The 70´s: The decade, the music, the playlist!

Our deconstruction of the decade and its music.

Culture, fashion and film

Women´s suffragette was finally legalized in 1970. The decade was heavily marked by feminism and a struggle to bring a gender equality awareness across the United States and the Western Hemisphere. The youth vote was also established in 1971 with an amendment that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years of age. The Supreme Court of the United States made a controversial and important decision with Roe V. Wade and by declaring the constitutional right to abortion.

In film, there were many important Oscar winning films but it was also the beginning of the iconic STAR WARS!

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hammil  in Star Wars
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hammil in Star Wars

“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy….”

We also saw Spielberg come into his own with great movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and were eternally scared by it, to the point of being afraid EVEN IN A POOL when swimming alone and at night by the classic film JawsThen there was Grease (not that afraid…maybe of Travolta’s open shirt)..The Exorcist (WILL NOT EVEN CONSIDER IT OR WON¨T SLEEP FOR A MONTH), Superman (NO ONE will ever be better than Christopher Reeve), The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever and Rocky.
John Travolta became a superstar as Tony Manero in the box-office smash Saturday Night Fever
John Travolta became a superstar as Tony Manero in the box-office smash Saturday Night Fever
In TV cable television became more available and we saw the best thing yet: The birth of HBO!! Soap operas became more and more popular, as did gameshows and sit-coms as daytime television became more commonplace when TV stations realised they had a massive audience of housewives, students and unemployed people to cater to.
Fashion was influenced by Hollywood films and the Hippie movement. We can never forget Bell-bottomed pants, turtle necked shirts and platform shows. In hair there was the Mohawk (associated with the punk movement) and of course, the one and only hair that counted was Farrah Fawcet´s hair.
'Charlie's Angel' Farrah Fawcett and her hair
‘Charlie’s Angel’ Farrah Fawcett with her hair
Science and Technology
The decade brought with it: the birth of the computer, pocket calculators, THE SONY WALKMAN!!!!!!!!!

Sony-Walkman

 

Also, it saw the birth of the floppy disk, fibber optics, microwave ovens, VCR´s, the first cell phones and the first voice mail message.

Global Politics and events

President Nixon resigns from Office after a “reality beats fiction” scandal (actually, it turned out to be a great book and movie) known as “The Watergate Scandal“. The Vietnam war ended, there was economic recession in many industrialized countries because of the Oil crisis due to an embargo in the Arab Oil Exporting countries, Mao Zedong died changing conditions in China, Pinochet led a military coup in Chile, the fight for political and economic liberty of women increased but at the same time, in a backlash, the Iranian revolution happened in 1979, the same year that Margaret Thatcher was elected as the first and only female Prime Minister in the United Kingdom.

The soon-to-be-utterly-disgraced President Richard Nixon
The soon-to-be-utterly-disgraced President Richard Nixon

Music

The 70´s: what a decade…full of changes,  and GOOD music!

As the decade began rock was still the big music for many, whether it was Soft Rock (or MOR) like James Taylor and Elton John, or Hard Rock like Deep Purple, or if you liked it a bit stronger still Black Sabbath, the world’s first proper Heavy Metal band. Then you had Glam Rock as epitomised by Marc Bolan of T-Rex fame, and bands like Sweet and Slade who wore glitter, make-up and enormous stack shoes.

Slade
Slade at their absolute Sladest

And then of course there was David Bowie who would constantly reinvent himself throughout the decade, making brilliant record after brilliant record in the process. The other Rock megastars of the time were Led Zepellin and Pink Floyd – serious musicians who didn’t release singles and whose every album and 3-hour stadium show was greeted with awestruck reverence. And of course you had Prog-Rock, bands like Yes, Genesis and E.L.P. who were bringing classical influences and making ‘concept’ albums full of dazzling musicianship, indecipherable lyrics and tracks that were often 20 minutes long.

As the decade wore on such grandiosity and self-importance started to give way to musical cultures that took things back down to earth. Firstly came Disco, born of the gay club-scene in places like New York and Detroit, which favoured DJ’s and repetitive bass-heavy rhythms and of course, dancing! The Bee Gees helped popularise the form (as well as white suits, open shirts and medallions) along with the likes of Donna Summer and Sylvester. Funk and Soul music were also hugely succesful with artists like Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield all at their peaks.

Then there was punk, which whilst musically was entirely different from disco had somethin in common with it in that both were outsiders movements. Punk was all about untutored 3-chord abandon, and embodied the disillusionment with society of many young people who felt disconnected with the ‘peace and love’ generation of a few years before. Punk was about anger, anarchy, and individuality and bands like The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and The Clash led the way, going on to make some of the most influential records of all time.

Ramones_CBGBs_Oct.30.1977
Cooler than you or me: The Ramones at CBGB’s in New York

Then finally you had the start of hip-hop culture in New York with DJ’s like Kool Herc and Afrikaa Bambaata inventing whole new approaches to playing records, and rapping beginning to develop also.

