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Battle of the eras - Music of the 60s, 70s, said to be most impactful

Published:Friday | August 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Stevie Wonder
Ben E King
Aretha Franklin
Gladys Knight
Marvin Gaye
Michael Jackson
Al Green

Musicologists and music aficionados worldwide tend to agree that the 1960s and the 1970s were the two most explosive and impactful periods of popular music.

With all of that, pundits are divided in their rating about which of the two decades was more explosive and impactful. Many seem to tip the scales in favour of the 1970s, citing the disco explosion and eight sensational reggae albums by Reggae King Bob Marley as factors that carried the most weight.

But when we look back at the works of 1960s artistes like Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, Ben E King, Percy Sledge, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, and Nancy Wilson, it becomes a very close call to decide on the superior decade.

In fact, many believe that the 1970s solo efforts, although being remarkably creditable, would find the going tough in trying to match the achievements of the 1960s. A look at some of those 1970s contenders would show Al Green heading the pack. Between 1972 and 1973, he placed five consecutive singles on the US Top 10 R&B charts - Look What You've Done For Me, I'm Still In Love With You, You Ought To Be With Me, Call Me, and Here I Am. Additionally, he had Let's Stay Together and Tired Of Being Alone both in - 1971 - his first number one and first million-selling hits, respectively.

Other standouts that impacted the 1970s popular music scene included Michael Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Neil Diamond, Barry White, Tom Jones, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, and Billy Paul.

Al Green's dominance of soul music in the early 1970s was indeed the continuation of a soul music trend that began in the late 1950s and early 1960 with James Brown, and later, Sam Cooke and Solomon Burke.

Burke, one of the founding fathers of soul music, released several outstanding pieces that included If You Need Me, Just Out Of Reach, Hanging Up My Heart, and Goodbye Baby, all in 1964.

James Brown, dubbed The Godfather of Soul, laid the first stone in the foundation for soul music with Try Me and Please Please Please, in the late 1950s, and Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, I Got You (I Feel Good), and It's A Man's World in the 1960s.

Sam Cooke, emitting an unmatched crystalline vocal delivery, was immortalised through his many hits but perhaps more so through his posthumous 1964 release, A Change Is Gonna Come.

Other outstanding releases during the 1960s that made the decade musically popular included Pain In My Heart and These Arms of Mine by Otis Redding; When A Man Loves A Woman, by Percy Sledge; Stand By Me, by Ben E King; Find Another Girl and Girl In His Mind, by Jerry Butler; I Second That Emotion - Smokey Robinson with the Miracles; My Cherie Amour - Stevie Wonder; Don't Make Me Over - Dionne Warwick; and I Say A Little Prayer - Aretha Franklin.




The 1970s saw Marvin Gaye at the top of his game with the perennial Let's Get It On, What's Going On, and Sexual Healing, while Gladys Knight, along with the Piips, livened up the 1970s with mouth-watering gems like Sorry Doesn't Always Make It Right and Neither One Of Us Wants to Be The First to Say Goodbye.

But when we get right down to it, it may very well be the groups that carried the greatest swing and became the determining factor in deciding which era was more popular.

The 1960s quartet The Drifters were earliest on the scene with There Goes My Baby, Save The Last Dance For Me, Dance With Me, and This Magic Moment at the turn of the decade.

Two years later (1962), The Beatles - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr revolutionised Rock n Roll, giving to it a style that garnered 20 number-one hits - a record that still stands.

The Impressions, with Curtis Mayfield at the helm, and following Jerry Butler's exit, created a slew of hits in the early 1960s that epitomised the best that the pop and soul genres had to offer. Gypsy Woman, I'm The One Who Loves You, Minstrel And Queen, It's All Right, and People Get Ready were massive hits on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Supremes, with Diana Ross up front, added another dimension to 1960s popular music by becoming the first and only girl group in history to have six consecutive number-one records in a one-year period (1964-1965). Those were Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love, Come See About Me, Stop In The Name Of Love, Back In My Arms Again, and I Hear A Symphony. When we add to that list the hits of The Temptations and The Four Tops, one can imagine the joy and excitement that reverberated at dances and parties in the early to mid-1960s.

But for those '1970ers' who experienced The Manhattans (Just One Moment Away, Kiss And Say Goodbye, There's No Me Without You, Shining Star); The Stylistics (Ebony Eyes, Betcha By Golly Wow, Stop Look Listen To Your Heart); The Chi-lites (Homely Girl, Oh Girl, Have You Seen Her); The Spinners (How Could I Let You Get Away, Now That You're Mine Again); and The O'Jays (Darling Darling Baby, I Love Music, Now That We Found Love, Forever Mine), they would perhaps have a different view.

Judge for yourself!