19 March 2011

The Jams: Forget Not the 1970s

In keeping with the theme of my last post, in which I begged respect for the 1970s in general, lets talk music for a moment.
Issac Hayes is kind of the quintessential Bad Mother...(shut your mouth!). He practically invented it. Actually, I suppose James Brown invented the concept, but Isaac certainly refined it, with Curtis Mayfield giving it the intellectual tweak. In any case, Isaac Hayes made a lot of great albums in the 70s. They were blatantly of their time, full of lush arrangements, over the top production, and dripping with sex appeal. Any of these albums are worth knowing, and are solidly dated in their era, but strong enough to stand the old test of time. Today, I played side two of "...To Be Continued" for the children. "Isaac's Rap" blends right into his version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", making for a dead solid 15 minutes of what I told my boy was a "dirty jam", and I meant it as an ultimate compliment. Wrap it up with "Runnin' out of fools", and you've got half an hour of filthy. Very distinctly 1970s, and very unstoppable. A good rap producer could make about 25 jams out of this record and maybe a Dionne Warwick album easily, if he's worth his salt. 
On the other end of the spectrum, we followed up with this:
I'll go ahead and pronounce Led Zeppelin's "Physical Graffiti" as the definitve big rock record of it's time. Huge, aggressive, no apologies offered, it comes at you like a steam roller. Jams like "The Wanton Song" are the reason I begged for a drum set when I was 11, and went on to play the drums for twenty years. The cover, with the cut out windows and interchangeable inserts, is argument enough in my book for the supremacy of vinyl as a thing to own. The way this stuff sounds and feels by way of needle and wood is the closing argument.

Besides all this, the 70s were the last days of our revered concept of "old fashioned"ness. Dad still wore suit to work. Most of the stuff in your house was made in USA...and most of it is still around. And this was the popular music on the radio.It may have been a generally ugly decade, but it wasn't all bad.

Think it over before you write off ten years of history wholesale, or at least listen to Isaac Hayes and Led Zeppelin on vinyl sometime. Then we'll talk.



you know you are much much more tiny tim than issac hayes

tip toe through the tulips
with yer plimsolls and yer plastic flick knife
tip toe through the tulips with me

Barima said...

I wholeheartedly approve of this post and the recommendations within. In fact, I'm watching Superfly right now and gently singing 'Freddy's Dead'

All best,


Giuseppe said...


Tiny Tin was a bad ass.

Plastic flick knife?

Jho78 said...

This post touches on 3 of my favorite things: Led Zeppelin, Blaxplotation movies, and sharing awesome things with my kids. My soon to be three-year-old is already a huge early Seventies Bowie fan (though it's a little creepy when he sings along to "The Supermen").

Young Fogey said...

Isaac Hayes was really cool, but this album cover is really, really creepy. Was it designed by HR Giger?

Anonymous said...

Love this topic.

FWIW, I have 70s vinyl of Isaac Hayes and Dionne Warwick in concert (two discs). The highlight is a duet with IH singing "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" while DW sings "I Say A Little Prayer" BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!!!!

It is the quintessential YMMV recording. I think it is perfectly awful, which is why I have preserved it most carefully (along with every other record I have ever come across--they are, somehow, righteous, no matter how bad). My significant other at the time of purchase (no relation to my wife) thought it profound, and she had, to her credit, very good taste in music.

Some Assembly Required said...

I was thinking about this subject recently. Being old enough to have lived through the 70s, I'm glad I was able to experience it firsthand, even if I was just a kid/teenager. There was a sense of freedom in artistic expression that I think is gone now.

Musically, top 40 FM radio certainly had its share of dreck, but the pop music of the era was much more varied than the bland, soulless product that passes for pop today.

Mxolisi Ngonelo said...

Just this morning I was reading a copy of Vibe magazine from 2004. In it there was an article about Al Green and his then lover Mary Woodson. The story was about the infamous pots of grits that was thrown on Green by Woodson. While reading the article I couldn't shake the thought that I would've loved to have grown up in the 70s, just to experience the whole thing. You just have to repsect the 70s. Ended my day by bumping ol' Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

Insightful post indeed.

schwammy said...

Having grown up in the 70s, I find myself wistful for them quite often. In fact, I often watch movies like "Jaws" or "Close Encounters" just so I can revel in the 70s-ness of the cars, the hairstyles, the clothes, even the graininess of the film stock.

Unknown said...

Haye's Hot Buttered Soul is one of my favourite funk/soul albums. The twenty-minute rendition of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on Side 2 is the kind of thing that happened occasionally back in the '60s and '70s, and is all but inconceivable today. A true album jam. Great stuff.

Fatfriend said...

Or 'Blood on the Tracks', or 'Ziggy Stardust...', or almost anything by Little Feat. The clothes were crap though, and I have plenty of photos to prove it, unfortunately.

Giuseppe said...

Mostly crap. My Brooks Brothers hunter green doeskin blazer likely dates from the 1970s, and it's a gem.