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1970's Pop Music Trends and Culture

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Todd Stalter

on 23 November 2016

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Transcript of 1970's Pop Music Trends and Culture

A study in musical and cultural diversity and the beginning of urban influence in American during the "Me" decade
1970's Popular Music and Culture
In 1961 the Federal Communications Commission granted permission for FM transmitters to use multiplex transmitting (two signals being broadcast simultaneously on one channel allowing for stereo broadcast). In 1965 the FCC ruled that cities with a population greater than 100,000 people had to have at least 50% different programming content on their FM stations vs. AM stations. This allowed for progressive and alternative rock to have increased exposure, and created a venue in which newly developed styles of popular music could be heard.
Some background...
These events paved the way for what was to become the Rock of the 1970’s; on one hand, gifted musicians explored music that stressed the technical aspects of musicianship within rock music, which led to albums that were intended to be listened to from beginning to end as a complete artistic entity, not just for "singles" to be played on the radio: on the other, a sort of “repackaging” of the music into distinctive style areas helped popularize Rock music and make it the dominant mainstream genre. These style areas are mostly what will be discussed in this unit.
The influence of The Beatles on the entire landscape of Popular Music revolutionized the industry in every way possible, all the way from innovative studio recording techniques to increasing the spectrum of what was musically and artistically possible and acceptable in the pop genre.
Art rock is an album-based form containing complex compositions and extended instrumental explorations. Music that is appealing more intellectually and musically not formulated (as much of pop is) for mass consumption. It usually has a story or message found in its suite of songs. This is a direct descendant of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but with a harder and more technical edge.
Art Rock (also known as
Progressive Rock)

Art Rock of the early/mid 1970’s can be
traced to Iron Butterfly's 1968 song
“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Prominent bands
include Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Queen, Rush.
Art Rock began as a primarily British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility, to make it more serious than Pop music. The music would often feature the use of synthesizers and keyboards even more than guitars. Artists attempted to combine rock with jazz or classical stylistic approaches because of their higher technical and musical demands; this was music intended for listening and not dancing.
Music was allowed and encouraged to be original; artists in general were not trying to strictly copy other artists. Record labels gave much more artistic freedom to their artists, which produced a wide variety of less formulaic, non format-specific music. Essentially, record companies wanted to find the "next Beatles," whoever they might be, and were willing to spend big bucks to pamper their artists if they thought they had enough talent (so long as they were making the label money, of course).
A musical genre formed from the fusion of Rock with Country music. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was one of the first country bands to embrace rock and pop sounds, and incorporate them into their sound. In 1972 it was the supergroup The Eagles, inspired by Crosby Stills & Nash, that gave "Country Rock" a more personal and universal meaning, from the melancholy western vignettes of Desperado (1972) to the robust rock of Hotel California (1976).
Southern Rock and Country Rock
A branch of Country Rock known as Southern Rock featured bands from the Southern US and flourished throughout the 1970's.
Their blues-rock approach (a combination of blues, country and R&B) incorporated long jams influenced by jazz and elements of country and R&B with a Southern feel. Some of the most popular artists of the genre were The Marshall Tucker Band, The Allman Brothers, The Doobie Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Artists who wrote their own songs and performed them as soloists or with backing bands made up of studio musicians. These songs were patterened after the early 1960’s “white bread” pop tunes, and mainly covered subjects like love, romantic angst, and teenage innocence. Artists include Paul Williams, John Denver, Mac Davis, Neil Diamond, and occasionally duos such as The Carpenters, and The Captain and Tenille.
The Solo Songwriter
Artists who were higher caliber musicians and writers of more meaningful lyrics include
Joni Mitchell, Elton John,
Carole King, Billy Joel, Carly Simon, and James Taylor.
Listening Example: "Marcie" by Joni Mitchell

Listen for the advanced literary and poetic devices in the lyrics.

And, her use of complex harmonies and flawless technique on the 12-string guitar are quite notable.
A genre of dance music built on a steady four-on-the-floor beat with an eighth note or sixteenth note hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat and prominent syncopated bass line, and features slick and artful instrumental arrangements.
Disco...the sound of the
mid to late 1970's.

The disco sound was also shaped by the legendary Tom Moulton who, wanting to extend the enjoyment of the music, single-handedly created the concept of the "Remix“ (an alternative version of a song), an approach that has influenced many other latter genres such as Rap, Hip-Hop and Pop.
People danced to this music at clubs called Discotheques, which initially were clubs where the gay community in NYC gathered. The music was born out of a need that radio airplay could not fill at the time; people still wanted to dance to music...although dancing was demonized by the counterculture in the 1960’s, and dance music did not receive much radio play due to rock’s domination of the airwaves. These clubs were patterned after the black dance parties of the 1950’s; "Discos" became so successful they changed almost overnight from being marginalized and discriminatory, to THE chic social outlet for the entire yuppie culture. Disco became a mass-market phenomenon, and gave birth to the acrobatic dance movement (Break Dancing) and to the modern concept of the club DJ.
Although the music itself was fairly innocent in nature, over time,
Discotheques became symbols of the yuppie excesses of out-of-control
partying and binging behavior, loose sexual morals, and places where
the use of illegal drugs was considered a societal norm
(see the history of Studio 54 in New York).
Disco has its musical roots in late 1960s soul and the Motown sound.
The term disco was first used in print in an article by Vince Aletti in the
September 13, 1973 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine titled
"Discotheque Rock '72: Paaaaarty!“
The release of the film and soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever in December of 1977, which became the number one best-selling soundtrack of all time, turned Disco into a mainstream music genre more than any other single factor.
Shares some elements of Disco music (in fact, Soul Music is the immediate ancestor of Disco), but tends to have a slower groove. Lyrics speak of the experiences and emotions of the inner city ghetto black culture, but not in a violent or aggressive way. Popular Soul artists include Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Isaac Hayes; Funk artists include Kool and the Gang, Stevie Wonder, The Commodores, Earth Wind and Fire, Parliament.
Urban Contemporary (Soul and
Funk music)

