1972 AD. The year that bored suburban teens attempted to resurrect Dracula, in a much maligned Hammer film that’s actually quite good fun. The year that Bolan’s musical craft was at its most perfect; the year Ziggy Stardust came to Earth and changed Bowie’s fortunes forever.
Welcome to a look back at some of our favourite music from 1971. In some ways, it seems the perfect continuation of 1970, with the hard rock pioneers releasing some of the best albums of the careers.
Looking elsewhere, though, things are perhaps more interesting…
In the first quarter of 2011 Universal Music released a five disc super-deluxe edition of Elton John’s multi-million selling, career defining ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’. While huge chunks of the album are undeniably great, did we really need another deluxe edition of this when an excellent three disc edition was released (complete with SACD compatible material) ten years previously? There are other parts of Elton’s huge body of works worthy of expanding.
At an unspecific point in 1979, my dad arrived home from work carrying a long playing record. It turned out to be the new Police album. At this point, ‘Message In a Bottle’ had been all over the radio and I knew I liked this new music. My mum, on the other hand did not have quite the same enthusiasm; she’s a bit put out that this does not have ‘Roxanne’ on it. Presumably, the album – like others – had been purchased at Barnaby’s, a record shop (no longer there) very near my dad’s then place of employment; a giant tin shed in which he worked with dangerous acidic chemicals and little regard for health and safety. That Police album (‘Reggatta De Blanc’) got played a lot. If I think hard, I can still see Dad sitting by his Fidelity stereo system lifting the needle onto the record and playing the title track over and over and I remember thinking how fitting it was that the word emblazoned on the front looked a bit like the word fiddle. That piece of music must have spoken to him: decades later, he would still attract my attention by calling my name to the tune of that track.
The sight of my dad coming home with new music in this way was not entirely uncommon.
Let’s not mess around here: fans of Americana will be absolutely smitten after just one listen to this EP from alt-country duo Lewis & Leigh. Their third release in under a year, ‘Hidden Truths’ has a heart wrenchingly gorgeous sound, bringing a perfect blend of country and folk, with a smidgeon of a Wilco-ish influence in the guitar department. Coming together from solo projects, hearing Alva Leigh and Al Lewis harmonise is to hear something natural and pure – voices that belong together as much as Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and these four songs have the natural flow of performers who sound as if they’ve been playing together for years. The fact that at the time of this release Al Lewis and Alva Leigh had only been writing and performing together for a short time only makes ‘Hidden Truths’ all the more remarkable.