Tuesday, 30 September 2014

1971 - I'd like to teach the world to sing

NME recently published a list of the 500 best singles ever.  Scientific analysis showed that only 4 of the best singles ever were from the 1950s  or earlier and eight of the best singles ever were by the Arctic Monkeys.  77 of the best singles were from the 70s and almost twice that number dated from the 1990s.

I’m sorry, NME.  You’re just wrong.  Around 450 of the best singles ever came out in the 1970s.  No?  ok, let’s try again.  Maybe a hundred came from the 50s, a hundred from the sixties, two hundred from the seventies and a hundred from the 80s, 90s, 00s and whatever we’re in now, combined.  Now we’re talking. 
Rolling Stone produced a similar list.  It was heavily skewed towards the 60s.  To put it another way, these lists reflect the period when the compiler was a teenager.  And the 1970s were a great time to be a teenager in a record shop. I hit the grand old age of ten in 1971, not yet a record buyer but increasingly aware of what was in the charts. 

Everything from before 1961 was history.  Elvis, Queen Victoria, the Romans.  Didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in them, it just meant they were from before my time.  Things from the 60s weren’t particularly interesting because they’d always been around.  I took the Beatles for granted because they had just been part of the soundtrack of growing up. 
And now the 70s had arrived.  So when I heard something new it was new to everyone.  T.Rex, Bowie, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep. All new, all ripe to be claimed.  Not old folks music, not parent’s music, not uncle’s or big sister’s music.  Mine.  Well that isn’t strictly true.  Older sister had first dibs.  But anything she didn’t like was mine. 
Early days exposure to pop music meant Saturday night variety shows, and later, Saturday morning kids shows.   And of course Top of the Pops.  TOTP was a great equaliser.  If something was in the charts it was on Top of the Pops.  It didn’t matter if it was Clive Dunn’s Grandad, Deep Purple’s Black Night or T.Rex with Get It On.  There was no quality control, other than the record buying public liked it.  The fact that those buying Grandad were not the same people who were buying Get It On was immaterial. 

Interestingly (well, I think so) Grandad was written by Herbie Flowers, who also created the bass line on Walk on the Wild Side and played on Space Oddity.
According to Wikipedia this is what got played on Top of The Pops in 1971.

Lynn Anderson – "Rose Garden",  Atomic Rooster - "Devil's Answer",  Badfinger – "No Matter What",  Cilla Black - "Something Tells Me",  Dana - "Who Put the Lights Out?",  Deep Purple - "Black Night",  Clive Dunn - "Grandad", Family - "In My Own Time",  Greyhound - "Black And White",  The Hollies – "Hey Willy",  Elton John – "Tiny Dancer",  Jackson 5 - "Mama's Pearl",  John Kongos - "He's Gonna Step On You Again",  Lulu - "Everybody's Got the Clap",  Tami Lynn - "I'm Gonna Run Away from You",  Middle of the Road - "Solely, Solely",  The Mixtures - "The Pushbike Song",  The New Seekers - "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", Cliff Richard - "Sunny Honey Girl", "Flying Machine", "Sing A Song Of Freedom",  Clodagh Rodgers - "Jack In the Box", "Lady Love Bug",  The Rolling Stones – "Brown Sugar", "Bitch", "Wild Horses",  Rod Stewart – "Maggie May",  Séverine - "Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue",  Slade "Get Down & Get With It", "'Coz I Luv You",  Tin Tin "Is That the Way?",  T. Rex – "Hot Love", "Get It On",  The Who – "Won't Get Fooled Again".

Not sure how many of those are Top 500.  "Won't get fooled again" certainly, "Coz I Luv You" too, "Maggie May" maybe.  But there's a load of crap there too.  Maybe NME had a point.

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