Sounds of the Seventies
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Sounds of the Seventies was a BBC radio programme broadcast on weekdays, initially 18:00-19:00, subsequently 22:00-00:00, on Radio One during the early 1970s. Among the DJs were Mike Harding, Alan Black, Pete Drummond, Anne Nightingale, John Peel (who alone had two shows per week), and Bob Harris. For contractual reasons one of Peel's two weekly shows was known as Top Gear, but the format and content of the show on every weekday were in essence identical for most of the early 1970s.
Unlike most other Radio One programmes, Sounds of the Seventies concentrated on albums rather than singles, and rock rather than pop. Sessions recorded exclusively by the BBC and featuring major musicians of the day were a regular feature; the Musicians' Union insisted that "needle time"--time given to playing recorded music—should be limited.
In 1974 the Thursday show was replaced by a show without DJs known as the "Thursday Night Sequence". Album tracks were played without interruption or introduction, and Pete Drummond gave the artist name, album name and track name after the piece.
In early 1975 Sounds of the Seventies was dropped. In September of that year the loss of a nightly slot for progressive rock music was restored by the introduction of the nightly John Peel show, which initially broadcast from 23:00 to 00:00. Peel carried on and expanded the practice of hosting exclusive sessions by major musicians. The Peel show format lasted until Peel's death in 2004.
The theme tune for the programme was usually a George Martin piece known as "Theme One", played in baroque style on a church organ. It was the version by Van der Graaf Generator. Martin had written the piece some years earlier as a theme tune for Radio 1. Variations included Mike Harding's use of the central guitar solo from "Heartbreaker" by Led Zeppelin, and Alan Black's regular closing theme, which was the piano and voice coda from "Pilgrim's Progress" by Procol Harum.
Steve Harley: Sounds of the 70s
In 2000 another programme with the name Sounds of the 70s, but unrelated to the original, began broadcasting on BBC Radio 2. Hosted by Steve Harley the 30 minute programme featured rock and pop tracks from the 1970s. In 2008 following several series the show was dropped from the Radio 2 schedule for a year. The last programme was aired on 27 March 2008.
Johnnie Walker's Sounds of the 70s
There was also a BBC2 TV series called Sounds of the 70s which compiled 1970s performances from the BBC's music archives, taken from programmes such as Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test. This was first shown in 1993, and was rerun on BBC Four in the 2000s.
- "Sounds of the 70s". BBC Online.
- A steam radio site featuring brief clips from the show.