Saturday 23 March 2024

wall of sound (11. 446)

First debuted on this day in 1974 for a concert by the Grateful Dead (previously) at the venue of the California State Livestock Pavilion (the Cow Palace, an indoor arena on the outskirts of San Francisco), the monumental acoustic reinforcement system, consisting of some six hundred speakers and drawing twenty-six thousand watts of power, fulfilling lead designer Owsley “Bear” Stanley’s search for a self-correcting way to amplify the experience to an audience of a hundred-thousand projecting over a significant field of attendance without distortion (the audio crew could monitor what the crowd heard). Although the technical achievement was itself retired by October due to logistics involved in moving and reassembling the array, the advancement in fidelity led to an improved experience for all, made more practical and efficient once the Grateful Dead resumed touring in 1976.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

what a lady, what a night (11. 369)

Reaching the top of the UK singles charts on this day in 1976, the Four Seasons’ song by Bob Gaudio and Judy Parker, showcasing the band’s drummer Gerry Polci and vocalist Frankie Valli, the lyrics were originally set three decades prior in 1933 to 5 December, marking the end of Prohibition in the US. The group however revolted against the juxtaposition of such a good disco, doo-wop groove with an obscure historical reference, and it was decided that it should be shifted forward to capture the spirit of Americana as a jukebox favourite circa the early 1960s.

Wednesday 31 January 2024

my, my, how can i resist you? (11. 310)

Coincidentally sharing some of the same lyrics (Mamma mia, let me go!), on this day in 1976 ABBA unseated Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” from its nine-week run at the top of the UK singles charts with the opening track on their eponymous third studio album. Resistant to the idea of promoting the song for fear of over-exposure (and due to the composition being shopped around before it was offered to the group), it was first trialled in the Australian market but the overwhelming positive reception prompted ABBA to release it as a single in Britain, soon becoming an international hit. The B-side of the UK version had the instrumental track “Intermezzo № 1” with variants including “Hey, Hey Helen” and “Tropical Love Land.”

Saturday 13 January 2024

7x7 (11. 263)

photographie de rue: the images of Eugรจne Atget capture scenes of Paris unchanged since the turn of the last century  

ma che sera: more musical stylings from Raffaella Carrร  with this 1974 TV appearance 

ray fay: the mostly-unreleased 1976 comedic spoof Queen Kong with traditional gender roles reversed  

from-to: reputational-based urban maps that can help you find the analogue East Village of London and other neighbourhoods in different cities 

tv mirror: leafing through the February 1977 includes an interview with Henry Winkler and more on the Dino De Laurentiis remake that condemned the above treatment of the colossus to obscurity 

isdn: a look at the once future-proof telecommunication standard quickly vanishing 

oppidum du mont beauvray: the successive rediscoveries of the ancient capital of the Gallic Aedui tribe, Bibracte


one year ago: St Mungo plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: snow-plough names plus a very special episode of Bewitched

three years ago: more on sea-shanties, the art of Roger Brown plus COVID ex-votos

four years ago: Knut’s Day plus outcry over plant-based labels

five years ago: criticism over NordStream2interpretive GIFs plus more links to enjoy

Saturday 11 November 2023

clip show (11. 111)

The 1976 musical documentary by Susan Wilson that juxtaposed Beatles covers with newsreel combat footage and propaganda vignettes that was roundly rejected by critics and audiences was released on this day in 1976 and pulled from cinemas after less than two weeks of screenings. Shrewdly realising that money was to be made from the soundtrack with new renditions by popular artists, the accompanying film score debuted three weeks earlier and generated far more revenue than the movie, remanded mostly to obscurity outside of a few airings that attracted a cult-like fascination with several charting singles like Rod Stewart’s “Get Back,” Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” the Bee Gees’ “Carry That Weight,” Helen Reddy doing a version of “Fool on the Hill,” Tina Turner on “Come Together” and introducing Peter Gabriel with “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It was rumoured that Monty Python cartoonist Terry Gilliam was approached to contributed animated interstitials but that was apparently untrue. As singular as this enterprise seems, All This and World War II was inspired by a documentary by Philippe Mora from the previous year called Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? made up of newsreel footage and interspersed with clips from contemporary films and songs as a scrapbook of the Depression Era through the Attack on Pearl Harbour, with musical selections from Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Woody Guthrie, Busby Berkley and the Andrews Sisters. More from Open Culture at the link above.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, MacArthur Park, the Feast of St Menas plus Kurt Vonnegut Jr at 100

two years ago: more links to enjoy, 3 quarks daily, superannuated image formats, Bliss symbols, an autumnal walk plus more out of the way wanderings

three years ago: the Trizone anthem, more links worth the revisit plus an observatory receives a new name

four years ago: the Feast of St Martin plus early generative text

five years ago: the Armistice of 1918, more assorted links plus a Bosch-bot

Wednesday 24 May 2023

the judgment of paris (10. 763)

