The Great 70’s Project: 1978

1977 saw a change on the UK music front as punk made a fairly grand entrance.  It wasn’t the giant new broom that revisionists will have you believe, as disco and pop still had a strong grip and the prog rock bands remained a fixture in the album charts.

Perhaps the greatest thing the punk movement brought was the idea that such energy could be used to create great three minute songs. In 1978, utilising the energies of punk and a firm grasp of radio friendly pop choruses, bands like Blondie and The Jam went from strength to strength.

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The Great 70s Project: 1975

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.

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The Great 70s Project: 1971

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…

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W.A.S.P. – The Headless Children

The_Headless_ChildrenAfter the release of three studio albums and a live record, by 1988 US shock-rockers W.A.S.P. had gained a loyal fan-base.  However, thanks to their potentially objectionable songs and frontman Blackie Lawless’s larger-than-life attitude, the band had even more detractors. Since their stage show featured raw meat, torture racks and naked women and their albums were filled with more profanity and sexist material than most bands had dared to commit to plastic by that point on the time line of hard rock history, they made life-long enemies with Tipper Gore and her self-righteous band of moral guardians in the US.

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EDITORIAL COMMENT: Incomplete (or rambling thoughts on collecting from an obsessive music fan)

Right up to the 1980s, things were fairly simple as a music fan.  Your favourite bands released singles and albums and, as a loyal fan, you bought them knowing you’d kept to your end of the bargain.  Sometimes singles weren’t part of albums and in that case you got something extra.   Things started to change in the 1980s when the picture disc started to make regular appearances, thus meaning an occasional extra purchase.  Labels like ZTT (run by business-minded Trevor Horn and Paul Morley) were quick to capitalise on marketing strategies – with bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, they made sure that different formats had different mixes and different edits.  In the case of the fledgling cassette single, they even went an extra step by including unreleased bits and pieces from the cutting room floor, often to fans’ bemusement and eventual delight.

Not everyone was as keen to play the game.  Towards the end of the decade, Morrissey – in a spiteful lyrical snide against his then record company’s repackaging of Smiths material – gave us the lyrical legend “reissue, reissue, repackage…re-evaluate the songs, extra track and a tacky badge”. Some bands stuck rigidly to the old model of single release followed by album…and then a couple more singles (often with something extra on the b-side, sure; but once that was done, you knew that was it, at least until the next outpouring of new material in a couple of years).

By the mid-90s, albums would occasionally appear as special editions.  This usually involved a bonus disc containing a handful of extra songs (or in the case of The Beautiful South’s excellent ‘Carry On Up the Charts’ anthology, a whole disc of hard to find b-sides) or live material.  Another easy choice for the consumer: you chose to buy either the standard release or fork out a few extra quid for that bonus disc – job done, everybody happy.  Bon Jovi’s ‘Keep The Faith’ was among the first to mark a shifting tide towards fan-testing, record company greed when the special edition appeared months after the original album’s release.  This staggered release ensured almost everyone had purchased ‘Keep The Faith’ already…but would they buy it again?  Of course they would – if not everyone, then at least a good proportion of the die-hards would want that extra material.  Why wouldn’t they?  The floodgates were open.

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