A Look Back At The 1970s With Great Funky Songs Performed Live
The 1970s music scene. It wasn’t just the hairstyles, costumes or clothes. It wasn’t just the sheer magnitude of the musicianship. It wasn’t just that the songs were actually saying something. It wasn’t that these bands had multi-talented singer-songwriters.
It was a combination of these things and something else. There was something intangible about the 1970s: that great music like this was written, performed live and recorded for posterity. It makes me feel really sorry for the 2016 generation: kids who have not discovered this music and think that Pitbull, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber or Kanye West are the greatest.
As with all good music, appreciating it meant you were colorblind. You couldn’t care less if the band was white, black yellow or polka dotted. All that mattered was that it was great music.
Here are 5 great funky songs from the 70s performed live.
Let’s start with one of the most underappreciated musicians of all-time, Billy Preston (1946-2006). Preston, known by many music fans for playing with the Beatles on the Get Back sessions, had his own successful solo career that never reached the heights it should have. In this ebullient performance, Billy Preston delvers the goods and belts out Will It Go Round In Circles on The Midnight Special in 1973. Will afros ever come back? Preston and his drummer make them look cool.
There is not much more that can be said about Stevie Wonder that hasn’t already been said. He’s one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all-time. Most fans of Led Zeppelin know that Stevie’s 1972 song Superstition heavily influenced Zeppelin’s 1975 hit Trampled Under Foot. The Doobie Brothers 1973 Long Train Running also bears a striking similarity as all three songs have a similar main hook.
On the LP recording, Stevie Wonder played clavinet, drums, and Moog bass! Here live in 1973 on the show, Sesame Street (yes, the children’s PBS show Sesame Street!) is Stevie Wonder with his phenomenal live band performing Superstition. The whole band is fantastic and the mix is great, but take note of drummer Ollie Brown who keeps perfect time while making it all look too easy.
Steely Dan has been known for demanding perfection on recordings and performing live. From a 1973 Midnight Special program Steely Dan performs Do It Again – perfectly. The thing to watch here is guitarist Denny Dias who doesn’t move around much but whose solo is spot on perfect.
The name Doobie Brothers evokes images of a band that was always getting high or maybe subliminally encouraging you to get high. And it was partially true. But their unusual name was not even their idea. As singer guitarist Tom Johnston tells it,”There was a guy who lived in the house with us who came up with the name. At that point we were still playing locally (in Northern California). The guy said, ‘Why don’t you call yourself the Doobie Brothers because you’re always smoking.’ Everybody looked at each other and said, ‘Well that’s really a stupid name.'”
The Doobies perform China Grove live in 1974 on the German TV Show Musikladen.
Chicago also known as The Chicago Transit Authority have featured a wide range of playing styles and songs, but you can almost always hear the funky jazz and R&B influence in many of their songs. The band that seemed to have a dozen members in their band, perform Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is live at Tanglewood in 1970