I spend so much time in my car, that I would rather be homeless than without my ride. Whether I’m traveling for work, fighting vicious Atlanta area traffic during my commutes to home and office, or just running errands and attending events for my family, I think I live in my car as much as my house. That’s where I listen to a lot of the music I love. When my wife and daughters are with me, I tune out their pop and country tunes and have my own favorite songs I’ve heard thousands of times, playing in my head.
My music freak sister-in-arms, Jen from http://www.jenkehl.com requested a 1970s, part 1, playlist for her famed weekly series, Twisted Mixtape Tuesday. Despite growing up in the southern United States, my favorite 70s genres are glam and punk. Almost all rock music that followed in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s was directly influenced by the daring drunks of the bell bottoms era. While they were turned on by 1950s and 1960s rockabilly, garage rock, and psychedelia, their experimentation with feedback, distortion, speed, drugs, costumes, sleaze, and alternative lifestyles created musical templates that weren’t appreciated until much later. Most of what I’m about to play for you, I didn’t discover until I was my oldest daughter’s age, 17. It was 1987 by then, and a lot of these guys were dead, forgotten, or borderline respectable in poppier fields. But in the early 1970s, they were vanguards.
We can fight about who the glam rock King really was, David Bowie or Marc Bolan (they were close pals and friendly rivals who intentionally tried to outdo one another). Bolan struck first, maybe, with his band T.Rex and their epic 1971 album Electric Warrior. I’ve played it so much on this blog, I’m shocked I haven’t heard from the Bolan family (Marc died in 1977 after a car accident) for royalties or attaboys. With its boogie woogie piano opening and landmark riffs, (bang a gong) Get It On is a classic.
Less than a year later, David Bowie created one of rock and roll greatest albums and set the high water mark for glam and proto-punk music. If you don’t own 1972′s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, there’s something seriously wrong with you and we can’t be friends. Also, if you hear or read a top ten list of all-time greatest guitar players and Mick Ronson isn’t on it, then it has no credibility. Listen to what this man did in 3 minutes and 15 seconds. He changed the game as did his boss, Bowie.
The man who meant the world to Bowie, and whom Bowie and Bolan both later helped during a rough period, Lou Reed, made a record, Transformer, in 1972 that future rockers have studied like a Rosetta Stone of music. The lead track, Vicious, introduced feedback heavy guitar and snarling, dark lyrics to a newer, younger audience, and most of them formed bands we know and love, today. Lou’s white face on the album cover tripped people out, especially the ones that didn’t see A Clockwork Orange.
One of my favorite bands ever, was too far ahead of its time to be appreciated. That’s why they’re touring now, despite three of its members being dead. The New York Dolls were too crazy, too weird, too stoned, and too outrageous for 1973. Had they come out three years later, they may have been household names. Then again, I don’t think any of their members could have stayed straight regardless of the year. Their debut record is brilliant. Johnny Thunders’ guitar work is amazing. Every song could have been chosen but Looking For A Kiss is the only one I haven’t played previously on this blog. The Dolls’ manager in 1975 was Malcolm McLaren of Sex Pistols’ fame. You’ll hear more about him next week, for the 1970s part 2. He went back to England and well, you should know what happened next.
Wayne’s World made this next song mainstream famous. It should have been bigger than everything in 1974. From the opening drum fill to lead singer Brian Connolly asking his boys Steve, Andy, and Mick if they were ready, Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz is unforgettable. It’s pure rock and roll with a glam sheen. It’s an earworm that kills other earworms. Inspired by a gig in 1973 where a rowdy Scottish crowd at the Kilmarnock Grand Hall pelted them with beer bottles, Sweet released Blitz a year later and returned to Scotland as rock gods. You can’t here this and not speed down the road clapping and screaming.
I’m supposed to only play 5 songs but you’re getting a sixth because after listening to it, you’ll see why it was so important to part 2 of my 1970s playlist next week. Punk bands used this song to learn how to play. It’s ridiculous, cheesy, and completely awesome. The speedier guitar is telling. Sweet turned this song down from rock and roll songwriting team, Nicky Chinn & Mike Chapman, because they thought it was too much like Ballroom Blitz. But when unknown Scottish rockers, Mud, got a hold of it, they turned everything up, got snotty, sped through it, and created a new deal. Here’s Dynamite.
100 word song returns tomorrow, as does Soul To Body, my fictional short story. I’ve written 2 chapters of the a sequel to my first book, The Ballad of Helene Troy which is is still available, digitally, on amazon/kindle, smashwords.com, and Good Reads. It’s also available in paperback from Lulu.com or signed copies from Pound Publishing headquarters. Prepare for Helene to return around Thanksgiving. Italian Radio, my second book is looking like a mid July release. Helene and Ramona Gallery made cameos in it.
Go see Jen at http://www.jenkehl.com or the other music loving freaks there and check out their 1970s playlist. Next week, here, punk rock.