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In Perfect Harmony: Singalong Pop in ’70s Britain

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Mind you, Hill was reduced to hiring out that Roller with the 'YOB 1' number plate as a wedding car later on, but his immortality had long been assured by then. These were the songs you heard on Radio 1, on Saturday-night TV, at youth clubs, down the pub and even emanating from your parents' record player.

In Perfect Harmony takes the reader on a journey through the most colour-saturated era in music, examining the core themes and camp spectacle of '70s singalong pop, as well as its reverberations through British culture since.Against a rainy, smog-filled backdrop of three-day weeks, national strikes, IRA bombings and the Winter of Discontent, this unrelenting stream of novelty songs, sentimental ballads, glam-rock stomps and blatant rip-offs offered escape, uplift, romance and the promise of eternal childhood - all released with one goal in mind: a smash hit. While bands such as the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac were ruling the albums chart, the singles chart was swinging along to the tune of million-selling blockbusters by the likes of Brotherhood of Man, the Sweet and the Wombles. The reasonably minded are now picturing Hill, perhaps dressed as a nun from outer space, and nodding.

The decade of polyester and cheese is bookended by the huge hit singles ‘Grandad’ and ‘There's No One Quite Like Grandma’ and while it's hard to find much or anything to appreciate in either of those records, Hodgkinson has, on the whole, made a decent case for "bubblegum as high art. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian, Mojo and Vogue and presented the Sky Arts television series Songbook. In Perfect Harmony is a definitive work; the rosetta stone for anyone interested in the true cross generational people's pop soundtrack of the 1970s.album releases, perhaps hoping to cop a bit of his accessible glamour in an era when it was in short supply. The 1970s was a remarkable decade which saw Britain creaking under the strain of social and political turmoil. Singalong pop in ’70s Britain is a massive subject, especially given the constant juxtaposition of the music and the historical context. There's a fair and decent case to be made for Slade's strikingly coiffured and perma-grinning guitarist Dave Hill as the greatest rock star ever.

Someone had to explore the geopolitical significance of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Middle of the Road. We are also treated to a rollercoaster revisitation of the wider popular culture of the time with references to the comforting presence of Morecambe and Wise, Delia Smith, Tommy Cooper, The Good Old Days and Tiswas as well as the more sinister presence of Jimmy Saville, Gary Glitter, The Black And White Minstrels and Love Thy Neighbour; a reflection of a rich melting pot beset by the thinly veiled tensions which epitomised the times. However, if you’re not overly bothered about Clive Dunn’s life story or the trials and tribulations of Hot Chocolate and Hector, you can easily dip into the book with the help of the exhaustive index to find your favourites, be they Slade, Steeleye or Showaddywaddy.

Add into the mix the underlying fear created by the IRA bombings and it’s easy to imagine ten years of unremitting misery. In Perfect Harmony is a loving paean to the artists of the time set against the volatile historical backdrop; an evocative and insightful book in which author Will Hodgkinson brings to life the hardships but also the fun and frivolity of the time. Someone needed to find out why Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade became the people's anthem in the age of the Three Day Week. Hodgkinson displays a historian’s attention to detail throughout, but In Perfect Harmony is never dry or taxing and is peppered with the wit and wisdom of the protagonists and the author’s own humorous observations.

To the art school-educated Bowie/Roxy Music fans," or those pretentious sorts we mentioned in paragraph one, "Slade might have seemed hopelessly recherché; the kind of people for who a shag carpet in the bathroom and a personalised number plate on the Roller were the height of sophistication" but, as our guide points out.It’s all very well for pretentious rock snobs like me to prattle on about Gram Parsons, Big Star, or even The Clash, but that’s not what people were really listening to in the 1970s.

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