Questions from the bbc.co.uk website about ‘Not Abba’ (August 2005)

Not Abba, but Haslam – Author, DJ, critic, Dave Haslam has worn many hats since he started his journey into sound. Now he’s redressing opinions of the 70s in his new book, Not Abba; the Real Story of the 1970s. We caught up with him to discuss the reality of the decade.

Why have you rewritten the 1970s?

“I lived through the decade as a teenager and the usual ‘I Love the 70s’ view I could never relate to; my friends and family and I, we were all into music, and films, and life, and culture, and going out, and clubs, and none of us had any Abba records, for example!”

What’s wrong with Abba?

“There’s nothing much wrong with them particularly, but to me they are symbolic of a frothy kind of pop music that never reflected the anger, conflict, and rawness of the 1970s.”

So who should we look back to?

“There’s so much! My version of the 1970s starts with bands reflecting some of the failures of the 1960s hippy dream – groups like Black Sabbath, for example – and also that golden age of soul – acts like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. And then we have the beginnings of roots reggae – Bob Marley, Burning Spear – and the best glam stuff like Bowie and Roxy Music which seems to then bleed into the New York punk scene – Blondie, Patti Smith, Television – and those versions of soul that we now call funk and disco. Then we have British punk and post-punk, and finally the book ends around the time of the Specials.”

No chance of you appearing on I Love The 1970s then?

“I’m not really a Saturday night TV kind of person. I think maybe I expect too much when I expect Saturday night TV that talks to peoples’ dreams and fears rather than their preconceptions.”

Why do you think the reality of that decade has been glossed over?

“The warm glow of nostalgia is like a comfort blanket. Generally, and emotionally, and in every way, people prefer to bury their heads in the sand. It’s the same with the present; we can’t seem to face the problems of the present – global warming, Third World poverty, the alienation in our ASBO nation – let alone those of the past.”

If you were to name the five most influential people of the 70s, who would you choose and why?

“That’s a cool question. Annie Hall, the character from the Woody Allen film, because women started dressing and talking like her. She was like all the cast of Friends rolled into one. Bob Marley, because his music understood people and the times he was living in. David Bowie, because the way he went through changes encouraged kids to believe they could change their lives and their world too. Steve Biko, the black South African leader who was murdered by the South African security services; this, and the authority’s response to the Soweto riots, showed how desperate and violent and morally bankrupt racism is. Finally, Martin Scorsese, because Taxi Driver and Mean Streets are two of the greatest films ever made and are two examples of why I love my version of the 1970s.”

And who were the five worst offenders?

“The five members of the Rubettes.”

What’s better – DJing or writing?

“I love the way they both communicate with people; DJing in a very spectacular and instant way, but ultimately writing goes deeper. I like doing both, and I feel lucky doing both.”