Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Rock Decade

Ten years after would be a very different world. As quickly as the young girls had come to the Canyon, they'd left again. New York wasn't about folk any longer, but about Punk, with CBGBs featuring The Ramones and Blondie and Talking Heads. Los Angeles was establishing its own punk scene, but it was heavy metal that would emerge more prominently. The Bee Gees had left behind any inspiration they'd garnered from The Beatles to become the biggest selling disco artists of the Stayin' Alive era (as sad as that makes me, we were all entranced by Travolta's strut down that Brooklyn Blvd.; admittedly the song as vibrant as ever).

1977 would offer The Sex Pistols and Television, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (No. 1 on the Billboard Album Charts for 31 weeks), The Jam, The Clash and Elvis Costello. Elvis would pass and cassettes would exceed the sale of vinyl. Still there were remnants of the 60s. The Grateful Dead would continue a trend first explored on Mars Hotel that added synths and horns creating an American counterpart to British prog. Terrapin Station would explore the genre to its fullest; a far cry from the debut in 67.

Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, would evolve into January 77’s Animals; the Floyd somehow able to follow-up Dark Side with the often superior Wish You Were Here and then switch gears to create the seminal rock version of Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Joni Mitchell recorded Songs to a Seagull in late 1967 with David Crosby as producer. Crosby's experimental recording technique would backfire leaving the sound quality of the debut somewhat flat and with a lack of sonic range. By 1977, Joni perfected the sonic soundscape creating one of the most impressive jazz recordings of the fusion era, with Jaco Pastorius’s bass a prominent feature on the double LP Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter.

By '77, most of what was taken for granted in the 60s had come to pass, the rock era alongside it. We measure our world first in centuries, but as it turns out, even decades are far too broad. We can divide the sixties in two, with the first five years exemplified in The Beatles' matching suits, and the latter years by Fu Manchus and hippie moxie. The rock era overlaps a bit beginning with Rubber Soul and persevering through disco. It’s startling to note the progress of a generation (twenty years). In 2016, AM’s excursion through the years touted Days of Future Passed as the most influential LP for 1967. Five years later, the choice was Ziggy (Five years, stuck on our eyes).  In 1977, the album of the year was Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True, and in 1982, Springsteen’s Nebraska. Finally, to round out the 20 years, is Guns 'n' Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, which narrowly beat out The Pet Shop Boys’ Actually for 1987. A lot happens in a generation.

At times I regret that AM wallows in the past. From Lord Huron to Sun Kil Moon, my tastes and enthusiasm in music have evolved over the years, though I still look back to the rock renaissance, those years from '67 to '77 and lose myself in the stories, the times, the people, but most specifically, in the music.