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Home > Music

Pop Quiz, Hotshot: Rolling Stone 1971

Alan Connor: Since the time-travel to the 1986 'Smash Hits' a couple of months back wasn't disorienting enough, we're going further back: to a 1971 'Rolling Stone' magazine. It's May 13th, the second Woodstock album is out for those who thought the initial 3 LPs didn't have enough filler, and the prizes - if you can guess the content of this copy - await.

20 September 2002

Much of the magazine is grimly familiar. The cover story describes the bust of an outfit in Phoenix making bootleg 8-tracks, which is apparently going to bring the industry to its knees. Bootlegging, the executives tell us, "unbelievably accounts for more than one-third of the sales of recordings in the United States". Unbelievable is right. I'd love to tell the 1971 RIAA about Napster. They'd try and stop the internet being developed, claiming it was all for the artists.


But no fool is going to waste his bucks on a knock-off 8-track with so much amazing technology around the corner. Take "Jesus made me higher" by Adam Rogers & the 11th Version (a song favourably comparing the Lord to hashish). If I tell you that this is the first 45 "produced using the Electro-Voice 4-channel set up, and to hear all four channels, you should have one of E-V's decoders" can you answer Q1 -- what acoustical technique is being pioneered here?

Appealing to the stoners makes a lot of sense, as there appear to be a lot of stoners without a lot of sense. In fact, the fun of reading 70s 'Rolling Stone's is marred by the lifestyle (ie, hippy lifestyle) bullspit. Good News For Heads: the Ontario Addiction Research Foundation is looking for young men who are prepared to sit around smoking joints of various strengths (in exchange for assembling some furniture, or something); Bad News: there are new bands who're into, like speed and stuff: "Black Sabbath is hardly what you'd want to hear [in] an evening of chit-chat around the vodka-filled hookah." You get the sense that the writers know the dream is over ("with Jim Morrison still vacationing in France, the immediate future of the Doors is at best uncertain"), but they're not ready to surrender their Good Vibes heated waterbeds quite yet. Q2: what manner of stupid hippy behaviour led to the then-new Byrds LP being titled '[untitled]'?

This nonsense is easily bypassed, though. And the Correspondence page is a treat: when the readers aren't banging on about hash, they're pleasingly lewd. Kathy Doyle of Leonia, NJ reviews a Warhol film thus: "Joe may have had a lack of so-called education, but he's sure got a lot of balls!" Q3: from which LP sleeve do we younger readers know "little Joe" (with the big balls) better?

And the reviews, well, they're a whole heap of fun. Much of this edition is given over to a Motown 5-LP retrospective, and it gets a good, long, considered write-up. Hence Q4: which track is being described here?

Holland and Dozier bowed in Bob Dylan's direction on this one, coming up with a structured, repetitive verse that built to a climax in exactly the manner of Dylan's middle period songs. The song's intentions were the same as Paul Simon's "Bridge over troubled waters" [sic], but a far superior statement of the theme.
But you *expect* good reviews. They've got Lester freaking Bangs, for one thing, even if he is reviewing dullard product like stale old Bread. And Paul Gambaccini and Hunter S. Thompson, ferkrissakes. And - there's no easy way of saying this - and Loyd Grossman. That's what it says. Page 42, reviewing Humble Pie's latest offerings, with the irksome single-"L" and everything. Not a bad rock reviewer. Q5, and I'm asking this because I really want to know the answer, not as a test -- is this the same Loyd Grosman? What went right? What went wrong?


A similar quiz, with a 1986 Smash Hits, is here.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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