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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3rd May - Young Hearts Run Free

Today, I've started with the theme song - Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton - a massive hit in 1976, when the weather was sunny and glorious - perhaps a once in a lifetime summer.

Recent good weather - even though a recent trip to Barcelona for a planned early warm blast of air left us shivering in temperatures a good 10 degrees cooler than at home - left me thinking that maybe just maybe we could have another one of those summers.

The rugby pitch at Burton is like a rock, with players coming off with grazes etc. from the hard ground. I can't do my gardening - yippee!!!!

1976 has got to be the year when music died. Lawrie Lingo and the Dipsticks, JJ Barrie - No Charge, Brotherhood of Man and the Worzels were the highlights????? I'm sure that our parents were also disappointed with the younger generation. Parents who had grooved to Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and the dead Elvis didn't expect their rock and roll rebellion to end up in A Royal Variety Show pastiche of pop music. Then again they also were worried about the 30 minute, 1 album side dirges by bands such as Yes, Van Der Graff Generator. (Probably drug fuelled as it needed you to be comatose to listen to it.)

At that time, things were changing amongst kids. There was the Northern Soul movement - something started in Wigan with outposts in Stoke and Blackpool (Twisted Wheel and the Torch clubs), but that didn't really go south of Birmingham. It also was about music that was obscure, unreleased and certainly not on Top of the Pops, but was ours, not what the Hairy Monster and Tony Blackburn wanted to promote to us. (I often wonder of they were paid to promote the drivel that was on Top of the Pops.)

In August that year, I stayed with an Aunt in Brixton (Railton Road). We walked one day through Brixton, in the blistering heat with all the windows open on the flats and houses. Out of the windows was heavy reggae beats, and rastas chilled listening along with a faint perfumy smell, which I later learnt was ganga. I had heard a bit of ska before - Young Gifted and Black (Bob and Marcia), Double Barrell - Dave and Ansell Collins, but to me Bob Marley was a black rock star not a reggae star, so had not made the connection that this music was going to be so massive.

One night we went to Bromley to a pub. That was the start of the punk movement that hadn't quite broke yet. (New Rose - Damned and Anarchy in the UK - Sex Pistols had yet to hit the charts). People were wearing ripped tee-shirts, safety pins, plastic, trousers and spiking their hair. The music was loud and unrecognisable with its feedback and lack of structure. Something was stirring and the Pop music was about to be reclaimed by the kids. Both Siouxsie Sioux and Boy George refer to the music scene in Bromley during that summer in their auto-biographies - for one night I was part of it - I wonder if they were there that night?

After that summer the thunder came, to break the nice weather. The music scene was the most exciting, diverse and creative it has ever been until the mid-80's when the music business took control again. The reggae fused with kids who wanted to make their own music - The Clash emerged from this, and in Coventry Two Tone with the Specials, and Selecta took it in a different direction. The Mod style music of the Northern Soul scene emerged with bands such as The Jam, Lambrettas. Each city developed its own music - Belfast had the Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers, Manchester had Joy Division and The Buzzcocks. Some of the cleverest lyrics were written then - Elvis Costello -Girls Talk - 'You may not be an old fashioned girl but you are going to get dated' being one of the best examples. When compared with that great rock classic - Imagine - John Lennon - 'Imagine there's no heaven' - Why, you pointless hippy? Music again was a teen thing, expressing what mattered to us - shocking our parents just for the hell of it, before we went home to our Geography homework.

When I hear the rubbish promoted by Simon Cowell as pop music, I must admit as a parent I am shocked. Why do the kids today let an ageing botoxed control freak let karaoke singers ruin someone else's original songs - (think When World's Collide) as a prime example. The kids are supposed to be shocking me with what you are doing with music and culture. I just don't see it- show me. I know there's a bedroom music scene, where you mix your own tracks for posting on Yourtube or where-ever, but please please please find your own culture before you morph into that responsible adult with job, spouse, mortgage, 1.8 kids etc. You won't have anything to smile about on that glorious summer's day, thinking of the musical explosion that was about to happen in autumn 1976.

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