The Tracks of my Years

Splitting out lives into decades is, at best, an arbitrary experience. Its not possible to divide a century by 10 and expect life events to follow a pattern. The first part of the 70’s were really just the end of the 60’s, the bad end when things had gone wrong with the hippie dream. The charts featured bands like Atomic Rooster,Hawkwind, even Jimmy Hendrix. Everybody had long hair flared jeans and occasionally an afghan coat. The 70’s ended with young men jerking about frantically while they played. The likes of Squeeze, the Police and Elvis Costello were only a couple of years younger than the early bands, but they had short hair and tight trousers and seemed like a different species entirely. Most significantly, waiting in the wings were the likes of the Human League and Depeche Mode who were to stage their own quiet revolution, in ten years’ time music would be completely different again.

Sandwiched in the middle was the real 70’s (about 5 years), glam,prog, punk, disco,reggae and some genuinely good pop and rock. The thing that united recording in those days (with a few notable exceptions) was that it was played, usually in real time, by real people. Apart from rudimentary drum machinesall music was created by musicians, quite often in the same room at the same time. In the 70’s music was recorded, by the end of the 80’s it was being assembled. Technology hadn’t really taken off, there might be more tracks to record on but the recording process was not greatly different in 1980 from 1970, in fact it wasn’t hugely different from the 50’s. 

Today its quite possible that, given a couple of hours, I could create and record a song using my phone, technically it would be better quality than anything from the 70’s  but, lets face it, it would be crap. For me there no substitute for the sound of people playing together and to a large extent that was the unifying sound of the 70’s whether it was a band of childhood friends or a group of session musicians.

And so. I’m intending to write about some of the individual pieces of music that shaped the 70’s and influenced me. I was hoping for a pithy heading for this. Alas ‘the tracks of my years’ has already been used by the Ken Bruce* show on Radio 2 who also created ‘the sounds of the 70’ back in that decade. I lack the creativity to come up with anything memorable (any suggestions welcome) so the best I can do is number each track as they appear. It’s a count up not a count down, I’m not sure where this will end.

Number one is next week.

*thats his picture, it’s not me !


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