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In Perfect Harmony: Singalong Pop in ’70s Britain

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Online since 2010 it is one of the fastest-growing and most respected music-related publications on the net. Pete Selby, publishing director, Nine Eight Books, said: “Will has lovingly crafted a truly exceptional and labyrinthine text on a most misunderstood period in British musical history.

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.This is something of an epic, weighing in at 532 pages, the concept album to the subject matter’s 7” single, and such is the author’s obvious enthusiasm and thoroughness that he could have undoubtedly penned 500 pages more. If you are fortunate enough to be too youthful to have experienced all this first hand, the book provides an atmospheric and faithful insight into our relatively recent past with all the lessons, learnt or not, held therein. Punk does happen but, much like the swinging sixties, it doesn't happen for the majority so it doesn’t warrant the same space as The New Seekers, Tony Orlando or the "lingering ennui" of The Carpenters. Rampant inflation, perpetual strikes, fuel shortages, pollution, nuclear threats and racial tension – sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Someone had to explore the geopolitical significance of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Middle of the Road. Singalong pop in ’70s Britain is a massive subject, especially given the constant juxtaposition of the music and the historical context.Biography: Will Hodgkinson is author of the music books Guitar Man, Song Man and The Ballad of Britain. The 1970s was a remarkable decade which saw Britain creaking under the strain of social and political turmoil. From bubblegum to brickie glam, suburban disco to cabaret pop, this is the music that soundtracked everyday lives and for that reason it has a story to tell. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian, Mojo and Vogue and presented the Sky Arts television series Songbook.

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. Will Hodgkinson said: “I had a simple goal with In Perfect Harmony: to take seriously the singalong pop of 70s Britain, which so far has not been taken seriously at all. The reasonably minded are now picturing Hill, perhaps dressed as a nun from outer space, and nodding. 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.

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. These were the songs you heard on Radio 1, during Saturday-night TV, at youth clubs, down the pub and even emanating from your parents' record player. However, this is also a decade which is remembered with nostalgia and fondness (even if it may be a little rose-tinted) by those who were there, and this is, to a large degree, down to the music. During the era of the three-day week, strikes, and - Oi, Oi - energy shortages, British ears turned en masse to cheery and optimistic fare, and who could blame them?

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. 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 differences between the 1970s and the "new age of plastic" of the 80s are illustrated by comparing the main characters of TV high watermark Minder; Terry was the seventies, "forever bringing chirpy young women back to his dingy flat and being the kind of honest, ordinary Joe who you know would pay his union dues and join the picket line" and Arthur "with his flashy camel coat and clumsy attempts at sophistication" was the eighties incarnate.

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