The Sixties ended a year late. When, on New Year’s Eve 1970, Paul McCartney instructed his lawyers to issue the writ at the High Court in London that effectively ended the Beatles, it marked the last day of the pop era.
1971 started the following day and with it the rock era. The new releases of that hectic year—Don McLean’s “American Pie,” Sly Stone’s “Family Affair,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven,” the Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” and many others—are the standards of today.
David Hepworth was twenty-one in 1971, and has been writing and broadcasting about music ever since. In this entertaining and provocative book, he argues that 1971 saw an unrepeatable surge of musical creativity, technological innovation, naked ambition and outrageous good fortune that combined to produce music that still crackles with relevance today. There’s a story behind every note of that music. From the electric blue fur coat David Bowie wore when he first arrived in America in February to Bianca’s neckline when she married Mick Jagger in Saint-Tropez in May, from the death of Jim Morrison in Paris in July to the reemergence of Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden in August, from the soft launch of Carole King’s Tapestry in California in February to the sensational arrival of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” in London in November, Hepworth’s forensic sweep takes in all the people, places and events that helped make 1971 rock’s unrepeatable year.
"[An] expansive overview of the high-water mark of rock's album-oriented maturity . . . [Hepworth is] sharp and zingy . . . his mix of garrulousness and dry wit makes Never a Dull Moment a zip to read."—NPR
“[Never a Dull Moment is] laced with a wisdom gathered over many years as a journalist and industry insider, and with an enthusiasm for the music and an understanding of the economics driving the evolution of popular culture…a highly readable reassessment and a convincing argument for the importance of a year in which the culture of rock began to be aware that it was living out its good old days."—The New Statesman
“Hepworth brings rare perspicacity into the business machinations of the era, whose movers and shakers were, as he points out, often from a previous, less starry-eyed generation . . . Never a Dull Moment lives up to its title.”—The Guardian (UK)
“One of the many strengths of Hepworth’s book is that it combines both perspectives: emphasising how much a part of 21st-century life these albums remain, while also reminding us that, back when they were made, what most people took for granted was pop’s lack of a shelf life . . . Near the beginning of this richly enjoyable book, Hepworth argues that 1971 saw the pop era giving way to rock. Even so, his own approach is much more like the best pop: never taking itself too seriously, essentially out to entertain but also an awful lot smarter than its absence of solemnity might lead you to think.”—The Spectator (UK)
“Cleverly crafted chapters form a glittery, boisterous month-by-month calendar of the ‘annus mirabilis . . . the busiest, most creative, most innovative, most interesting, and longest-resounding year’ of an era that produced music we are still listening to.”—Elle Magazine
“[An] entertaining exploration of the year in music that was 1971 . . . [Hepworth] painstakingly recounts the album releases, Top of the Pops performances, and endless touring dates that defined the year . . . [His] chronicle of the year is loaded with gossipy anecdotes, adroit criticism, and earnest affection for the musicians, record executives, and technicians who defined it. An exuberant tour through a pivotal year in the development of popular music and culture.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Fascinating cultural history . . . Vivid, irreverent prose and analytic insight distinguish the book from the legion of Boomer nostalgia titles. Alongside the requisite gossip, Hepworth's magisterial overview notes the exploitation of nostalgia, the rise of the singer/songwriter, the elevation of rock stars into louche aristocrats, and the transformation of FM radio to an album-oriented rock format. Hepworth also details the openness of record labels to new talent and experimental recording techniques that laid the groundwork for punk, indie, and electronica.”—Publishers Weekly