Poster by Cuban artist José Gómez Fresquet (Frémez), circa 1970. Image:

In this week’s playlist we head to the funky 1970s, a decade of beginnings and endings in music.

Begin time travel here!

The Beatles broke up in 1970 and in 1977 Elvis Presley died. The decade saw the rise and fall of disco, whilst R&B and funk had a continuing solid decade. Reggae music hit the mainstream thanks to Bob Marley and street artists in New York began experimenting with what would become hip hop and rap. Folk rock, heavy metal, the introduction of progressive rock and the influential punk wave also characterized the decade.

During the second half of the 1970s, space travel and sci-fi were important themes in the ambient U.S. culture and therefore in funk, jazz, and jazz funk. These were reflected in Dexter’s titles and music, which can be heard in this funky introductory track.

Dreams is a song written by singer Stevie Nicks, for the group Fleetwood Mac‘s 1977 album, Rumours. The song was the only U.S. number one hit for the group, and remains one of their best known songs. This second track is a cover of this song, sung by Bastille and Gabrielle Aplin whose sweet and soft vocals mesh well together. The clarity of Gabrielle Aplin‘s diction makes listening to her easy and desirable.

Lets Dance is the title song from British singer-songwriter David Bowie‘s 1983 album and went on to become one of his biggest-selling tracks. Bowie described this video (and the video for his subsequent single, China Girl) as “very simple, very direct” statements against racism and oppression. In 1972, Bowie re-emerged during the glam rock era with the flamboyant alter ego Ziggy Stardust (picture shown at end).

Don Van Vliet  was an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet known by the stage name Captain Beefheart.  He also played the harmonica, saxophone and numerous other wind instruments. Listen to this blend of rock, blues and psychedelia with avant-garde and experimental composition.

2 years ago I was lucky enough to be taken to a Santana concert, which was astonishing to watch the then 65 year old perform so passionately and brilliantly. This track displays his Latin American influence combined with Santana’s characteristic sounds on the guitar.

The 6th track of this playlist by Miles Davis was the Miles Davis I had never heard before, with experimental dissonant composition. This is the second track on his 1970 album, Bitches Brew, was his first gold record, although upon release it received mixed reviews due to its unconventional style. Weather Report, an American jazz fusion band of the 70s and early 80s, was similar to Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, but by the mid-70s the band had moved towards more groove orientated music – as epitomized by this hit single track.

Finally, we come to a bright finish to this visit to the 70s with Simon and Garfunkel’s Keep The Customer Satisfied, which features on their album Bridge Over Troubled Water. If you like what you hear try listening to the rest of this great album!


This playlist and accompanying piece was created by Claire Hume, Music Blogger at Rhetoric Magazine. Come back for more every Wednesday!