Were the 70s really this bad?

Even more astonishing is the way the musicians have shut themselves off from pop\’s recent past. You might have thought at least the Beatles\’ oeuvre had swiftly attained standard status, that Yesterday or Something might be precisely the kind of thing the balladeers with the shag-pile sideburns would gravitate towards, but no: it\’s still clearly considered too racy. During my light entertainment marathon, I hear two Beatles songs. One is courtesy of Little and Large: Syd Little sings Till There Was You while Eddie Large interrupts him doing impressions of Deputy Dawg. The other is Can\’t Buy Me Love, performed by the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang: three men huffing away accompanied by a dancing midget in a wig.

Umm, yes, actually, they were.

Lovely piece btw, rtwt.

11 thoughts on “Were the 70s really this bad?”

  1. The 70’s were fucking horrible. You think Little and Large were bad? I actually saw Cannon and Ball in a live performance. This turned out to be a good thing, because it yielded a handy touchstone against which to measure other traumatic events in my life.
    Gordon Brown’s tenure as PM? Cannon and Ball.

    Finding out I have bone cancer? Cannon and Ball.

    Seeing my seven year-old daughter ripped from her mother’s arms and devoured by zombies? Cannon and Ball.

    Jeez, the 70’s were tough.

  2. But even here the Guardian rewrites history

    when you’re drowning in light entertainment pop, you start to get an inkling of why so many people were so eager not just to listen to the Sex Pistols – that’s obvious – but to indulge in all punk’s unsavoury gestures. It’s partly because anything, even dressing up like a Nazi and coming home covered in someone else’s flob, was more entertaining than staying at home and watching three men play harmonicas accompanied by a dancing midget in a wig

    Punk was a reaction to Seventies Rock. Prog rock like Yes and ELP, West Cost rock like the Eagles and much of the prepackaged pop like the Chinn a Chapman stable. My generation were reacting to our elder brothers and sisters favourites, not our parents.

    Was Variety crap? Of course, but then the entertainment changed with the generations. The people who liked Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra didn’t want to hear the Beatles. The people who like Crosby Stills Nash wouldn’t be seen dead with a Clash LP. And the people who went to Variety Clubs didn’t care to hear the latest pop hits (with exceptions: Yesterday and Something were variety staples)

    But this article misses a fundamental point. Variety was the entertainment of the working classes. The bits that made it to TV like Wheel Tapers and The Comedians demonstrate this clearly. Today, entertainment is more middle class. We’ve lost Bernard Manning but we’ve gained Marcus Brigstocke.

  3. Tsk. Culpable ignorance in a music writer. Till There Was You is not a Beatles number. It’s from the 50s musical The Music Man. Lennon was good but he didn’t storm Broadway at the age of 16.

  4. peteswordz

    My point exactly. We traded a working class fascist wanker for a middle class fascist wanker. The Guardian thinks that’s progress.

  5. True, TDK. Think that Johnny Rotten’s t-shirt said “I fucking hate Pink Floyd”, not “I fucking hate Morecambe and Wise”. Still…

    Today, entertainment is more middle class. We’ve lost Bernard Manning but we’ve gained Marcus Brigstocke.

    No, because people watched Bernard Manning while Brigstocke – no a’fence t’im’ – gets three men and an insomniac dog. Variety has been replaced by Britain’s Got Talent.

  6. @TDK – Oct 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm


    My point exactly. We traded a working class fascist wanker for a middle class fascist wanker.

    Correction… “traded an extremely popular working class… … for a middle class fascist wanker who virtually nobody outside the Grauniad and Radio 4 has ever heard of“.

    The Guardian thinks that’s progress.

    I suppose it could be – it limits the fascism to a much smaller audience. 🙂

  7. excuse me…in the 70s once on the Cilla Black Saturday evening drooss cabaret show, Stan Getz (google him)turned up and played a solo bossa nova. Lulu had Anthony Newley presenting rehearsals of his lates show. On Parkinson, he had Buddy Rich, Kenny Everett and Roy Castle larking around…and sammy davis jr just strolled on and did an act,l which involved an unrehearsed numbers with the Buddty Rich band. The 70s were a Golden Age. Nowardays we have the X factor, Simon Cowell (what an artiste) and people imitating other people. those guys in the derided 70s were the real deal.

  8. I even think I remember Placido Domingo appearing on the Cilla Black show…but don’t rely on it.. But if he did, this was the old “working class” Variety bill at its best…when Lawrence Olivier might appear on a bill at the Hackney Empire…

  9. Prodicus –

    You beat me to it regarding “Till There Was You”. But then the piece wasn’t really about music, was it? It was an exercise in sneering at popular taste. And you only need to look at the writer’s credentials – “Guardian’s head rock and pop critic and the music editor of GQ magazine” – to know that he is certain to be ignorant of, and largely uninterested in, music.

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