Five Things Friday – Cool Music from 40 Years Ago


While I like the Five Things Friday theme, I also like to post on random stuff … and I think it is becoming clear just how much I love music. The music I love is … um, different would be a word. I have always had a adventurous ear, so not only are my kinds unable to shock me with their music, they owe the discovery of their favored genres to things they heard on my iPod at some point.

I would place the ‘dawn of my musical adulthood’ at seeing The Who ‘rockumentary’ “The Kids are Alright” back in 1979. It got me serious about my playing, had me switch to bass, and sent me on a journey of discovery that tore through The Who and into more exploratory rock such as Jeff Beck, then to fusion like Return to Forever, through Miles Davis and Pat Metheny, and eventually to some really out-there stuff such as Derek Bailey.

It is always interesting looking back in time at a slice of music. For no particular reason I am choosing to step back 40 years to 1973 … OK, so there are three reasons. First it is a good, round number. Second, there has been loads of analysis done on comparing music of the last four decades, and finally I just happened to be listening to The Who because they’re doing yet another re-release for Tommy, and I came to Quadrophenia (1973).

So here are five six (because I can) live music clips from YouTube featuring artists I like either playing in 1973 or playing music released in 1973 while on tour in 1974.

Miles Davis Live 1973 – even though I bought the music from this era nearly a decade after release, I was ahead of the game. It was not until the last decade that the mainstream of jazz thinking has recognized that Miles had NOT ‘sold out’ (can anyone really listen to this and think ‘too commercial’?), and that his 70s stuff was deep and complex.

The Who – Quadrophenia Tour – this 1974 live performance is in support of Quadrophenia, showing the band at a ‘mature’ place, but still ferocious in their sonic onslaught.

Mahavishnu Orchestra – this tour was 1972/73, and highlighted one of the great fusion ensembles, with the masterful John McLaughlin at the lead. I was fortunate to see his later Mahavishnu twice in the mid-80s, and him playing in other formats a couple of times since.

Frank Zappa – I remember an article in Musician magazine in the mid-80s that asked ‘Frank Zappa: Genius or Asshole’ … and answered ‘a little of both’. From the start of this concert you hear the incredibly rich and complex compositions, sublime musicianship, and the crass and snarky lyrics.

Sly – Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters – HeadHunters is regarded as one of the best jazz albums ever recorded, because it is smart, funky, and just a joy.

Joni Mitchell – am I cheating with January 1974? Do I care? Court & Spark is a turning point for Joni and for the very idea of the singer-songwriter. She moved from pop and folk with deep lyrics, and now challenged listeners with complex harmonic structures and song forms. Yet still had great songs like ‘Help Me’.

So those are just a few of the amazing musical things that were swirling around 40 years ago. What sorts of music do you enjoy? And what do you think about this stuff?


One thought on “Five Things Friday – Cool Music from 40 Years Ago

  1. My music taste is very eclectic, 70’s, 80’s (teen years fo me) 90’s and some of today’s Top 40 for running. I have Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage in my mini-van and it makes for some interesting looks when driving around town!

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