The Kickback Redux: That’s so ’70s
Miko Malabute | Monday, November 16, 2015
Back in 2013, former Observer Editor-in-Chief Andrew Gastelum introduced a recurring column that he referred to as “The Kickback.” He described kickback as “a Cali term, translating as both a verb and a noun, that means to get amongst your favorite dudes [and dudettes], bump your favorite music and just plain chill to the max.” In his column, he highlighted music, new and old, to bring to people’s attention and to freshen up their music rotation every now and again.
Well, two years later, we’re bringing it back. This week, Scene is launching “The Kickback Redux,” where each day we will highlight a certain album from a given decade to which you can kickback.
We start with the ’70s, when — along with the likes of the Bee Gees, the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder — Elton John reigned supreme over the musical landscape, particularly with his album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Obviously, none of our classmates were alive yet when this album was released, but “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is one of those timeless albums that seems to transcend all generational gaps. Ask anyone if they can hum the tune to “Bennie and the Jets,” and nine times out of 10 they’ll even start jamming along on their air piano. Even if they aren’t too familiar with Sir Elton John’s work on the album, one would be hard-pressed to resist busting a groovy move to “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” at their next house party or holding their lighters up in the air and waving them solemnly to the powerful chords of the title track.
With the current state and style of today’s popular music, it may be difficult to remember what used to constitute a “jam;” Elton John’s legendary album could serve as an invaluable history lesson for music lovers of all genres about how to achieve more with so much less. There was no need for all of the electropop sounds and technology that seemingly dominate today’s Billboard chart-toppers — all Elton John needed to get his audience moving and grooving was a piano, a guitar and, of course, his distinguished voice.
That’s not to say I’m one of those music purists who can’t get down to some Skrillex or get hyped to some Flo Rida. But albums like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” are a pleasant, welcome return to simpler times. Furthermore, listening to “Bennie and the Jets” and a song like “Hello” by Adele makes for an intriguing juxtaposition of Billboard chart-toppers, with the latter seemingly coming full circle in music’s growth and evolution. It seems that after all these years and the introduction of all these new sounds and sub-genres of music, the simple sounds of a guitar, a piano and a powerful voice will always have a place in listeners’ ears and hearts.
Gastelum was also very adamant about readers “kicking back” their own musical tastes to us at Scene, so we invite you all to do the same: If you have any music suggestions, tweet us at @ObserverScene and we might highlight your album suggestions.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.