Saturday, July 19, 2008

From The Cool Side Of The Seventies: Herbie Hancock's Vein Melter

Put down the '70s all you want, but culturally it was a very good period for some things.

It wasn't the finest period for jazz. But, the fusion movement was interesting, and it turned enough members of a new generation, people like me, on to jazz generally that we went back and "rediscovered" the great past eras. Like, Forties bop, Fifties "cool" jazz and hard bop, and early Sixties "free" jazz. Now I even like some of the stuff recorded before the early '40s. The music of "The Jazz Age" of the Twenties and the swing of the Thirties was often more commercial than the later stuff, but it had many high points.

Anyway, the '70s had great jazz moments: Here's one from Herbie Hancock, vintage 1973.

Have a wonderful weekend. -- MJ


Marc McDonald said...

I can't understand why anyone would put down the 1970s. It was a great decade for art and culture. And society hadn't yet been dumbed down. (Most people back then still read a daily newspaper, for Chrissakes---and what's more, there was actually some decent journalism still being produced).

By contrast, our society today is infantile and shallow.

Nixon may have been an asshole. But he wasn't a stunningly vacant moron like George W. Bush.

And as far as the economic woes of the 1970s, consider this: America was an infinitely stronger nation back in those days. We weren't drowning in oceans of debt. We still had a manufacturing base. We still had a decent public school system, compared to the Third World-like mess we have today.

And when Jimmy Carter called for other nations to respect human rights, he was taken seriously (by contrast, nations today laugh out loud at the idea of Bush's America calling for respecting human rights).

Yes, I'd prefer the 70s any day over what we have today, in our declining, bankrupt, corrupt, rotten-to-the-core society.

Manifesto Joe said...

Marc, the '70s seem either the last vestige of the great postwar period for America, or the beginning of a long period of decadence, depending on how you look at it -- the first half of the decade, or the second; a glass half full, or half empty.

If you look at the '70s until about '74-'75, one could argue that it was a time when expectations were appropriately downsized, when political goals became more realistic, when an environmental movement emerged for a while, and there was much more of a movement toward personal freedom than younger people can imagine now.

But think back, truly, on the America of '78-'79. I remember this time as the great emergence of insidious cultural decadence in this country. It coincided with the rise of the Religious Right, the resurrection of the doctrines of deregulation and laissez-faire, and a general cultural malaise, most vividly manifested in Top 40 radio and the collapse of standards in journalism, especially in TV news.

Basically, '78-'79 was the end of the good postwar qualities, and the beginning of the decadence that is with us more than ever in 2008.

When you say society hadn't yet been dumbed down -- true, I think, in '74. By '79, it was rampant. All you had to do was turn on a TV set, or a pop music radio station, and the assault on your IQ was everywhere. It has continued to this day with little interruption.

Marc McDonald said...

>>general cultural malaise, most
>>vividly manifested in Top 40

I think radio itself was the problem, not the music being produced in that era.

In the 1960s, much of the best pop music around got radio play (from Hendrix to The Stones to The Doors).

By contrast, in the 1970s, radio pretty much ignored the best music that was around.

I remember how my life was changed by masterpieces like Elvis Costello's "Get Happy!" and I recall being stunned that this music was being ignored by radio. (It was clearly among the best music of that era).

The problem is that radio programmers then were a bunch of aging hippies, who were reluctant to give up their music to make way for the new. They insisted on playing the same old shit over and over until radio became as much of a dinosaur as the tired playlists they continued to peddle.

As a result, a lot of people (like me) simply turned off the radio forever.

"Radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
trying to anaesthetise the way that you feel"
----"Radio, Radio" by Elvis Costello.

Ranga's doodles said...

70's were a great period for rock music. Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart the names are endless. Simon Garfunkel though strictly not in the Rock category chipped in once in a while with some good sounds. I was in my college days and I can never forget Woodstock.

dr sardonicus said...

At the beginning of the 70's, most radio stations were still programmed in-house. Also, the early album rock stations pretty much let the jocks play what they wanted. By the end of the decade, the consultants had taken over. Kent Burkhart, Lee Abrams, and Jeff Pollack are some of the main villains in this story.

Also, during the 70's, you couldn't own more than five AM's and five FM's overall. Much of radio's decline has to do with the relaxation of ownership quotas.