The 1970s were a strange time. No-one up until then had got used to the pessimism. They were a time of industrial unrest and a general feeling that things were out of control. Only in the 1970s could this person, or his jacket that he was never seen without, have commanded any national attention.
The early 1970s was also a time when bad taste reigned supreme. Every period has its fashion disasters but the 1970s had nothing else. Musically, things were the same. Although David Bowie produced the peerless Ziggy Stardust album and much more good stuff besides, his bad-taste imitators were legion. This was the time of the not-missed, not-lamented glam rock. For a brief period – not brief enough – the charts were dominated by Gary Glitter, the Sweet and the Bay City Rollers.
On the other hand, those who took their music more seriously (but weren’t listening to Little Feat), could constructively engage with “progressive rock”. At least Gary Glitter only took three minutes of your life away, the prog-rockers couldn’t stop at that. Nowadays there is for some reason some nostalgia for that time and that music, but at the time you couldn’t help wondering what the world was coming to. Unrelenting, turgid and pretentious music it was, the worst offenders being for my money Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who I had the misfortune to see, as an afterthought, at Wembley Arena in 1974. Yes, King Crimson and Genesis get (dis)honourable mentions.
It wasn’t all bad, of course. This was the era of Dark Side of the Moon, Exile on Main Street and Innervisions, as well as the aforementioned Ziggy Stardust. Nevertheless by 1976 it was well beyond time to blow the glam-rockers and the prog-rockers away.
So, punk rock. Music at its best is rich in emotion, and although most of the punks were carefree in admitting that they couldn’t play, a great time was had. For me, I wasn’t a massive fan at the time, and continued to listen to blues and jazz. But I think I missed out on the times and didn’t at the time appreciate the message. Not all of them were good – the Clash, I’d say, were particularly overrated. But the most notorious band still sound good today. Never mind the bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols.
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