The '60s ended a year late - on New Year's Eve 1970, when Paul McCartney initiated proceedings to wind up The Beatles. Music would never be the same again. The next day would see the dawning of a new era.
Nineteen seventy-one saw the release of more monumental albums than any year before or since and the establishment of a pantheon of stars to dominate the next 40 years - Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Rod Stewart, the solo Beatles and more.
January that year fired the gun on an unrepeatable surge of creativity, technological innovation, blissful ignorance, naked ambition and outrageous good fortune. By December rock had exploded into the mainstream. How did it happen?
This audiobook tells you how. It's the story of 1971, rock's golden year.
©2016 David Hepworth (P)2016 Random House Audiobooks
I’ll admit I approached this title with more than a bit of bias, as 1971 was big year for me personally. I was 16, and was facing my last term in a school I loved, before setting off into the wide world of working for a living (University not being an option for ‘the likes of us’ as my old Mum said)
My first job was as a darkroom assistant on a local newspaper. This consisted mainly of spending the best part of my day in a dimly-lit darkroom filled with the odour of developer, stop-bath and fixative. My only company all day was the radio, which was permanently tuned to Radio 1, and which played the same 20 records (the dreaded BBC playlist) every 2 hours, all day long.
I suppose all 16yr-olds consider the music of their adolescence more profound than anyone else’s, and I was certainly no different. But David Hepworth’s excellent book has actually got me believing I was right. So many landmark albums released, so many new artists discovered (most of whom are still with us today) and songs that were a benchmark of their time. We had ‘Tapestry’ by Carole King, ‘After The Goldrush’ by Neil Young, ‘Madman Across the Water’ by Elton John, ‘Who’s Next’ by The Who, ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ by Rod Stewart, and many, many more. And all the while, the career of a Mr David Bowie gains momentum…
This book has been a real joy to listen to, being both a reminder of the music itself but also a glimpse into the back stories of how the songs were made.
If I were to make one minor gripe it would be that author David Hepworth seems to have forgotten he’s narrating an audiobook (in which he’s talking to just one person) and instead he has a tendency to project as if he’s addressing a conference room full of people, which often verges on shouting.
That aside, this is an excellent title and a must for any music lover, but especially those who were 16 in 1971. Now, where’s my turntable?....
I tend to go for fiction so no comparison
Obvs.not a story but I liked ed how Hepwrth took it from what was clearly a bumper year for lps to seeing it as the year that rock started appealing to a different demographic than the single buyer and the fuse was lit on the current rock landscape.
He was a bit slurry (run it at 0.75 speed for the pub bore version) and a bit rushed but generally good.
The USA referenced elements were thinner interms of cultural resonance but still interesting and there's a bit of a sniffy "they would never be this good, again" element to reinforce the point but it's a good listen.
I am an avid audio book listener, having at least two books on the go at any one time and getting through two or so a week.
I was sixteen in 1971. The writer, David Hepworth was 21, and in the music business. He is unabashed in proclaiming 1971 is the most important and fertile year for popular music, and he makes a very good argument. However the book does have its problems, as I said I was 16 at the time and never listened to all the, music which was out there. For example, The Who, whilst I like the band, I was not at the time a fan, and there is virtually a whole chapter on them, meaning very little to me. Indeed I found myself jumping these sections.
Each chapter is a month, he then recounts the music and musical stories of that month. All well and good, but as I say, unless you are a muso like him (or spend the whole book with Google next to you) , you will not know all the music or references. He does tend to wonder off onto how a particular song was written, or why. The end of each chapter he gives his top ten songs of that month, only about half of which I knew, but that may have more to do with me, than his choices.
There are hardly any, indeed if any at all references to straightforward pop music, the book is mainly about the higher end bands The Stones, David Bowie, The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd etc. No Mungo Jerry New Seekers or Dawn! Actually he does include in one top ten list Tie A Yellow Ribbon, but that’s about it. However in fairness he is recounting milestones in music, which these were not..
Not all the book is about music, nor indeed 1971. There are some interesting social history chunks about for instance drinking and smoking back then, and he obviously has to refer to before and after 1971.
Finnaly the narration. Others have said he seems to shout. The narration is not smooth, you can tell it was recoded at different times and he does sometimes seem to rant, I did notice he does seem to get excited trying to make a point, like a politician. I found the narration tolerable, but some may not, so well worth a listen up front before purchasing.
All in all a good book well written, full of fascinating facts and stores of the music scene back then. However, only a certain age group will enjoy it. I will recommend it if you were at least in your teens back then enjoying the contemporary music of that time.
great read. prerequisite to love 70s music! interlaced with the culture and issues of the time. All the musicians that I wanted to hear about and one i had never heard of (Big Star).
he is not fawning and shows proper journalistic disrespect where needed. throughout he speaks as a fan, a well informed one. and he has some lovely humour and engaging turn of phrase.
I hope he could write another look at those classic years from 66 until the music died in 75.
the author reads his prose superbly but...Every pitcher tells a story or Pitchers at an exhibition. worse he does crash thro paragraphs and sometimes full stops so you can't tell that he has moved onto a new topic. he needs a producer!
huge enjoyment - more please
This is every bit as good as I had hoped - a wonderful trip through the music and culture that made 1971 so special and lasting.
I would never previously have considered 1971 to be the zenith of popular music. However it was the year I was born and I was sufficiently piqued to investigate the claim.
Hepworth' narrative style is easy on the ear, almost middle of the road. The subject is obviously well researched and he does add a few interesting opinions of his own. His enthusiasm is apparent.
A fantastic book. While I was very familiar with all of the music here, I hadn't really cottoned on to the fact that this all occurred in such a short period. As the title suggests , there is never a dull moment in this story. Even lesser known artists such as Big Star and Nick Drake that are later recognised for their influence feature as much as the better known names.
Born in 1956 I was just a bit too young for 1971. I "got" music in 1973 I reckon and spent the next few years on rewind to catch-up and get in synch with the zeitgeist. I remember soon discovering the wonderful artists and albums so lovingly featured here; truly they were special because 45 years later their legacy and legend still looms large. I won't list them out here as you will delight upon encountering them as you go...
A wonderfully evocative audiobook that I just didn't want to end. David Hepworth really gets into the heart and soul of the music and he understands that unknowable special quality that is beyond definition yet adds a certain sprinkle of magic to the greatest albums. The early '70s experience of listening to and "being into" music was very different to today's and I for one was several times transported back in time by this evocative audiobook.
Unlike a few other reviewers I felt the narration was perfect; clear and perfectly enunciated.
I even found myself on YouTube looking up a couple of artists that passed me by in the '70s - Big Star anyone? The joy of discovery, which permeated that era, is lovingly rekindled here.
Been waiting to hear this for ages but the sound quality is very poor and sadly David Hepworth needs to pass on the narration skills. He regularly sounds like he was losing his breath and it put me off. The book (and spotify list) is great, so I'll accept that not all audibles are great and buy the book.
Afraid not, I'll stick to his written work, which I love.
I bet the book is great, just up my alley. But the author on this audio version has a really irritating voice, stopped listening to it after a while. I may buy the book because the premise of it fabulous. Sorry David Hepworth, I do love your journalist writings.
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