Various Artists

Jon Savage's 1969-1971: Rock Dreams on 45

(CD - Ace #CDTOP 21559)

Review by

A sequel of sorts to Jon Savage's series of Ace compilations focusing on a particular year of the '60s, Jon Savage's 1969-1971: Rock Dreams on 45 is a brilliant idea for a compilation: describe the rise of album rock through its diminutive cousin, the 7" single. The concept sounds like a novelty but it's instructive, underscoring how the rise of album rock in the early '70s was still reliant on the existence of the 45 rpm single, which remained the easiest way for a song to reach the masses. Rock Dreams on 45 is filled with 43 singles that straddled the line separating the underground and emerging rock mainstream, and while actual hits are few and far between (the biggest is John Kongos' "He's Gonna Step on You Again," which later received a second wind as the foundation for Happy Mondays' "Step On"), there are a number of big names, including the likes of the Stooges and the Velvet Underground, who are associated with this time, but not seen as singles artists. Again, that's the appeal of Rock Dreams on 45. By listening to the nascent album rock (and its accompanying proto-punk) as a series of singles, it's evident how the period from 1969 to 1971 was overrun with ideas and that the concept of album rock had yet to be formed. There may be plenty of heavy riffing, but this isn't music aimed solely at the gut and below. There's plenty of trippy and soulful material, with bands attempting to find the further point out for rock, blues, and psychedelia. That's the great gift of Jon Savage's 1969-1971: Rock Dreams on 45: listening to it, classic rock -- the most familiar music in pop/rock -- once again seems fresh.

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