Sunday, April 23, 2017

Scrapbook: more of the case for the defence for pop music in 1976

My previous post offered a qualified defence of 1976 as actually not being such a terrible year for pop music as might have been thought. While the foundation of my argument rests on the view that soul, funk and the new kid on the block, disco, were not only in the rudest of health but also formed a fair proportion of the Top 40, I thought I'd see what else I might call to the defence of '76.

Here are some thoughts to get me started which I will work up into longer posts as I go forward. 

Any preferences? Anything else you think I should be tackling?

1. Stevie Wonder releases Songs In The Key of Life

Although I Wish was a top 5 hit towards the end of year, SITKOL is worth a citation in its own right as there's so much goodness on this double album it's unbelievable: As, Love's In Need Of Love Today, Have A Talk With A God and Sir Duke (which charted big the following year). 

I mean, Have A Talk With God sounds like Stevie and a chorus of malfunctioning R2-units praising the Creator and it's still an amazing piece of pop music. Sui generis.

2. Reminder: the golden age of classic rock continued 

Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear The Reaper, Boston's More Than A Feeling, Thin Lizzy's The Boys Are Back In Town, Kiss' Detroit Rock City, The Eagles' Hotel California. All released on albums in '76, all singles, all great pop regardless of what else they and their bands might be.

Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody, of course, we've already covered.

3. Yankee punk countercurrents: Ramones and The Modern Lovers release their first albums 

Okay, so neither band were troubling the charts of 1976 on either side of the Atlantic. But since Blitzkrieg Bop, Roadrunner and the rest helped inspire a new-old style of pop music in the years that followed, at the very least we can point to the creative health of the punk margins at this time as a sign of what was to come.

And whisper it, but Anarchy In The UK was released in November 1976.

4. ELO enter their imperial period

We're still two years away from Mr Blue Sky, but A New World Record was out and Livin' Thing snuck it's way into the Top 10. ELO were on heavy rotation in my house when i was very young, so this would inevitably be something of a sentimental journey.

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