Friday, October 2, 2020

Ah, Diversity - 50 Years Ago

It was 50 years ago that Black Sabbath released their most famous LP, Paranoid. I'm one to appreciate their less-metal debut, but no one will argue that Paranoid is the forerunner to Heavy Metal. Other bands were as hard-rocking as Black Sabbath – The 13th Floor Elevators, Blue Cheer, The MC5 – but it was Paranoid that ushered in metal. Not only did the album serve as a catalyst, the band's persona created a whole new genre. "Iron Man" remains one of those "riffs that must not be played" (there’s a Harry Potter reference there, if lame) at Sam Ash and Guitar Center. Only "Smoke on the Water" gets played poorly more often.

AM radio, while in its death throes in the early 70s as listeners switched over to the stereo counterpoint, FM, was still in that Top 30 mode that served the eclectic. Listening to a Yachtrock channel on Sirius the other day (you know how I despise that term), it struck me that Sirius and Spotify led to the current lack of diversity. While AM stations were simultaneously the home of Motown, Beatles, R&B, rock and blues (etc.), streaming services offer musical genres and stick to them. AM, indeed, was so diverse that, 50 Years ago, as we listened to "Iron Man" on the local station, the next track could very well be "I Woke Up In Love This Morning" by the Partridge Family.

It was in September 1970 that ABC added to a family line-up that included The Brady Bunch. The Partridge Family debuted as one of the most popular shows of the early 70s. The "band" was headed by Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones - Broadway and movie star) and Keith Partridge (David Cassidy) and backed, not by other "family" members, but by L.A,'s famous session musicians, The Wrecking Crew. The Partridge Family had 9 hits on American Top 40, three in the Top 10, and one, "I Think I Love You," making it to the top spot.

So there you go, diversity in a nutshell, Black Sabbath vs. The Partridge Family.


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