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In Perfect Harmony: Singalong Pop in ’70s Britain

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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. 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. Someone had to explore the geopolitical significance of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Middle of the Road.

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. While bands such as Pink Floyd, Queen and Fleetwood Mac were ruling the albums chart; the singles chart was swinging to the tune of million-selling blockbusters by the likes of Brotherhood of Man, the Sweet and the Wombles. 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.

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. 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.

While Hodkinson makes sterling efforts to compartmentalise the information into chapters defined by genres and age groups (The Great Taste Of Bubblegum, Kids, The Disco Of Discontent etc), there are inevitably overlaps and the author often goes where the story takes him, resulting in an organic and fluid read. These were the songs you heard on Radio 1, during Saturday-night TV, at youth clubs, down the pub and even emanating from your parents' record player. 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.Singalong pop in ’70s Britain is a massive subject, especially given the constant juxtaposition of the music and the historical context. 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. The reasonably minded are now picturing Hill, perhaps dressed as a nun from outer space, and nodding. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian, Mojo and Vogue and presented the Sky Arts television series Songbook. Biography: Will Hodgkinson is author of the music books Guitar Man, Song Man and The Ballad of Britain.

Social changes like package holidays cough up fare - Sylvia’s ‘Y Viva Espana’ - that haunt the dreams of those of us who were there because this kind of thing didn't just affect the Brits. 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.In Perfect Harmony takes the reader on a journey through the most colour-saturated era in music, examining the core themes and camp spectacle of '70s singalong pop, as well as its reverberations through British culture since. While bands such as the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac were ruling the albums chart, the singles chart was swinging along to the tune of million-selling blockbusters by the likes of Brotherhood of Man, the Sweet and the Wombles. Online since 2010 it is one of the fastest-growing and most respected music-related publications on the net. These were the songs you heard on Radio 1, on Saturday-night TV, at youth clubs, down the pub and even emanating from your parents' record player.

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”. The 1970s was a remarkable decade which saw Britain creaking under the strain of social and political turmoil. 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? This is something of an epic, weighing in at 532 pages, the concept album to the subject matter’s 7” single, and such is the author’s obvious enthusiasm and thoroughness that he could have undoubtedly penned 500 pages more. The woman who ran the nursery school I attended must have gone off for a bit of sun at some stage as I can remember dancing around to that classic in her front room, all those years ago.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. However, this is also a decade which is remembered with nostalgia and fondness (even if it may be a little rose-tinted) by those who were there, and this is, to a large degree, down to the music. Pete Selby, publishing director, Nine Eight Books, said: “Will has lovingly crafted a truly exceptional and labyrinthine text on a most misunderstood period in British musical history. However, if you’re not overly bothered about Clive Dunn’s life story or the trials and tribulations of Hot Chocolate and Hector, you can easily dip into the book with the help of the exhaustive index to find your favourites, be they Slade, Steeleye or Showaddywaddy. 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.

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