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Sounds on Sunday: 50 years ago/10

FIFTY YEARS AGO the Charts recorded the best-selling “singles” of each week. Have the hits of 1971 stood the test of half a century of time slipping by since they were released? Sadly, in most cases the top selling singles have not: with only some exceptions the number one hits of 1971 are either not memorable – or memorable for the wrong reasons. Join us as we look back and ask ourselves: “what were we thinking???”

Fifty years ago, Marc Bolan and T Rex were still occupying the top slot on the Charts with Hot Love. Paul McCartney’s “Another Day” ended its run at number two – replaced on 3rd April with “Bridget the Midget (Queen of the Blues)” by Ray Stevens. “Bridget” is very much a song of its time – which is a polite way of saying “offensive”. It has nothing to recommend it, so if you want to hear it look it up yourself, at your own risk.

As we were looking through the Charts for the week beginning 4th April 1971, spattered as they are with a number of equally undesirable releases, our eye was caught by “Power to the People” by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, nestling at number 8. It’s a hangover of the spirit of the 1960s which has made it, just, in the 1970s. Part of the mission of this column is to reflect on whether the music of 50 years ago is still relevant today: this song was used by Bernie Sanders in his campaigns to be President of the USA, so that’s pretty large tick in that box then.

It’s an interesting to see two former Beatles in the charts at the same time – both of them singing in protest at the capitalist system, but in such different ways.

We couldn’t find a decent live version of this song – but here’s a version accompanied by footage of contemporary protest. The need to protest and the manner of doing it has sadly not changed in the last half century – but the uplifting message of Lennon’s song is still equally relevant. Have a listen, and go and protest about something.


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