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Never a Dull Moment: 1971--The Year That…

Never a Dull Moment: 1971--The Year That Rock Exploded (original 2016; edition 2016)

by David Hepworth (Author), Meryl Sussman Levavi (Designer)

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12716138,013 (4.12)4
Title:Never a Dull Moment: 1971--The Year That Rock Exploded
Authors:David Hepworth (Author)
Other authors:Meryl Sussman Levavi (Designer)
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (2016), 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:history, rock 'n' roll, 1970s, 1971, rock

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Never a Dull Moment: 1971 - The Year That Rock Exploded by David Hepworth (2016)



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
(For an Early Reviewer copy)
David Hepworth makes a bold claim, right on the front cover. Even before starting, I had my doubts about music converging in one year to breakout and release a torrent of great music and genres that would continue for decades. In reality, the music scene is small, and artists tend to listen to great music, which helps to propagate award winning, multi-platinum material. What Hepworth shows us, in amazing detail, linking people and events by strands, is a domino effect in history (like James Burke's "Connections"). Happening in a studio on the other side of the world, amid cables, amps, guitars, sheet music and people, ripples to the other side, then echoes on for months. Our ears were blessed every day with the music that came out in the early "70s, we rejoiced in it with free radio, until the decades lapsed. Hepworth reminds us to dig out the old vinyl or tapes, and listen again. ( )
  jimcripps | Jan 19, 2018 |
I knew this wouldn't be a keeper, but I could get hold of a library copy? 'Never a dull moment' is perhaps a stretch, for both the year and the book - unless like the author you 'were born in 1950. For a music fan that's the winning ticket in the lottery of life'. I would like to have been born a good thirty years earlier, but only to go see Queen, who had only just recruited John Deacon to play bass in this year, so - meh.

The 'month by month journey through the past' covers bands and artists from Bruce Springsteen and Slade, Carole King and the Carpenters, Nick Drake (no idea, but he died young, not even making the 27 Club) and Led Zep, the Stones, Jim Morrison, Marc Bolan and Cat Stevens, George Harrison, Roxy Music, the Beach Boys and - yes, of course - David Bowie. Again and again and again. A good mix of US and UK artists, though, when I was expecting a purely British experience. The author also wanders off on tangents to recall Tower Records, Mick Jagger's wedding, the generation clash between 'serious people who fought in the war and pranksters with long hair who just wanted to enjoy things', Glastonbury (see previous), the Concert for Bangladesh, and the first 'reality TV' show, The American Family.

Subjective in his nostalgia, Hepworth doesn't hide how unimpressed he is by Marvin Gaye or how much he lerrrrvs Rod Stewart, which is fair enough, but saying that Yoko broke up the Beatles is a bit cliched. On top of the playlist for each month, there is also a suggested listening list of the year's top 100 albums, so interesting, amusing in parts, and instructive - but to get the full flavour, you probably had to be there. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm not sure I agree that 1971 is "the year that rock exploded", but the author makes a good argument. The book is well written, with an engaging style that's easy and fun to read. Each chapter covers one month in 1971, ending with a list of songs and/or albums the author feels were pivotal to the future of rock music.

One area where this book excels is in giving us an inside view of the music industry, with the interplay between the major artists and the major labels of the time. We see how musicians had to fight the status quo in order to make the kind of music they wanted. The downside is that Hepworth presents this information as if it's unique to the year, but this same trend continues today, with labels demanding more of the same regardless of what musicians or bands wants to create. Often the albums that explode on the charts are not at all what labels expect, as Hepworth shows with Carole King's Tapestry. While this is a continuing trend, Hepworth definitely makes a case for 1971 being the year the rebellion began.

Hepworth does little to explore the politics and social changes surrounding and influencing the music of 1971. The social climate had as much to do with rock's rise as it had to do with mainstream society's resistance. I would have liked a better sense of setting to help substantiate Hepworth's claim of 1971 as the pivotal year in rock. I think it's worth mentioning that, while the content covers both the US and the UK, this book has a very British feel. The author is British, and I'm not sure he fully grasps the social climate of the US back in the early '70s. This might explain the glaring absence of discussion on the issue.

Along with stories of musicians and the albums they were making, we're given insight into how record labels and radio had to adapt to the explosion of rock music into mainstream society.
As a focused exploration on rock's evolution, this is an interesting read well worth the time.

*I was provided with an advance copy by the publisher, via LibraryThing.* ( )
  Darcia | Oct 13, 2016 |
David Hepworth’s theses is that 1971 was the most important year in the history of rock/pop music. It was the year of innovations in how albums were made. It was a year of great albums made that still endure today, like ‘Tapestry’, ‘Led Zeppelin IV’, ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, ‘Sticky Fingers’, ‘Blue’, ‘Pearl’, ‘Madman Across the Water’, ‘Harvest’, and, of course, ‘American Pie’. It was, actually, the year that albums became more important than 45 rpm singles. It was the year the Beatles were no more. The technology of making music and recording it changed. Arena rock started, as opposed to playing in clubs and halls.

Each chapter is one month in the year 1971. He doesn’t just tell us what was released by who; he goes deeper into the rock scene, covering things like Mick Jagger’s wedding, various rock stars battles with drugs and alcohol, and what producers and managers were doing. Some of the people he covers really never went anywhere. Being British, it’s seen through a British lens, but there is plenty about the American scene.

Was 1971 the most important year in rock history? I don’t know. I was surprised to find that ‘Blue’ and ‘Tapestry’ came out in ’71; they were such a seminal part of my teens (I could sing every word of both those albums) that I would have sworn they came out earlier. Likewise, I would have sworn Elton John, Rod Stewart, and Van Morrison became really big before that point. But he’s got the dates correct; that music was just so important to me that it colors my memories of the era.

It’s an interesting book- I read it in two evenings- but oddly unstirring. Hepworth is a reporter, not an ad man, and he gives us just the facts, ma’am. But the facts showed me what was below the surface of the music I came of age to. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Aug 4, 2016 |
Excellent. ( )
  adrianburke | Jul 5, 2016 |
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On New Year's Eve 1970, Paul McCartney instructed his lawyers to issue a writ at the High Court in London to wind up the Beatles.
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"David Hepworth, an ardent music fan and well regarded critic, was twenty-one in '71, the same age as many of the legendary artists who arrived on the scene. Taking us on a tour of the major moments, the events and songs of this remarkable year, he shows how musicians came together to form the perfect storm of rock and roll greatness, starting a musical era that would last longer than anyone predicted. Those who joined bands to escape things that lasted found themselves in a new age, its colossal start being part of the genre's staying power"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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