One of the hallmarks of truly great albums is that they document the moment of their creation but sound as though they could have been recorded at any time; they transcend the era of their conception but record it perfectly. Skyhooks’ “Living in the 70’s” is such an album.
Straight ahead rock and roll with an eyeliner of glam, “Living in the 70’s” sheds a small but unblinking light on what it was like to be an inner-suburban post adolescent in Melbourne circa 1974. The opening lines of the album sum it up pretty well. “I feel a little empty, I feel a little strange. Like I’m in a pay-phone, without any change.”
Dislocated, disassociated, dissatisfied and slightly disillusioned, the songs on “Living in the 70’s” touch on the emergence of youth sub-culture that was just gaining a foothold at the time. The children of the sixties were waking up, and for the first time they had the guts not to listen to their parents or authority. It’s not the cry of an anarchist punk, but more the shout of “I’m getting my ear pierced and I don’t care what you say!” by a rebellious teenager. Mild, oh so mild, but still beyond what their parents were capable of. This album helped forge a youthful national identity.
Produced by Ross Wilson (ex Daddy Cool) and put out on the emerging Mushroom records label, the production is clean and crisp and captures the state of the songs much as they were when Skyhooks performed them live. Wilson reportedly fought for production duties on “Living in the 70’s” so that the content was not deliberately watered down to suit the “mature” taste of the times.
Filled with sex, drugs, and rock and roll, six of the ten tracks were banned by the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters, which dictated airplay on the commercial stations, but rather than hinder sales, the attraction of contraband was too hard for the kids to ignore and they sent the album to No. 1 on the Australian charts for 16 weeks.
In retrospect it seems hard to comprehend what all fuss was about, but in the political context of the times songs like “Smut” and “You just like me ‘cos I’m good in bed” were never going to be passed by the censors. The ambiguity that 1974 could give birth to the material, yet try to immediately abort it, was due more to the hangover of 20 consecutive years of conservative Government than anything else, but the country would quickly get over its headache and go in for another round of binge drinking at the party of which “Living in the 70’s” was the soundtrack. An Aussie classic!
“Living In The 70’s”