The deaths of the Doors' Jim Morrison, of Janis Joplin, of Jimi Hendrix and
countless others, sort of cooled down the booming phenomenon.
After the excesses of the mid Sixties, a more peaceful way to rock nirvana
had already been proposed by Bob Dylan and others when they rediscovered
country music. And "country-rock" became one of the fads of the Seventies,
yielding successful bands such as the
Reggae became a mainstream genre thanks to Bob Marley. Funk became even more
absurd and experimental with George Clinton's bands.
Hard rock begat heavy metal, that soon became a genre of its own
(Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Rush, Journey, Van Halen).
The Seventies were mostly a quiet age, devoid of the nevrastenic battage of
At the turn of the decade, the main musical phenomenon was the emergence of a new generation of singer songwriters that were the direct consequence of the previous generation's intellectual ambitions. Leonard Cohen, Tim Buckley, Nico, Lou Reed, Todd Rundgren, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, and the most famous of all, Bruce Springsteen, established a musical persona that unites the classical composer and the folksinger.
In Britain, the early Seventies saw the proliferation of hard rock and progressive-rock and their branching into several sub-genres. British musicians gave rock and roll an "intellectual" quality that made it the cultural peer of European cinema and literature. British rock was dragged down by the same stagnation that afflicted American rock. The momentum for innovation was rapidly lost and the new genres created by British musicians either languished or mutated into commercial phenomena. Musical decadence led to decadence-rock, personified by dandies David Bowie and Marc Bolan. Eccentric remnants of progressive-rock such as Robert Fripp and Peter Gabriel started avantgarde careers that were to lead to an expanded notion of rock music. New musicians such as Kate Bush and Mike Oldfield helped liberate rock music from the classification in genres and opened the road to more abstract music. But the single most influential musician was Brian Eno, who first led Roxy Music to innovate progressive-rock and then invented ambient music.
Largely neglected at the time, German rock was probably twenty years ahead of British rock. Kraftwerk, Amon Duul, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Faust, Neu Can made some of the most important albums of the era, and of the entire history of rock music. They laid the foundations for popular electronic music, for modern instrumental rock, even for new age music and for disco-music.
The mid-Seventies were largely a decade of consolidation, rather than innovation, but two phenomena erupted that would have a strong impact: disco-music and punk-rock. Disco-music was the first genre to use electronic instruments for commercial, mass-scale music. The beat of dance music would never be the same again. Orchestral arrangements became as ordinary as a guitar solo. Punk-rock had an even greater impact, because it came with the emancipation of the record industry from the "majors". Thousands of independent record labels promoted underground artists and soon the music scene was dramatically split between mainstream rock (descendant of Presley and Beatles) and alternative rock (descendant of Zappa and Grateful Dead). Punk-rock per se was fast, loud rock and roll music, but it quickly became a moniker for all angry music of the time.
From the ashes of decadent acts such as the New York Dolls, the Ramones made punk-rock more than a sound, they made it a religion.
New York punks were as intellectual as the folksingers of twenty years before. Patti Smith, Television, Suicide and Feelies were the main acts of the "new wave". The new wave was truly a new wave of creativity, that harked back to the mid Sixties, when bands were competing to innovate.
The Sex Pistols led the prolific British school of punk-rock, a more socially and politically conscious kind of rebellious music. Punks were not necessarily angry, anarchic and suicidal: the Clash and the Fall were punks with a brain.
The Pere Ubu, and Devo in Ohio, and the Residents and Chrome in San Francisco led the way for hundreds of bands that Zoogz Rift went beyond the song format and offered music as bizarre and revolutionary as Zappa's and Beefheart's.
Tom Petty, in California, was one of the few musicians of that generation to remain untouched by the experimental frenzy.
In Britain a generation that toiled in the pub scene got its chance to emerge at national and international level. Elvis Costello, the Police, the Dire Straits were the most prominent musicians to come out of that milieu.
Rock and roll was born again. Just like in the mid Sixties, each year yielded scores of brilliant musicians that were rewriting the canon of rock music. In Britain first came industrial music, invented by Throbbing Gristle as a hybrid of avantgarde and rock music, and then dark-punk, whose main proponents were Joy Division, Siouxsie Sioux, Public Image Ltd, the Cure, the Killing Joke, the Sisters Of Mercy.
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USA: The New Wave
USA: The Blank Generation
USA: American Graffiti
UK: British Graffiti
USA: Dance music for punks
UK: Dark Punk
UK: Industrial Music
Kosmische Musik: Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Cluster
French avantgarde: Magma, Vangelis
Roots-rock: Doobie Brothers, Eagles, Little Feat
British eccentrics: Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush
Between genres: Todd Rundgren, Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones, Annette Peacock
Free-rock: Henry Cow
German futurism: Kraftwerk, Neu
German existentialism: Faust, Popol Vuh, Can
Southern rock: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers
Heavy blues-rock: Aerosmith, AC/DC
Heavy metal: Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, Kiss, Van Halen
Blue-collar rock: Bruce Springsteen
Intellectuals: Tom Petty, Patti Smith
Dance-pop: Blondie, Police
British metal: Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard
New wave: Television, Suicide, Feelies
Blank generation: Pere Ubu, Residents, Chrome
Avant-funk: Talking Heads, B52's, James Chance, Pop Group
Punk-rock: New York Dolls, Ramones, Clash
Synth-pop: Ultravox, XTC, Wire, Japan
Industrial music: Throbbing Gristle
Voodoobilly: Cramps, Fleshtones
Dark-punk: Public Image ltd, Cure
French avant-rock: Art Zoyd, Univers Zero