1964-1974 was a tumultuous decade. In the first two books of his ‘Music and Politics’ trilogy, Steve Millward traced how the optimism and adventure of 1964 had, by 1970, soured into frustration and uncertainty. Fast Forward: Music and Politics in 1974 brings the story to a climax by showing that while the year was riddled with soul-searching and looking backwards, the future was, in fact, approaching rapidly.
As in the previous volumes, Millward links major political developments such as the energy crisis, Watergate, the troubles in Northern Ireland and the rise of the National Front to trends in rock, jazz, folk and classical music. He also explains the part played by music in the revolutions across Africa and in the struggle for civil rights in the USA. James Brown, Neil Young, David Bowie and Bob Marley are among the major names featured, but there is also discussion of the multitude of artists who made crucial but less celebrated contributions, including Millie Jackson, Steve Reich, Billy Cobham and even the poet laureate John Betjeman. Precursors of punk such as Patti Smith, The Ramones, Dr Feelgood and Kilburn and The High Roads are also examined in detail. Finally, Millward weaves into the plot sporting events like the World Cup and the Rumble in the Jungle and the host of excellent films released during the year.
Fast Forward: Music and Politics in 1974 offers a multidimensional interpretation of a momentous year – analytical yet accessible, weighty yet witty – and is the perfect addition to any music-lover’s bookcase. It merits the accolade given by Record Collector magazine to its predecessor, Different Tracks (Matador, 2014) – ‘an incisive, all-inclusive discourse...a sharply-delineated time-capsule’.