In Perfect Harmony: Singalong Pop in ’70s Britain

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In Perfect Harmony: Singalong Pop in ’70s Britain

In Perfect Harmony: Singalong Pop in ’70s Britain

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The decade of polyester and cheese is bookended by the huge hit singles ‘Grandad’ and ‘There's No One Quite Like Grandma’ and while it's hard to find much or anything to appreciate in either of those records, Hodgkinson has, on the whole, made a decent case for "bubblegum as high art.

The story of how Kenny Everett’s constant lampooning of the Bee Gees proved to be “…the death knell for the band who took disco to the masses as a serious proposition for years to come. Against a rainy, smog-filled backdrop of three-day weeks, national strikes, IRA bombings and the Winter of Discontent, this unending stream of novelty songs, sentimental ballads, glam-rock stomps and blatant rip-offs offered escape, uplift, romance and the promise of eternal childhood - all released with one goal in mind: a smash hit. Mind you, Hill was reduced to hiring out that Roller with the 'YOB 1' number plate as a wedding car later on, but his immortality had long been assured by then. Writing about Sweet producer, Phil Wainman, he quips “…he favoured rhythmic thumps so brutal they sounded like a cave-dwelling Neanderthal mum banging on a couple of rocks to let her kids know it was time to come home for some roast woolly mammoth. Will Hodgkinson said: “I had a simple goal with In Perfect Harmony: to take seriously the singalong pop of 70s Britain, which so far has not been taken seriously at all.For those too young (or old) at the time to have clear recollections of the ’70s, In Perfect Harmony is a fantastic aid memoir, helping to re-ignite half-forgotten emotions as well as filling in the gaps with a plethora of enlightening details and reminiscences. In Perfect Harmony takes the reader on a journey through the most colour-saturated decade in music, examining the core themes and camp spectacle of '70s singalong pop, as well as its reverberations through British culture. Against a rainy, smog-filled backdrop of three-day weeks, national strikes and IRA bombings, this unending stream of novelty songs, sentimental ballads, glam-rock stomps and finely crafted pop nuggets offered escape, uplift, romance and the promise of eternal childhood - all recorded with one goal in mind: a smash hit.

If you are fortunate enough to be too youthful to have experienced all this first hand, the book provides an atmospheric and faithful insight into our relatively recent past with all the lessons, learnt or not, held therein. In Perfect Harmony takes the reader on a journey through the most colour-saturated decade in music, examining the core themes and camp spectacle of '70s singalong pop, as well as its reverberations through British culture since. The differences between the 1970s and the "new age of plastic" of the 80s are illustrated by comparing the main characters of TV high watermark Minder; Terry was the seventies, "forever bringing chirpy young women back to his dingy flat and being the kind of honest, ordinary Joe who you know would pay his union dues and join the picket line" and Arthur "with his flashy camel coat and clumsy attempts at sophistication" was the eighties incarnate. Hodgkinson, top music critic for The Times and regular Mojo contributor, celebrates the records that people actually exchanged money for at a time when money was as hard to get as it's about to be, arguing quite reasonably that “if a song chimed with the mood of the nation, doesn’t it say something about the time and place it came from”. Against a rainy, smog-filled backdrop of three-day weeks, national strikes, IRA bombings and the Winter of Discontent, this unrelenting stream of novelty songs, sentimental ballads, glam-rock stomps and blatant rip-offs offered escape, uplift, romance and the promise of eternal childhood - all released with one goal in mind: a smash hit.Biography: Will Hodgkinson is author of the music books Guitar Man, Song Man and The Ballad of Britain. During the era of the three-day week, strikes, and - Oi, Oi - energy shortages, British ears turned en masse to cheery and optimistic fare, and who could blame them? The reasonably minded are now picturing Hill, perhaps dressed as a nun from outer space, and nodding.

In Perfect Harmony is a loving paean to the artists of the time set against the volatile historical backdrop; an evocative and insightful book in which author Will Hodgkinson brings to life the hardships but also the fun and frivolity of the time. We are also treated to a rollercoaster revisitation of the wider popular culture of the time with references to the comforting presence of Morecambe and Wise, Delia Smith, Tommy Cooper, The Good Old Days and Tiswas as well as the more sinister presence of Jimmy Saville, Gary Glitter, The Black And White Minstrels and Love Thy Neighbour; a reflection of a rich melting pot beset by the thinly veiled tensions which epitomised the times. Will Hodgkinson is author of the music books Guitar Man, Song Man, The Ballad of Britain and the childhood memoir The House is Full of Yogis. The 1970s was a remarkable decade which saw Britain creaking under the strain of social and political turmoil. To the art school-educated Bowie/Roxy Music fans," or those pretentious sorts we mentioned in paragraph one, "Slade might have seemed hopelessly recherché; the kind of people for who a shag carpet in the bathroom and a personalised number plate on the Roller were the height of sophistication" but, as our guide points out.

In Perfect Harmony is a definitive work; the rosetta stone for anyone interested in the true cross generational people's pop soundtrack of the 1970s. Stereo Review magazine opined that “The emotional connection between the Carpenters and their songs is about as strong as my last resolution to stop smoking. Someone had to explore the geopolitical significance of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Middle of the Road.



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