woensdag 15 november 2017

1971. Never A Dull Moment. David Hepworth

Every one experiences a year that is defining for his taste(s) in music. For writer David Hepworth that was the year he came of age, 1971. There is one difference between the importance all others give to their respective years: Hepworth claims he is right about his year. According to him 1971 was the most important year in popular music. In 12 chapters, one for each month, he goes about proving he is right. As he admits, every one will have his year. Let me add that with the right amount of research and the ability to write well others may get a long way proving it as well. He does have a few fair points though.

I bought 1971 on the same day as I bought John Savage's '1966' (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2016/12/1966-year-decade-exploded-jon-savage.html). Personally I tend more towards the latter book, than the former, but that aside.

In his book Hepworth gives his readers a host of stories, facts and gossip about music and the music industry. Where music industry moguls lost all control in 1966, when things started happening that they could no longer control and certainly did not understand, in 1971 a new generation of music moguls started to take over and we on their way building their own empires. Whether new or on the building blocks of old, industry stepped back in and took control over musical careers as artists would soon start to find out.

1971. Never A Dull Moment takes its title from a 1972 Rod Steward LP from after his major breakthrough in 1971 with 'Every Picture Tells A Story'. The album that was the true starting point of a career that lasts right up until today. Hepworth shows more signs of the turns some artists made in that year that defined the rest of their career. The Rolling Stones and music publishing e.g.. Only in 2017 the tax evasions through Promotone B.V. in Amsterdam is getting serious negative publicity. The band became a business company with a CEO (Jagger) and a board of directors. The way in which singer-songwriters were held in high regard from 1971 onwards, shows how mature the rock market had become. The book holds many of these smaller and bigger stories. All with delightful details that one could only learn by reading up on each individual artist. Something Hepworth obviously has done before connecting the dots between them.

Who slept with whom, who wrote for others -reminding us along the way that gossip magazines didn't exist in 1971-, who was influenced by whom at the exact right moment, who broke through to make a difference and who did not. From the likes of Slade, hitting the big time, to T. Rex and from the transformation of David Bowie to the failure of Big Star and the vision of Roxy Music in 1971, Hepworth touches upon them all, including explanations for longevity and instant, but short success. What he shows in an excellent way is how hard some of the acts worked to gain their success, where others were not able to go to that extremes or just were not good enough, like T.Rex's Marc Bolan or were to insecure like George Harrison.

For me 1971 is not such an important musical year. 1968-1969 may have been the most defining as in that year I started to discover music for myself and in the mid-70s I discovered albums. Of course there are brilliant albums from 1971, but for several albums over which a lot of fuss is showered in this book, like 'What's Going On'; all the singer-songwriters of the time; T.Rex and Sly & The Family Stone to name some, goes that I'm still not hearing it 46 years after the facts. So the conclusion has to be that everyone has his or her own year of defining musical moments. For David Hepworth that is 1971. His book, 1971. Never A Dull Moment, is an extremely enjoyable read, with lots of details that make it worthwhile for most musiclovers of the time to take notice of and enjoy.

Without giving anything away about his conclusions surrounding Elvis Presley shows in 1971, in that he is totally right, but then, the average human being is feeling safer and more secure with what he knows. He overlooks an important fact. New acts are discovered by the day and gain new fans. Hey, even at my age it tends to happen, regularly.


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