In many ways, this music IS the "Soundtrack of the 1970's" in that television was beginning to focus on inner city black culture with family shows like "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times." The popularity of "real life" cop shows like "Dragnet," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Adam 12," and detective shows like "Barnaby Jones" testify to the interest that white America had with what was happening in America's largest cities. Even children's shows like "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company" featured hip urban dudes!
Most children in the 70's became familiar with terminology that came straight out of the inner city..."Can you dig it?" "Far out" "Honkey" "Jive Turkey" "The Man" "You know" "Chill" "Bummer" "Like" "What it is" "Airhead" "Bogus" "Do me a solid" "Foxy mama" "The Fuzz" "Heavy" "Narc" ...I could go on and on!
"Soul Train" (the black alternative to "American Bandstand" on TV) gives validation to the culture of black youth, and there is a market to be tapped!
No one knew then that inner city black culture would eventually dominate the American youth's music, dress, and outlook via Rap and Hip Hop music from the mid-1980's until the present day.
•The term "heavy metal" was first used in a musical sense by Steppenwolf in the song "Born to Be Wild,” when they referred to "heavy metal thunder.” Today it is used in America to generically refer to music that has a "harder edge" than rock music. The heavy metal sound of the 1970’s developed using a thick, heavy guitar-and-drums-centered sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion and fast guitar solos. Also said to be the most extreme in volume machismo, and theatrics of all genres. It was, at first, a British teenage reaction to the bland pop music that had become popular in Britain after the breakup of The Beatles.
Heavy Metal and Punk Rock
Some of the genre’s earliest groups were Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Foghat. Others were very “glam” and used crazy onstage theatrics and antics to attract attention (Alice Cooper, KISS).
In the mid-1970s, the band Judas Priest helped spur the genre's evolution by discarding much of its blues influence. The resulting New Wave of British Heavy Metal followed in a similar vein, introducing a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed in musical technique.
Punk Rock is an anti-establishment (goes against the conventional principles of a society) rock music genre and movement that emerged in the mid-1970s. It was also a reaction to the sophistication, and in many cases, the pretense of big, elaborate rock productions, be they art rock or slickly-produced pop singers.

Developed between 1974 and 1976 in the underground clubs in New York City, London, and Australia, where groups such as The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The New York Dolls, The Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, and The Clash were recognized as the vanguard of a new musical movement. By 1977, punk was spreading around the world.

Music was generally fast and hard-edged, with short songs with stripped-down instrumentation and often political or argumentative lyrics. The genre was that of rebellion and is characterized by distinctive clothing styles, a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies, and a “me against the world” mentality.
The New York Dolls
"Personality Crisis"
The Supergroup is a band made up of musicians that had previously played with other famous bands, getting together to form a new group that showcases their talents and musicianship, due to their being frustrated with the limitations of their earlier groups.

This is where the phrase "creative differences" comes from :-)
The Supergroup
For example: guitar gods Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton were all part of the great British band The Yardbirds.

Jimmy Page left to form Led Zeppelin, Beck formed his own Jeff Beck Group, and Eric Clapton left to record as a solo act (his band, Derek and the Dominos and scored a No. 1 hit with “Layla”) and also as part of the supergroup power trio Cream with Ginger Baker (formerly of Jack Mayall's Blues Breakers on drums, and Jack Bruce on bass.

Bruce and Baker were known to despise each other and sometimes sabotaged each other’s equipment and fought onstage).
Who and What is left over? It is impossible to fit every artist into a niche, and cover ALL of what the 1970’s were about…where do we put Abba, Bruce Springsteen, Todd Rundgren, Jackson Browne, Electric Light Orchestra…??? What about genres like New Wave, Space Rock, Roots Rock, Nostalgia, Dub, Talk Over, Afro Rock…?

What about Country Music of the 1970’s, which was VERY popular in America…Emmylou Harris, Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Rogers, Mickey Gilley, Ronnie Milsap, Anne Murray…?

Some great research material there for those of you who are into that music!
Disco was full of popular male AND female artists...The Village People, The Bee Gees, Donna Summer...there was something for everyone.
"In the old days, we had just two weeks to record an album. Man, it takes me two weeks just to find a comfortable stool to sit on in the studio." - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, guitarist for Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers.
July 12, 1979 "The Day Disco Died"
Disco Demolition Night at a Chicago White Sox game! Bring your disco records and we'll blow them up between games! Well, we all know how that turned out...
ARENA ROCK

An attempt to return to a more true, classic Rock and Roll sound, led by bands driven by heavy guitar and strong vocals. Boston, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, and a host of similar bands garnered success using the formula of playing local and regional bar circuits before they hit the "bit time."
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