Young Hearts Run Free

I have been reading Simon Reynolds’ Rip it up and start again, his history of post-punk and new wave from 1978 through to the mid 1980s. One of his recurring themes in the book is about not falling for the Punk-derived idea that pre-Punk pop of the early and mid 1970s was a cultural wasteland. A theme which works well enough when one can track relations between Bowie and Roxy Music (and 1970s French theory too), and Scritti Politti or the Gang of Four. On the other hand… the ‘wasteland’ hypothesis is given some credence by the current run on BBC4 of weekly episodes of Top of the Pops from 1976. I have found this utterly captivating, because it brings back memories of a sort (those of an eight year old watching older sisters cavort in front of the telly in high-wasted denim trouser suits), but also because it is so utterly banal for the most part (with the exception of the weekly helping of Disco). There are a couple of blogs commenting on each show – Yes It’s Number One includes links to video of various songs beyond this 76 ‘canon’; and trip-tv reviews each song, each week. The last episode I saw still had the Wurzels at Number One, having finally displaced The Brotherhood of Man, bringing back further memories, of Country Dancing for school (a competitive sport in Gloucestershire), and of being pilloried as a ten year old when we moved to Sussex for speaking like a Wurzel; but also bringing things bang up to date – they are still playing live ’round theze partz, it turns out, as far afield as Brean and as close as The Bell round the corner from us here in Swindon.

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