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In Perfect Harmony: Singalong Pop in ’70s Britain

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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. 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.

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. Biography: Will Hodgkinson is author of the music books Guitar Man, Song Man and The Ballad of Britain. 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. Online since 2010 it is one of the fastest-growing and most respected music-related publications on the net.Singalong pop in ’70s Britain is a massive subject, especially given the constant juxtaposition of the music and the historical context.

The 1970s was a remarkable decade which saw Britain creaking under the strain of social and political turmoil. 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. In Perfect Harmony takes the reader on a journey through the most colour-saturated decade in music, examining the core themes and camp spectacle of '70s singalong pop, as well as its reverberations through British culture.Add into the mix the underlying fear created by the IRA bombings and it’s easy to imagine ten years of unremitting misery. 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. While Hodkinson makes sterling efforts to compartmentalise the information into chapters defined by genres and age groups (The Great Taste Of Bubblegum, Kids, The Disco Of Discontent etc), there are inevitably overlaps and the author often goes where the story takes him, resulting in an organic and fluid read.

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. Will Hodgkinson is author of the music books Guitar Man, Song Man, The Ballad of Britain and the childhood memoir The House is Full of Yogis.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. Hodgkinson, top music critic for The Times and regular Mojo contributor, celebrates the records that people actually exchanged money for at a time when money was as hard to get as it's about to be, arguing quite reasonably that “if a song chimed with the mood of the nation, doesn’t it say something about the time and place it came from”. While bands such as Pink Floyd, Queen and Fleetwood Mac were ruling the albums chart; the singles chart was swinging to the tune of million-selling blockbusters by the likes of Brotherhood of Man, the Sweet and the Wombles.

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. 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. 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. 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.Writing about Sweet producer, Phil Wainman, he quips “…he favoured rhythmic thumps so brutal they sounded like a cave-dwelling Neanderthal mum banging on a couple of rocks to let her kids know it was time to come home for some roast woolly mammoth. Rampant inflation, perpetual strikes, fuel shortages, pollution, nuclear threats and racial tension – sounds familiar doesn’t it? Against a rainy, smog-filled backdrop of three-day weeks, national strikes, IRA bombings and the Winter of Discontent, this unending 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. In Perfect Harmony takes the reader on a journey through the most colour-saturated decade in music, examining the core themes and camp spectacle of '70s singalong pop, as well as its reverberations through British culture since.

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