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One Piece At A TIme

 By Kartheik Iyer 

I was listening to a rather diverse collection of songs today, slightly different from the music I've been listening to of late. I swung up and caught the handhold as the train pulled into yet another station and a stream of humanity rushed past. The song was Paper Puli, by Bangalore rock band Thermal and a Quarter. The song starts off with, "Frank Zappa once said, 'Rock journalism is all about people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read.' " The train pushed off again, with the stream of humanity, now a pool of humanity crowded into the half the space of a multiplex washroom, with one gentleman who was trying to facilitate the fostering acquaintance between my face and his elbow. I kindly declined, but getting back to topic, if not anything else, I could read. Couldn't I?
Paper puli wound up its act and Deep Purple started off with Highway Star, remarkable how much the starting riff resembles that of Sinbad the Sailor from Rock On, but ah, well, it must've been 'independently composed'. I wanted to sing, but knowing my voice, I'd probably have joined the railway casualties list had I done so. The song was superb, the vocals scratchy, rough, and typical of that period. What period? The 70's of course. Wasn't that when it all happened? Well, yes and no. The seventies were an amazing time to be in, if you were a music lover. There was something for everyone. Rock, pop, metal, grunge, reggae, blues, you name it. Not that these genres didn't exist before that. Hendrix was wrapping up, he passed away in 1970, John Petrucci was three years old, and there was this new band that called itself Led Zeppelin, formed in 1968, in the same year as this other band called Black Sabbath. And the people of our world seemed to have rediscovered new and extremely inventive ways of using a variety of trance-inducing substances for both recreational and inspirational purposes, and would forge ahead and produce realms and genres of music that would then proceed to blow the minds (whatever fragments remained). It was to be an amazing high, er, no, amazing journey.

After Deep Purple came Iron Maiden's Blood Brothers. And good song though it was, I was rather distracted by two strikingly beautiful ladies who were engaged in the rather un-maidenly act of striking down an unfortunate soul who happeneth to glance rather lecherously in their direction, going by their version. The poor victim, er, pervert was mutinously complaining that it had simply been something in his eye. A crowd was in its nascent stages around the spectacle, for our people are never ones to turn down wholesome free entertainment, and were gatherin' 'round with the satisfied expressions of one who's platform ticket has yielded its money's worth. Unfortunately, the train had a schedule of its own to keep up with, and with a clang of the gears that amounted to a mechanical sigh, it set off once more, bearing me with it.

What surprised me, as my playlist progressed, playing Edwin Starr's War, Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge over troubled water, and Rolling Stones' You can't always get what you want, was the sheer amount of variety that emerged from that period. I thought back of how people were stereotyped now according to what kind of music they listened to, Rock artists are dumb. Satanic Metal Punks. Gay pop loving freaks. And those days, when everyone was a brother, food was cheap and music was peace, how would they have been like? (Again, I have no idea whether the seventies were really like that, and they most probably not, but what the heck, why can't people dream?) The train went on, with its assorted clangs and rattles providing background accompaniment to the subtle nuances of an ever effective Pink Floyd' Comfortably numb, which was followed by the Eagles' Tequila Sunrise.

I had almost reached, and AC/DC (visit Edocsil's wall, no, not facebook) was playing Back in Black. I waited for the song to finish, and wound up my earphones. There was so much I couldn't cover, the Who, Queen, Alice Cooper, KISS, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, The Ramones, Presley (deserves a special mention for cult-ishness, hats and wierd hairdos off to him.), Lennon, Marley, and god-knows-how-many-more-bands-i'm-forgetting, so much more I couldn't write about, about the experimentalism, about the feckless, reckless nature of the bands, and their individual personae, the stories, world reception, styles and the emergence of the sub-genres that classify music today, (and how dare I forget them, the groupies), and of course, Hindi music from that era, and how it influenced / was influenced by its western counterparts. But I leave all that for a later date, and end with an excellent dictum from the age of psychedelia. Peace, bro'.

ps. One interesting piece of information that puzzled me, though. Deep Purple once occupied a position in the Guinness Book of World Records as "the loudest pop group". Er, pop. How? 

Theories and answers are welcome at, on our facebook page, or at

Also, this site, whose address I happened to find on wikipedia, happens to have a wealth of information on the 1968-1976 period, do visit it if you feel like.

Disclaimer. All the songs mentioned are the sole property of their respective artists, this article is not part of any promotional propaganda or publicity material, and may be shamelessly copied, lifted and reproduced in any form, with the cognizance of the author. He'd feel good about it.


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