In each of the six decades since the birth of rock and roll, you can find some magic, and you can shake your head and wonder how anybody could listen to such rubbish.
But for me, the 70’s is the big enigma. Some of the best rock, much of it indelibly stamped into the concrete of our collective consciousness, was made in that decade. And I couldn’t do without it. But it was a confusing decade, one with little or no direction, a time of extremes and excesses.
Hard rock, prog rock, power pop, funk, metal, disco, jazz fusion, punk, folk-rock, singer-songwriter … and the leisure suits. Brother.
The 70’s were not kind to a lot of 60’s icons. The Stones, Clapton, and The Who, for example, all had their moments, but really they drifted through with mixed results. Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd triumphantly pushed through, and then collapsed at the finish line. Deep Purple didn’t make it. The Beatles and Hendrix didn’t even get out of the starting block.
The energy that began as punk and coalesced into New Wave was certainly welcome. It brought some much-needed focus to all that aimless thrashing about. To borrow from Rossini’s invective against Wagner, the 70’s had wonderful moments, and dreadful quarters of an hour.