Aptly alluding to the myth of a scorned guest and chaos agent, Eris, the goddess of Discord—who was not invited to the marriage ceremony of Greek hero Peleus and sea nymph Thetis and tossed a golden apple into the wedding party to be awarded to the fairest, a bone of contention that sparked the Trojan War, an international jury of wine experts convened in the French capital on this day in 1976 to carry out a blind-tasting—ultimately rating varieties of Napa Valley wines as superior to the historically more esteemed French vineyards. The results of course sparked controversy—top honours going to a 1973 chardonnay from Chรขteau Montelena and a cabernet Sauvignon from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars whereas the opposite outcome was rather a foregone conclusion, and marked a pivotal moment in the California industry (see previously) with a follow up match in 2006 on the event’s thirtieth anniversary that re-certified the standings.

Monday 23 January 2023

the thin white duke (10. 491)

Released on this day in 1976, David Bowie’s tenth studio album was the major vehicle for the above stage persona and enjoys a legacy, building on the commercial success of his previous record Young Americans to allow more creative liberties in the direction he took this next transitional collection of songs, reflecting an interest in the occult and Aleister Crowley and Nietzsche’s รœbermensch, as a departure but still among his most significant works—with exploration of new styles fully articulated in his Berlin Trilogy of the following year. Recorded in Los Angeles after completing shooting for The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bowie adapted the arc of narrative in the album from a partly autobiographical collection of short stories called The Return of the Thin White Duke he had written while off camera.

Thursday 8 December 2022

we are programmed to receive (10. 371)

Released by the label Asylum on this day in 1976, the Eagles’ fifth studio album would go on over the years to become one of the highest ranked records of all time, certified twenty-six times Platinum in the US alone and selling over thirty-two million copies worldwide and within the year alone winning several Grammy awards and bested only by Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, the title track as well as “New Kid in Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane” receiving many accolades. The concept album features a throughline of songs, lyrics chiefly written by Don Henley with contributions from Glenn Frey, that explore ideals realised and thwarted and the loss of that sense of naivetรฉ that things balance out in the end. Despite remarkable commercial success, the band’s best selling album remains Their Greatest Hits (1971 – 1975).

Thursday 23 June 2022

enter sandman

Featuring the talents of Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov, the dystopian sci-fi film set in a future where population and resource consumption is managed by rapturing (the Carrousel) people at the age of thirty, the cinematic adaption of the 1967 novel by George Clayton Johnson and William F Nolan had its debut in theatres on this day in 1976. Escaping the subterranean mega city, fugitives Logan 5 (whose job it was formerly to enforce this maximum age mandate but turned Runner himself) and Jessica 6 find themselves in an ice cave and encounter Box, a robot designed to capture fleeing individuals and freeze them for food. Expertly voiced by Shakespearian actor and director Roscoe Lee Brown, this commanding role influenced George Lucas to cast James Earl Jones the following year as the voice of Darth Vader. Below is an extended version of that performance, shortened in the release.

Sunday 31 October 2021

7x7: happy halloween edition

robert the doll: Key West’s most cursed object—see also—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see here)  

zombie jamboree: Harry Belafonte’s actual ghoulish calypso number—notwithstanding the associations with the Banana Boat Song 

la calavera catrina: a sugar skull puppet presents a primer on Dรญa de los Muertos  

westsonality: enjoy Paul Lynde’s 1976 Halloween Special with a cavalcade of guest stars  

respect the sabbath: periodic movements in the US to hold no Halloween on Sundays  

main title theme: the score for John Carpenter’s classic horror film Halloween 

lovecraft country: welcome to my metaverse—see previously

Sunday 5 September 2021

most sensational, inspirational, celebrational

Originally airing on the British ITV network before being picked up in syndication for American audiences, Jim Henson’s Muppet Show was first broadcast on this day in 1976—the characters and premise previewed with two pilots the previous two years, the first subtitled the Valentine Show with guest star Mia Farrow and Sex and Violence with an all Muppet cast.  

The first episode featured Joel Grey, the Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret, with the guest act being “Wilkommen” and father of Jennifer of Dirty Dancing fame. Musical numbers, guest interviews are interspersed with Fozzie Bear’s comedy routines, Gonzo’s random act of destruction and Muppet News flashes. The Swedish Chef’s cooking segments appeared in episode two.  Coincidentally on the same date five years earlier, the BBC was offered Sesame Street but rejected to add it to their programming schedule, framing the show as “indoctrination and a dangerous extension of the use of television” and having “authoritarian aims.” Independent broadcasters eventually brought the educational programme to the UK.

