Where has all the musical adventurousness gone?
My enthusiasm for ensemble sans frontières Oregon is shared by Trevor Hodgett who wrote the booklet essay for the newly released 1974. This double CD captures a live set by the band recorded in exemplary sound by Radio Bremen in March 1974. Oregon were then at the top of their game, and remained there until master multi-instrumentalist Collin Walcott was killed in an East German tour bus crash. Here is Trevor Hodgett's assessment of Oregon:
'The late 60s/early 1970s was an era when musical adventurousness and eclecticism had become almost the norm and when musicians like Miles Davis, The Beatles and The Grateful Dead were redefining popular music and blending genres in previously unimaginable ways. But Oregon, who formed in 1970, may just have been the most dizzyingly original band of them all, with a clearly irrepressible determination to transcend conventions and pursue their own unique musical vision.'
In 1974 Kraftwerk released their seminal album Autobahn, Patti Smith's debut single Hey Joe inaugurated punk rock, Steve Reich composed Music for 18 Musicians, Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet no. 15 was premiered, and the Altair 8800 was launched as the first commercial personal computer. Today we have 24/7 mobile computing and the wonders of Twitter, Facebook and Spotify. But where has all the musical adventurousness and eclecticism gone? Who is transcending conventions and pursuing their own unique musical vision?