Between May and July 2017, Real Gone embarked on an ambitious audio project. A huge library of streaming audio, ‘The Great 70s Project’ became one of the year’s most popular features.
The plan was to delve deep into the decade’s music, but dig much deeper than revisiting the hits. We hoped that by presenting the hits alongside some fabulous album cuts and neglected b-sides, our look at the decade would create new favourites and also encourage listens to long neglected albums.
The mention of 1976 for most people over a certain age in the UK will invariably invoke remembrances of one of the hottest summers on record. There’s more to the year than just drought, though. There’s disco, classic rock and pop.
It was also the year that punk broke into the mainstream. A whole new world of music was born.
It was the year we checked into ‘Hotel California’ for the first time…and with it becoming a radio staple, true as the song’s tale, we never really left. Queen followed their ambitious ‘Night At The Opera’ with the equally grand ‘A Day At The Races’ and Jeff Beck continued his voyage into fusion with ‘Wired’. As Real Gone’s Great 70s project reaches 1976, we take a dip into those classic albums and far more besides.
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.
Running a second poll for Genesis covering their more commercially sucessful (and arguably more radio friendly) years was always going to divide opinion. Naturally, as Real Gone’s last poll shows, there are many people very keen on the 70s prog side of the band who just never took to the more commercial Genesis. Likewise, the band picked up fans throughout the 80s who just never quite understood the earlier work.
When Steve Hackett left Genesis at the end of the ‘Wind & Wuthering’ tour in 1977, for some of the more dyed-in-the-wool prog fans, that signified too much of a potential change waiting in the wings. The fact that the three-man band of Phil Collins (drums/vocals), Mike Rutherford (guitars/bass) and Tony Banks sounded more commercial upon their return and even scored a genuine hit single with a pop ballad marked the end for some. For those, supper had gone cold. For the fans Genesis lost at this time, their new, more commercial sound gained new fans in droves and although the band became far less prolific – partly due to all three members embarking on extra-curricular recording – it marked the beginning of a very commercially successful decade.