Music and Genres, Part 1

LPs and single covers from the 70s

For as long as I can remember I have been aware of differences between different types of music. When I was younger I heard music my mum listened to on the radio and in my dad’s collection. I was also in the church choir with my dad. There was a noticeable difference in the types of music. On the radio it was mainly pop music, first on the BBC Light Programme, then Radio 2. I started watching Top of the Pops too. My dad’s collection had classical, light jazz, light opera, folk and some early 60s pop from when he was a DJ. When we moved to the Shetlands, peer pressure stopped me listening to pop as it was only girls who listened to pop music. I remember watching the girls dance to tunes such as Paranoid, a little ditty from a new pop group.

We moved back to England and, in a music class, a teaching student played the track Black Sabbath whch I enjoyed and other music such as early the electronic music track Popcorn. I still listened to my dad’s records at home.

Fast forward a few years and I am 13. A friend, thinking that I should get into pop music, lent me a compilation album on one of the cheap imprints, Top of the Pops (nothing to do with the BBC) I think. There were a few tracks I liked but the ones that stuck out were Hocus Pocus and Sylvia from Focus, probably because they were closer to the classical music I enjoyed. Whilst he wasn’t impressed, I did have other friends who were into that sort of music so I started listening to what they liked, getting into prog rock like King Crimson, Atomic Rooster and The Moody Blues and heavy metal like Status Quo, Budgie, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. I also got a bit more into pop such as The Sweet, Gary Glitter, Alvin Stardust on the glam end and Abba and the Bee Gees. Reggae, an offshoot of the ska I had heard on the radio in the 60s, was another genre that interested me. I wasn’t interested in a lot of the current soul music but earlier bands were on my radar. The first album I bought surprised a few, it was Autobahn by Kraftwerk, although the first single I bought was more prog, Both Ends Burning by Roxy Music. I have seen Kraftwerk labelled as prog much later on.

When I started listening to John Peel, horizons opened further, giving me a wider view of prog rock, folk, heavy metal and, later on, things like punk, new wave, dub and newer electronic bands. Around that time I also got into disco in a limited way. I started DJing in 1978 and carried that through to 1980. One of the new genres I started playing was rap. By the end of my 70s the majority of my music tastes were fixed.

Heavy metal was my favourite, with my favourite band being Status Quo. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was big at the time as was punk. Labels seemed important. A mod revival came and went, reigniting my love of ska. Electronic music got bigger led by Kraftwerk, who the trendy kids had just discovered, and smaller bands like Tubeway Army. I got more into Hawkwind, although that was more due to one of their new offshoots, a very unpopular band, amongst older heavy metal fans because they were too punk and with the music press because they were too heavy, Motorhead. The prog bands I liked were Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (my first gig), Barclay James Harvest and the Moody Blues, King Crimson having become a nostalgia trip since their split in 1974. Top of the Pops and daytime Radio 1 kept an interest in current pop and disco going: John Peel for the more esoteric music like punk, electronic and dub, as well as old favourites like Quo and Fairport Convention.

Then we had the 80s.