Friday, August 03, 2007

8-Track, the Sounds of The 70's

The 70's. Egad! Leisure suits (I had a pale blue one), big white belts (ditto), bell bottoms (yep, those too) disco (anyone remember the Sting Disco in Urbana, IL?), Energy Crisis, Jimmy Carter, Watergate, Vietnam, last of the big cars, it was all there. I am a child of the 70's. Fate decreed it. Graduated in 1975... right in the middle.

So of course all of us baby boomers of the 50's are waxing nostalgic for our high school and college days. And of course, theatre directors and such are happy to oblige.

Thus one of the biggest crowds in memory packed the American Heartland Theatre for "8-Track, the Sounds of the 70's".

Music of the 70's usually means disco. But the early 70's hits were clearly extensions of the "psychedelic 60's" themes of peace and brotherhood, everyone get along, anti war, why are people dying? The disco era highlighted a new wave of Black vocalists that persists to this day. The last of the great ballads, with a lineage back to Schubert and jazz singers made their last stand. The diversity of the music was revelatory. We heard chord progressions, soft rhythms and even soaring melodies that have virtually disappeared from current popular music.

8-Track is basically 90 minutes of nostalgic fun, with a fount of popular and some more obscure chart toppers. Aretha Franklin, the Carpenters, Ray Stevens' "Everything is Beautiful, Tony Orlando and Dawn (this would be a hit in Branson), Barry Manilow, Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight", "Voulez-vous Couche Avec Moi ce Soir?" (about as dirty as it got then). Even the trucker's anthem "Convoy" got a spin. 10-4 good buddy. The melodies were pouring fast and furious....almost too many to catch. I counted about 45-55 different songs, some complete, some just teasing snippets.

More "serious" fare, included Three Dog Night's "Mama Told Me Not to Come," the Doobie Brothers' "Takin' It to the Streets" Helen Reddy's feminist anthem "I Am Woman," and Marvin Gaye's "Tell Me What's Going On".

The audience was sprinkled with people wearing 70's outfits, including a few wild multi colored afros. Some of the anthems, such as Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life" brought out the waving lit cell phone, no one smokes anymore you know!

The 4 singers 2 men and 2 women, 1 black and white each, were uniformly good. Teddey Brown's touching and somewhat funny rendition of Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again Naturally" stole the show. Bradley Beahen, sort of a Brady Bunch guy, was a little stiff acting but in great voice. Both women could belt the ballads as good as Aretha and Debbie could.

Ok, it was not profound. Sort of superficial, like the 70's. Damn good fun.


Anonymous said...

Sounds fun! I love 70's music - and I get alot of grief for it! The most "recent" music I have is from 1978!

Anonymous said...

There are some Branson shows to check out too. One of my favorites is the Shoji.