1973 was something of a banner year for progressive rock. That year, Pink Floyd released their billion selling ‘Dark Side of The Moon’; Genesis released a career best with ‘Selling England By The Pound’; a double whammy from Gong – ‘Flying Teapot’ and ‘Angels Egg’ – cemented their place in the psych-prog underground; both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer released albums that would go on to become fan favourites, and Mike Oldfield became an instant national treasure with his ‘Tubular Bells’, despite his Piltdown Man scaring the shite out of a generation of small children.
Picture the scene: it’s a very cold afternoon in Kent, the rain is absolutely lashing down, and a crowd covered in pac-a-macs has assembled in front of the Prog Stage at the first ever Ramblin’ Man Fair. Weird prog/fusion ensemble Knifeworld have already started to create a buzz online and for some hardened proggers, the band’s early set time has been reason enough to leave their hotel rooms before lunch and brave the near apocalyptic weather.
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.
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 is normally customary at this time of year for Real Gone to put together a brief round-up of the year’s high points, detailing our top ten releases of the previous twelve months and drawing attention to a few more great recordings that didn’t quite make the cut.
This year – 2016 – has been somewhat different. Somewhat challenging, to say the least. That’s not to say there hasn’t been good music, since there has been various gems to be discovered throughout the previous twelve months (and we shall be sharing our thoughts on such things with you in due course), but most of the positive feelings surrounding the year have been clouded by the spectre of death.