The Playlist

5 songs from our playlist:

David Bowie – Life On Mars

David Bowie is the 70s. The ultimate artist, he sings, writes amazing lyrics, is an arranger, a good actor and  to top it all of, he has created the perfect concept: himself. Reinventing himself constantly, he is a music legend (induced in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1996). He is a chameleon, marches at his own beat, a  truly unique and irreplaceable icon.

The public first met him in 1969 with “Space Oddity” and then he quickly became synonym with Glam Rock. Glam Rock is a British style of rock and pop music performed by musicians wearing crazy clothes, make up and hairstyles and above all glitter.

david-bowie-aladdin-500x250

“In your fear, seek only peace. In your fear, seek only love”. – David Bowie, Sunday

“Life on Mars” was written by Bowie and released in 1971. It was called by BBC Radio 2 “a cross between a Broadway Musical and Salvador Dali” (OH…ONE DAY I WILL WRITE A SENTENCE LIKE THAT AND THEN I WILL BE HAPPY). “at once completely impenetrable and yet resonant with personal meaning.” the song is intriguing, deep, nostalgic, hopeful and has been sucking fans in for decades and will continue to do so for decades to come.

Bob Marley & the Wailers – Satisfy My Soul

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Bob Marley

bob-marley
Reggae music’s biggest star, Bob Marley

Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley (Feb. 6 – 1945 – May 11 – 1981) was a Jamaican Reggae singer songwriter, musician (is he the third world´s first international pop star?). He came into fame with his group The Wailers with whom he reached international fame and then he went on to a solo career. In 1977 he released his album Exodus and he then became one of the best selling artists of all time. A Rastafari, he rejected materialism, oppression. He promoted finding faith and inspiration within one self and advocated the use of cannabis for spiritual purposes.

“Satisfy my soul” is a song included in the album Kaya, by Bob Marley and the Wailers. It  is laid back, soft, romantic..

Led Zeppelin – Black Dog

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgm7F30EN50

No band sum up rock music in the 70’s quite like Led Zeppelin. Everything they did was a huge statement – the albums, the Olympian guitar and drum solos, the massive stadium tours, the private jets, the debauchery – and even today they are still seen as THE Rock band against who all others must be judged. They were often derided by the music critics and yet it had no effect on record or ticket sales and by the mid-70’s they were biggest act in the world. Tales of their tour adventures are legendary, and the whole sex, drugs and rock n’ roll mythology that surrounds them could maybe only be matched by The Who and The Rolling Stones (they were at one point banned from Hilton hotels worldwide for their destruction of hotel rooms!).

Led Zep: Gigantosauruses of Rock
Led Zep: Gigantosauruses of Rock

As their fame and behaviour became more and more extreme so did their albums with each one becoming more experimental than the last. However, it is their untitled 4th record (known simply as Led Zeppelin IV) which would become their signature album, eventually selling 37 million copies and becoming one of the best-selling records of all time. The opening track, ‘Black Dog’ is a perfect example of the band at their biggest and best.

The Clash – White Man In Hammersmith Palais

By the late 70’s a whole new generation of kids had arrived and they weren’t too impressed with the likes of Led Zep, nor the hippy culture whose ‘peace and love’ ethos was now seen as hopelessly naive. Musically, there was increasing hostility towards the mega-star acts who lived opulent lives that had nothing to do with the daily existence of the people buying their records. Punk was born as a reaction against such things and in London and New York particularly a new generation of bands started to take rock and roll back to basics. Bands like The Ramones, Television, Sex Pistols and The Clash emerged and whilst it was the Pistols who would often grab the headlines, The Clash were busy making records that would later cement their reputation as the best band to emerge from that era. They could really play and in Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had a fantastic writing partnership that made them the punk equivalent of Lennon and McCartney, writing songs full of vital energy, bold politics, and great hooks. Plus, they were one of the first white rock bands to start infusing reggae in to their sound, as this song from their first LP perfectly demonstrates.

London punks The Clash in 1977
London punks The Clash in 1977

Donna Summer – I Feel Love
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2q2bis6eLE

Whilst Punk wore it’s counter-cultural credentials like a badge on it’s ripped leather jacket, it could be argued that Disco, the other great musical uprising of the late 70’s was in many ways more subversive and genuinely alternative. Coming out of club scenes in various US cities, but particularly New York, and musically borne out of Funk, Soul, and even things like Psychedelia and Latin music, Disco was at first played in clubs polulated by members of the gay, black and Latino communities, and with it’s favouring of anonymous DJ’s over star musicians was a distinctly seperate culture from that which dominated much of the music scene at the time. Rock fans laughed at Disco, but this was music that was much less ‘establishment’ than the massively corporate touring machines of the era. This was club music for people to lose themselves to on a Saturday night, music whose sole function was to get you on the dancefloor and keep you there.

Of course, as time wore on Disco moved in to the mainstream and bands like the Bee Gees and KC & the Sunshine Band became stars of the genre. However, of all the big disco hits of the period this is now seen as the most important by many, with it’s electronic groove very much the forerunner of so much of the dance music that would emerge over the next 20 years as Disco slowly became House music.

We hope you enjoy the playlist!

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