Paul Fitzpatrick: April 2023
1975 is a year that I always look back on with fondness.
I’d love to be highfalutin and say it’s because it marked the end of the Vietnam War or that it was the year that CAT scans were introduced.
But sadly no, my reasons are a bit more mundane and personal than that.
Fundamentally, 1975 for me was a year of transition, from kidulthood to adulthood.
No more dark sarcasm in the classroom, or for that matter, school dinners in the dining hall – it was time to step-up and earn your own bread and make your own pieces.
Looking back, the transition from school life to the workplace was pretty seamless, one minute you’re sitting at the back of the school bus, observing the worker bees, the next you’re part of their colony, although to be fair, there wasn’t a lot of buzzing going on.
You’ll be familiar with the well coined phrase – “the more things change the more they stay the same” – well I can attest to that.
Hail, rain or shine, you still had to get up in the morning, and just like in double-maths, at certain points of the day, you’d be keeping an eye on the clock.
The big difference of course was that wee bundle of cash you received every Friday.
That weekly windfall was life changing….
For a 16 year old it defined adulthood and represented freedom.
Freedom to go out at the weekend.
Freedom to go on holiday with your mates.
Freedom to buy nice things.
Freedom to go to the ice-cream-van to buy as many Hobos, Blackjacks and Bazooka Joe’s as you liked!
Of course freedom comes at a price and at a certain point you realised the £10 you were handing over to your mum for your keep, probably wasn’t stretching as far as you thought.
Still, those post-school-years spent living at home offered a gentle pathway into the harsh realities of life, although one of the better realities was having a bit of money in your pocket for the first time.
Our parents weren’t daft, they encouraged us to save, to put money away for a rainy day, to start thinking about our futures but there were too many temptations, too many things we wanted, too many things we needed.
Who’s going up the dancing in a pair of hipster flares when all the cool dudes are wearing high-waist baggies?
Who’s sporting last years Harrington jacket when the dapper Dan’s are wearing satin bomber jackets?
I had good mates who would stay indoors every other weekend in order to invest in the right gear but I never saw the point in working hard all week just to mope about the house and watch the Generation Game on a Saturday night.
Compromises had to be made, which is why a handful of us ended up frequenting ‘Paddy’s Market’ on a regular basis.
Wearing my marketing hat, I’d describe Paddy’s Market today as….
‘A sustainable, alfresco, one-stop-shop for pre-loved fashion‘.
In reality it was an outdoor market selling second hand clothes down one of Glasgow’s more colourful back streets.
Selfridges it wasn’t, but if you knew what you were looking for and could endure the musty bouquet for long enough, then most visits would end successfully with a couple of additions to your wardrobe for the price of a pint.
It was a period of adjustment alright, however I’m sure most of us remember that first year in the workplace favourably – a time when there were no (formal) 360 degree reviews and ‘team-building’ was a Friday afternoon in the pub.
Usually with a jukebox playing some cracking music in the background.
In terms of music, 1975 is a year that tends to slip through the cracks when critics reflect on the decade.
Mirroring my own circumstances perhaps it’s because 1975 was a transitional year, with the established order of things undergoing change.
The Classic Rock bands who had led the way in the first half of the decade were coming to the end of their cycle – although 75 would see Zeppelin release their last noteworthy studio album, Physical Graffiti, ditto Pink Floyd with Wish You Were Here.
Prog-rock giants like Yes and Genesis were undergoing key personnel changes and a lot of the Melody Maker big-hitters like ELP, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple were not shifting albums in the same numbers they used to.
Glam rock had come to the end of its yellow brick road with Bowie moving to the US in search of Fame and his close friend Marc Bolan’s best days were sadly behind him.
Disco was bubbling under but the halcyon days of Studio 54 were still a couple of years off and Disco in 75 was confined primarily to the New York underground gay scene.
Punk, in the meantime, was still a twinkle in Malcolm McLaren’s eye with the first incarnation of the Sex Pistols playing Monkees and Small Faces covers whilst learning to play (or in some cases, hold) their instruments.
One new sound that did come to the fore in 75 was Blue Eyed Soul, a term given to white artists producing a credible R&B sound.
Hall & Oates, the Bee Gees and British acts like the the Average White Band, Robert Palmer and Kokomo were at the fore whilst established artists like Bowie with “Young Americans” and Elton, with his Billy Jean King tribute – “Philadelphia Freedom”, were dipping their toes into the blue-eye lagoon.
Smooth waters that would later be navigated as ‘Yacht Rock’.
Another category destined to connect with Yacht Rock, was Soft Rock, a West Coast sound typified by bands like Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Jefferson Starship.
1975 proved pivotal for Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles who both recalibrated to a sound which would propel them to mega success soon after, with Rumours and Hotel California.
1975 was also the year of Funk, with Earth Wind & Fire, The Ohio Players, The Isley Brothers, Hamilton Bohannon, The Fatback Band and George Clinton’s Parliament all finding their groove whilst maintaining the James Brown tradition of playing ‘on the one‘.
So was 1975 a classic year culturally, or just a memorable year for this school leaver?
When critics talk about the great years in music, 1975 rarely warrants a mention with 1971 in particular receiving most of the accolades, but in hindsight I think 75 has a lot going for it.
Pre-punk and post-prog, it was a year of evolution with new sounds and genres coming to the fore and when I was looking through my albums of the year I was struck by how much diversity and quality there was from a year that no one talks about much.
My top 10 albums from 1975
- That’s The Way of The World: Earth, Wind & Fire
- Katy Lied: Steely Dan
- Kokomo: Kokomo
- Physical Graffiti: Led Zeppelin
- The Last Record Album – Little Feat
- The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell
- Pressure Drop – Robert Palmer
- Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac
- Mothership Connection – Parliament
- Live! – Bob Marley & the Wailers
Still Crazy After All These Years – Paul Simon
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Cate Bros: – The Cate Brothers
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Since we’re digging into the culture it turns out 1975 was a pretty special year for Movies too.
Whilst Jaws ensured that everyone from Girvan to Dunoon was counting their toes after heading ‘doon the watter’, the rest of us were perfecting our best French accents in homage to Peter Sellars’ latest escapade as Inspector Clouseau.
Both good films but only one made my top ten.
My top 10 movies from 1975
- The Godfather Part II
- One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest
- Young Frankenstein
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- Dog Day Afternoon
- Race With the Devil
- Hard Times
I know, I know, any excuse to include a playlist, so here you go, a selection of 1975 highlights….