Wednesday 1 September 2021


With precedent disputes just after WWII and reignited after a fashion with Brexit fishing negotiations, the Cod Wars began in earnest on this day in 1958 when Iceland expanded its territorial waters to the edge of maritime claims by the UK and West Germany, with all sides sustaining losses over the next two decades as this protracted conflict continued with boats ramming into one other and the fishing nets of trawlers cut. Although in the aftermath of each skirmish, the International Court of Justice sided with Iceland’s claim, no resolution was reached until 1976 when Iceland threatened to withdraw from NATO if the matter wasn’t settled once and for all, an action that would denied the alliance’s submarines access to a strategic part of the North Sea (see also) at the height of the Cold War, brokering an agreement amenable to all parties. Following on from the truce, the United Nations codified the Law of the Sea and standardised exclusive nautical economic zones.

Saturday 14 August 2021

there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

Beginning a three-week streak at the top of the US charts on this in 1965, the ballad by Sonny Bono written for and performed with his then-wife Cher (previously) was inspired by Bob Dylan’s folk rock hit for the Turtles “It Ain’t Me Babe” with Bono expressing the opposite sentiment. In 1993, Cher recorded a cover-version with the animated characters Beavis and Butt-Head as a single from their comedy album The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience. That song also rated highly on international music rankings. In 2016, Cher performed a parody of it called “I Got you Bae” with commentary on relationships in the era of social media. Personally, we thought the best version—other than the performance on their variety hour in 1976—was Dorothy and Sophia as the duo on The Golden Girls.

Saturday 24 July 2021


Via Card House, our attention is directed to a record format called Sopic Cap Player and their portable party-in-a-box from 1976, impeccably sleek and modern looking for that vintage, that prefigured karaoke (a clipped compound meaning “empty orchestra,” ใ‚ซใƒฉใ‚ช) machines. The playlist includes “Champs Elysee” and “Waterloo Road” from Jason Crest with quite a few other cosmopolitan classics, demos and comparable technology linked in the comments section on this video shared by Techmoan’s Youtube channel.

Saturday 10 July 2021

sky rockets in flight

Charting both in the UK and the US, the Starland Vocal Band’s only hit “Afternoon Delight” began its run on this day in 1976, one of the biggest songs of the year. The group which began as a wife and husband duo—Taffy Nivert and Bill Danoff—wrote together with John Denver “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in 1971, eventually expanding into a full musical ensemble with keyboards and guitars and additional singers, and hosted an eponymous variety show on CBS—with David Letterman as a regularly featured writer—the following summer.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

if i concentrate hard enough, i can move things

Released in theatres in the US on this day in 1976, horror writer Stephen King only received twenty-five hundred dollars for the rights to his novel (in epistolary form)—which seems rather nominal compared to the thirty-four-million-dollar box office performance for North America and the continued franchise—but at age twenty-six was happy to receive that sort of recognition for his first published book, first in print just two years prior. Directed by Brian De Palma, the award-winning film stars Sissy Spacek as a shy high school student with a religiously fanatical mother who is relentlessly tormented by her peers—unaware of her telekinetic abilities.

Thursday 17 September 2020


Rise and shine, Turophiles, to the musical stylings of organist Ady Zehnpfennig from his 1976 record album Early Bird. Graduating from the accordion to an electronic Hammond organ (see also here and here) and formed a trio with his brothers, performing first at night clubs in Kรถln. The fun accompanying image is from the reverse jacket cover.

Saturday 18 July 2020

the freedom to use, the choice to choose

Since our previous exposure to corporate singalong show tunes was more cast in the golden era of American industry, we appreciated revisiting the theme as big business begins counting on government support and subsidies over innovation typified in this Big Oil revue released in 1976 to extol and mildly indoctrinate associates with the virtues of laissez-faire economics and minimal government regulation with a judicious dose of lobbying. “America’s way—the free enterprise way / That’s what got us here today!” Find more tracks from the Exxon Singers and related choral arrangements at Boing Boing at the link above.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

i want to destroy the passerby

Later included on their eponymous first album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, the band’s debut single Anarchy in the UK was released on this day in 1976. Giving voice to a generation of disenfranchisement and poor prospects, this anthem launched the genres of punk- and anarcho-rock, reclaiming and reshaping pop music from its nadir of blandness and timidity, called out in the lyric—“I use the enemy” or NME, the New Musical Express, a rather tame hit digest that would later come to champion the Sex Pistols and similar groups.


Monday 17 September 2018

orbiter vehicle designation 101

On this day (Constitution Day in the United States of America to mark its ratification in 1787) in 1976 President Gerald Ford christened the Space Shuttle Enterprise, named in response to an overwhelming Trekkie (“one of the most dedicated constituencies in the country”) letter campaign and the event was attended by the creators and cast of Star Trek.
Like the NCC-1701, it was not originally designed for spaceflight with no heat-shield for atmospheric re-entry (absent the expository device of a teleporter), the test vehicle was an important stepping stone to improve next generation vehicle engineering, famously piggy-backing aloft on a Boeing 747 to bring it to attitude and speed and testing its gliding maneuvers. The Enterprise was later retrofitted and flew missions in support of Skylab.