Who says nostalgia ain’t what it used to be? Actually, Seven Ages of Rock, the seven-part series currently showing on ABC TV, isn’t just another wallow in the glory days of the 1960s.
As the title suggests, it attempts to document the development of rock music through various phases, which it does thematically rather than chronologically. From The Birth of Rock to episode seven, Indie Rock, the technique is archival music footage mixed with contemporaneous interviews mixed with current interviews with those involved. (There is therefore some fun to be had seeing what fat bastards some of the idols of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s have become.)
The tone of the series is respectful but not too wanky or self-important and there is some genuinely wonderful footage among it all. I particularly liked the Syd Barrett stuff (in episode 2, Art Rock), while everything I’ve seen of the Heavy Metal episode (next week’s ep) is informative and borderline hilarious (loved hearing Tony Iommi telling his chopped fingers story).
Seven Ages of Rock focuses heavily on the US and Britain, with tonight’s Punk Rock episode no exception. Think The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Ramones, Television, Patti Smith, The Damned and Buzzc-cks.
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Remember, this is hardly a new series, so a lot of the footage can be found on YouTube, pre-cut into nice tasty chunks.
As we all slowly move from the relaxation of summer holidays into a new year of work as usual, this is a pretty pleasant way to kill an hour on Thursday nights. If you cut your musical teeth in the periods covered, chances are you’ll find something here that brings a smile to your face.
The details: Seven Ages of Rock on ABC1, 8.35pm Thursdays til the episodes run out.
Each day, Crikey will suggest one thing to do for the night ahead, once you’ve clocked off from work and free time beckons. It might be an opera to put on the mink stole for, theatre to see, a TV show to download or plonk to drink, but if we’re suggesting it, we’d like to think it’s a certified boredom killer.
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