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Precious and Few: Pop Music of the Early…
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Precious and Few: Pop Music of the Early '70s

by Don Breithaupt

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How I fell in love with pop music

I have a distinct physical memory of the plastic AM clock radio I got sometime before turning ten years old. I can close my eyes and see it perfectly: glowing amber incandescent illumination falling on the rolodex-style stacks of "digital" numbers, which would flip over nearly silently, just a little louder on the hour. For the next five years or so I kept it plugged in next to my bed, mostly on Denver's KHOW, listening before school (Charlie and Barney) and after.

I was intensely involved with the songs, on a pre-adolescent kid level. I had no understanding of how music was produced, packaged, or broadcast. Even the idea that these were recordings was lost on me at first -- I assumed it was all being performed live. I remember wondering vaguely if there was some revolving door at the station that would somehow rotate the singers in and out every 3 and half minutes.

Later, roughly in the transition from Junior High to High School, in a mini-Pleasantville transisiton, everything went from AM to FM, mono to stereo, top 40 to AOR. Suddenly music that was raceless became color-coded, and all of a sudden I started to get all the sexual double-entendre, or knew that I should pretend to. The old clock radio made way for the Radio Shack 8-track receiver with *two* speakers and the all-important FM band. But that's a different book.

This one covers my kid-pop period in fantastic detail and with a sympathetic eye, nice in light of the permanently ironic mode retro-70s fetishism typically takes. The authors don't deny the silliness of alot of this stuff, but they also don't miss a chance to commend especially great records. They are also excellent on the pre-"format" radio culture of the day, when this incredibly varied stew of sublime pop weirdness could co-exist on the AM dial. ( )
1 vote geebump | Jul 19, 2010 |
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