the middle of a song in my life.

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