On 2nd October 2017, Tom Petty died following a heart attack. His unexpected passing marked one of the blackest days of the year, since Tom always felt like someone who would always be there and always be part of life’s fabric. The fact that he left behind a marvellous body of work – most of which never seems to age – means that in some way, he’ll always be a part of millions of lives, but the idea that we’ll never hear a new Tom Petty album is very hard to comprehend, especially so soon after critically acclaimed works like ‘Hypnotic Eye’ and ‘Nobody’s Child.
Those last records featured tracks that were potentially as solid as anything Petty had ever recorded, lending weight to the fact that he was one of the finest and arguably most consistent songwriters of his generation.
On this day in 1995, Grateful Dead bandleader Jerry Garcia passed away. His legacy remains as strong as ever and Dead fans across the globe still hold the band’s work in very high regard. Despite some top quality studio albums, it was always in the live setting when Jerry and the band really became something special.
Like most bands with long careers, of course, the Dead didn’t always get it right. They’d sometimes get it spectacularly wrong (as was the case with a late 80s show with Stephen Stills). With Grateful Dead’s official live releases now numbering several dozen and hundreds of bootlegs still in circulation, the world of Dead live recordings can be a minefield.
At the midpoint of the decade, 1974 appeared to have no definite dominant genres, but that allowed for a very varied singles chart. 1975 very much follows that trend, but pushes some of the focus back to great albums.
Maybe as a reaction to the previous year, though maybe just coincidence, 1974 didn’t have the all round focus of it’s forebears. Whereas 1973 had been a home to various albums that have spanned generations, ’74’s best strengths were in the singles market.
Bowie’s escalating drug habit left him with ideas of an unfinished musical and an album that’s arguably his most unfocused of the decade. ‘Rebel Rebel’, however, remains a great and enduring single cut, brimming with the last vestiges of glam. Lulu did an excellent job of covering ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ and ‘Watch That Man’, filling both sides of an essential 7″, Ace’s ‘How Long’ – while easily dismissed as soft radio filler has stood the test of time and now sounds like a near perfect piece of songcraft, while everyone’s favourite ragamuffin, David Essex, topped the UK chart with a smart and disposable single about making disposable pop music.
It was fifty years ago today…that the world was first introduced to Sgt. Pepper. It’s hard to imagine, at this point, that there was even a time when the album didn’t exist. Whether you consider yourself a fan or not, for the past two generations the album has become omnipresent. Two generations of people have loved it and hated it, while those who have yet to hear the record itself will still be aware of it’s presence. Visiting a record shop, there’s a good chance that its technicolor collage artwork will be seen. It’s always there; for most of us, it’s always been there.