Very astute of the submitter in the Character section of the Goofs to remind us that ELO's "Livin' Thing" was not known until later in 1976 as it was released in November along with parent album "A New World Record". "Hunky Dory" is a creature of the late spring of that year. Nonetheless, the choice of music in this movie, as a remark, is simply outstanding. It finely captures that moment when the singer songwriter sound of the early 70s was giving way to late glam and early new wave sensibilities (a la Ferry, Bowie, Lee, Drake, Lynne). In fact, a book has been written ("Hollywood Film 1963-1976: Years of Revolution and Reaction") that pinpoints 1976 as the pivot year when the cultural reign of the 60s and early 70s ended. As a disclaimer, I don't know what music was being played on the BBC in pre-Thatcher Wales; would she actually have been seen on BBC nightly television in 1976, three years ahead of her ascendancy, as she does in the film? But I do wonder about other culturally significant music of 1976 that might have been overlooked. As a leading example, the advent of Queen's "A Night of the Opera," generally acclaimed the Sgt. Peppers of the 70s, plops squarely in May of 1976 when "You're My Best Friend" was picking up steam as the followup single to enormous "Bohemian Rhapsody," and the Elizabethan "39" was starting to haunt the airwaves. Irish heavy rockers Thin Lizzy sprang from regional jail at that moment and John Miles, whose title cut,"Stranger in the City," was a great, if passing, anthem to weary youth in Britain, peaking around April 1976. Genesis' "Trick of the Tale" was a breakout commercial LP from 1976, loaded with snappy art-rock tracks, bespeaking a sense of melancholy associated with life change in English youth, though this might have been more suited to highbrow Charterhouse and Ellesmere, the latter featured as bedrock in 1978's Richard Burton vehicle, "Absolution". The Rolling Stones released "Black and Blue" in April 1976 carrying a couple of textured, sentimental songs in single "Fool to Cry" and sadly reflective "Memory Motel," both all over the radio then. Too American sounding? In the obverse, I question whether Ontario's Rush had really arrived in Wales at that point to the extent that the schoolboys could play, chord for chord, with no charts, a good bit of "Passage to Bangkok" on the brand new "2112" album. If you need a guitar-heavy AOR entry, why not England's Foghat? "Fool for the City" was sitting right there on album playlists in May of 1976. Finally, 1976, of course, was the year of Peter Frampton, I am imagining the brilliant live versions of "I Wanna Go to the Sun" or "All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)" as fitting period citations of prep yearning for flight. I won't mention anything about "Born to Run," the sensation of that stateside season, released several months prior to May of 76, as Middle Atlantic bravado would not sync with "Hunky Dory's" more woozy, Welsh bard effect. Nor would a recent UK platinum smash by The Three Degrees and its spawning movement, (gasp) disco, whose 1975 afterbirth, populated the times. As a PostScript, I loved the choices of both "Strange Magic" and "One Summer's Dream," both underrated ELO dreamers. I can't help wanting more ELO from the period (understanding there is only room for two in this multi-artist effort) as their current "Face the Music" sported heady standards like "Nightrider" and "Waterfall"; and if we look back just several months earlier, the "El Dorado" album's ultimate orchestral Beatles paean, "Can't Get it Out of My Head". We have only one film here, and "Hunky Dory" made its choices. My curiosity aside, they are fine decisions.
Comedy / Drama / Music
Comedy / Drama / Music
In the heat of the summer of 1976, drama teacher Vivienne fights sweltering heat and general teenage apathy to put on an end-of-term version of Shakespeare's The Tempest.
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April 14, 2019