The 1970’s Pt. 3

Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic from 1975

I received some feedback on the first two 1970’s posts citing that there were “some forgotten songs mentioned, and yet they came back immediately in my head” which is all part of the fun.

Music of the 1970’s

Parts one and two focused on three major sources; the Billboard charts, Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs and from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. A few other references were used and I will try not to repeat myself as I would like to give an overview of the decades music. It was a time of much social change and we saw the introduction of many new music styles that still impact the music of today.

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The 1970's Pt. 2 (75-79)

The 1970’s Pt. 2 (75-79)

Bruce

This is the 1970’s continued from Pt. 1 and just a reminder that I have short formed the Rolling Stone Magazines 500 Greatest Songs of All Time to 500 Greatest . The Rolling Stone list has been revised three times and to maintain the 500 number, songs have been subtracted from prior lists. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs that Shaped R&R (500 Shaped) has been updated, no songs were dropped and it now includes another 160 songs and is simply referred to as ‘The Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll’. On the expanded list I found the 1970’s only had minor additions, hence my reference to the original titles as it just makes an easier comparison, at least for my purposes.

1975

On the Pop charts we had Elton John with three #1 songs “Philadelphia Freedom” being one, KC and the Sunshine Band had two #1’s “That’s the Way (I Like It)” hit two different times, Neil Sedaka had “Laughter in the Rain” and “Bad Blood” and he co-wrote and originally recorded “Love Will Keep Us Together” in 1973 and the cover version hit #1 for four weeks, sung by The Captain & Tennille. Read More »

The 1970's Pt. 1 (1970-74)

 

 (1970-74)

Tapestry from my collection

There is too much to talk about for the 1970’s so I’ll split this one up. Parts one and two will largely focus on songs and charts by year and part three I will look at genres, key artists, trends and cultural impact. I have touched on this decade in many of my posts, for me personally the 70’s is the more formative era for my musical experience. Many of us cling to the music of our youth, for me talking about this time takes me from late elementary, then high school through to college. 

If you read my post on The 60’s I described it as the decade with the greatest change and the most impactful era of Popular music, and I stand by that assessment. However if you take any stretch of 10 years of music you will see if not a new genre, then several sub and sub sub genre. The 1970’s produced some of the greatest music of any era. Staying true to my mandate I have to point out that cover songs play an important part. They sometimes appear on the charts years after the original, as a result when tracking cover song statistics there are a number of data points that alter a songs place in history. Read More »

Southern Rock

Southern Rock

Lynyrd Skynyrd

As I have discussed in previous posts trying to pigeon hole bands into genres and subgenres in particular is a tough task at times. That said when we think of Southern Rock there are certain names that come to mind. Most likely those would be ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ (LS) and ‘The Allman Brothers Band’ (ABB). I’ve read that the late Ronnie Van Sant who was the lead singer of LS said they were “a rock band who just happen to be from the South” and this is certainly true. But there are some characteristics of the subgenre which set it apart in more ways than just geography. The all too obvious songs we can point to are “Sweet Home Alabama” by LS (1974) and Charlie Daniels “The South’s Gonna Do It” (1975). The former I touched on a bit in my post on Neil Young as his “Alabama” and “Southern Man” both struck a nerve in the south and prompted LS to strike back with an ‘answer song’ both eschewing his view of the south and calling him out by name in the lyrics. They promoted their ‘southern pride’ all the way to a #8 hit song. While the latter from Charlie Daniels was only a minor hit, it lists the names of the some of the Rock bands from the ‘South’ like LS, Grinderswitch, ZZ Top, Elvin Bishop and a few others. Here he is promoting a resurgence of the music and putting the ‘South’ back on the Rock & Roll map. Incidentally a song covered by …no one, while “Sweet Home Alabama” ironically was first covered in 1981 by Charlie Daniels . I should mention here that R&R started in the ‘South’ and perhaps the “British Invasion” made some forget that fact, hence I think that’s why this subgenre is so important.Read More »

Classic Rock

Classic Rock

What is now referred to as ‘Classic Rock’ was just plain ole R&R when I was growing up, so while the music is now ‘classic’, me…not so much. In part thanks to baby boomer parents like myself who exposed their children to the songs, 1970’s and 80’s Rock is alive and well. What has really kept it alive though (apart from demographics) is the music itself, a lot of really talented artists making great tunes. Everyone I think has some songs from their youth that hold a lot of meaning, but few era’s of music have the staying power these bands produced.Read More »

Bohemian Rhapsody

“Bohemian Rhapsody”-by Queen released Oct 1975 written by Freddie Mercury and there are 116 cover versions according to Secondhandsongs.com (Notwithstanding the version by Døsty Cåwshit in 1995, that’s Dusty Cowshit in English) most of them are pretty good!
From the album “A Night at the Opera”, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ stayed at the top of the UK singles chart for nine weeks. It is the third best-selling British single of all time, beaten only by Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’ 1997. It peaked at number 9 in the U.S. but reached number one in Canada. 
Read more about the band in this great article. 
A timely post for me as there’s just been announced a Freddie Mercury/Queen Biopic coming out apparently this fall. Here is a bit of a primer I guess to that movie which I am looking forward to seeing!

