Review: Different Tracks – Music and Politics in 1970 by Steve Millward

Different TracksTitle: Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970 by Steve Millward

Author: Steve Millward

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Troubador Publishing/Matador

The Blurb

Steve Millward continues to explore the dynamic between musical and political change in his new book, Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970.

1970 signalled the end of an era. The Swinging Sixties came to a crashing halt as the world seemed to be changing for the worse. Ideological and generational rifts became deeper and violent protest more commonplace. Politicians dealt with realities, not dreams. The Vietnam War dragged on. As ever, popular culture mirrored it all with the death of Jimi Hendrix and the break-up of The Beatles. Yet these apparent crises produced a climate in which new ideas could develop, pointing the way to a decade when creativity and tumult went hand-in-hand.

‘This was the year when James Brown defined funk, prog bands reached a peak of extravagance and the search was on to fuse rock with jazz, folk and classical music… From the increased militancy of the Black Panthers, the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Angry Brigade to the new ways of living advocated by foodists, feminists and futurists – 1970 shaped the future in so many ways!’ observes Steve.

Manchester-based Steve co-wrote From Blues To Rock while teaching music courses at Manchester University. Since then, he has contributed to Women In Music Now, Juke Blues and, as jazz correspondent, the Manchester Evening News. His broadcasting experience includes a two-year spell as BBC Radio 5’s pop pundit.

Different Tracks is the second book in a trilogy that started with Changing Times: Music and Politics in 1964 and gives a comprehensive analysis of a thriving music scene where singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake rubbed shoulders with innovators like Curtis Mayfield and Frank Zappa.

The Review

In 2008 I received a 2.1 degree (with honours) in English and Cultural History combined with Media and Cultural Studies. It wasn’t until I started studying media that I thought about how culture is present in everything we consume media wise. This opened up a brand new world for me. I couldn’t just look at books or songs or films as isolated things.

We see the impact of society on life in the 1970s in Steve Millwards book Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970. Millward looks specifically at a period that is rife with social change, racial tension, wars, and political strife. In fact, the 1970s were a time of such transient nature that it seems a little hard to keep up. Millward, however, does it justice.

I felt like with every turn of the page of Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970 I learned something new and looked at the music being released at the time (1970, in particular) in a whole new way. With encyclopaedic knowledge, Millward takes you on a journey and it is one heck of a bumpy ride.

Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970 is perfect for students of cultural studies but if you are reading it just for a sense of nostalgia of that period then you may find it a bit heavy.

Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970 by Steve Millward is available now.

For more information regarding Steve Millward (@SteveMPopPundit) please visit

For more information regarding Troubador Publishing (@matadorbooks) please visit

3 Stars

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