So a few years after the songs release in the late fall of 1978 I purchased two tickets to see Queen play in my hometown of London Ontario. We didn’t get a lot of big names in London and being a fan, this was pretty exciting. They were playing Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens December 3 and 4 and I guess tacked on the London date as it was not on the official tour schedule. I don’t remember how much I paid for the tickets, but I seem to recall somewhere in the $8-15 per range, but “nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me” because the concert was cancelled. Something about Freddie’s voice -being strained I believe, more like Freddie saying to the booking agent something like …so we are in Canada in the bloody cold? And now we’re playing a place called London, Ontario? In the winter Ya? Not bloody likely!

Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara, September 5,1946 in Stone Town, Sultanate of Zanzibar (now Tanzania) He died on November 24, 1991 (aged 45) in Kensington, London, England. The cause of death was Bronchopneumonia  a complication of AIDS. Freddie had announced to the media he had aids on November 23, 1991, he died the next day. Not to focus just on Freddie because the rest of the band was very talented as well but I have to keep this reasonably short.
Mercury grew up in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex, England, in his teens. He formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.
In 1992, Mercury was posthumously awarded the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, and a tribute concert was held at Wembley Stadium, London. As a member of Queen, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2002, he was placed number 58 in the BBC’s 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He is consistently voted one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.
Freddie Mercury enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic in West London where he studied art. He earned a diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College, later he used these skills to design the Queen heraldic arms in their logo.
So back to the song, when it was eventually released as a single, “Bohemian Rhapsody” became a commercial success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks and selling more than a million copies by the end of January 1976 which by today’s standards may not sound like much but back then it was huge. It topped the charts again in 1991 for another five weeks when the same version was re-released following Mercury’s death, eventually becoming the UK’s third-best-selling single of all time. It reached number two in the U.S. after the movie Wayne’s World in 1992.
Other interesting stuff from Wikipedia
When the band wanted to release the single in 1975, various executives suggested to them that, at 5 minutes and 55 seconds, it was too long and would never be a hit. The song was played to other musicians who commented the band had no hope of it ever being played on radio.  According to producer Roy Thomas Baker, he and the band bypassed this corporate decision by playing the song for Capital Radio DJ Kenny Everett: “we had a reel-to-reel copy but we told him he could only have it if he promised not to play it. ‘I won’t play it,’ he said, winking…” Their plan worked – Everett teased his listeners by playing only parts of the song. Audience demand intensified when Everett played the full song on his show 14 times in two days. Hordes of fans attempted to buy the single the following Monday, only to be told by record stores that it had not yet been released.
The same weekend, Paul Drew, who ran the RKO stations in the States, heard the track on Everett’s show in London. Drew managed to get a copy of the tape and started to play it in the States, which forced the hand of Queen’s US label, Elektra. In an interview with Sound on Sound, Baker reflects that “it was a strange situation where radio on both sides of the Atlantic was breaking a record that the record companies said would never get airplay!” Eventually the unedited single was released, with “I’m in Love with My Car” as the B-side. Following Everett’s escapade in October 1975, Eric Hall, a well-known record plugger, gave a copy to David “Diddy” Hamilton to play on his weekday Radio One show. Eric stated “Monster, Monster! This could be a hit!”
And from Rolling Stone Magazine
Brian May (guitarist, Queen): Mike Myers phoned me up and said, “We’ve got this thing which we think is great. Do you want to hear it?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Do you think Freddie would want to hear it?” Now Freddie was really sick by that time but I said, “Yeah, I’m sure he will.” Mike gave me a tape which I took ’round to Freddie and played to him. Freddie loved it. He just laughed and thought it was great, this little video. The funny thing was, we always regarded the song as tongue in cheek ourselves. If it would come on the radio, we would all be headbanging when it came to the heavy bit as well, us as a group. It was very close to our sense of humor. (https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-oral-history-of-the-wayne-s-world-bohemian-rhapsody-scene-20151130)
Sources; Secondhandsongs.com, Wikipedia, Rollingstone.com

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