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Apple TV+ Premieres “1971” Series on Friday (Review)

A phenomenal new docuseries entitled “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything” is premiering on AppleTV+ this Friday, May 21.

Using David Hepworth’s book “Never A Dull Moment: 1971 The Year That Rock Exploded” as inspiration, an award-winning team of filmmakers has crafted a highly bingeable eight-part series that intertwines the music and politics of this volatile and highly creative moment in history.

I’ve been able to preview the first five episodes of the series, which was executive produced by Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees (“Amy,” “Senna“) and really wanted to put this on people’s radar because even as a music lover since childhood, this was absolutely packed with footage and stories I had never seen before.

Each episode hovers between 45 and 50 minutes, but manages to cover a lot of ground. If, like me, you weren’t quite born yet in 1971, you may be surprised to see how many absolutely classic records were released within the span of this one year.

Episode one focuses mostly on the demise of the Beatles, the creation of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, and Marvin Gaye’s masterpiece, “What’s Going On” amidst the turmoil of the Vietnam War and the shootings at Kent State University.

Episode two dives in to the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers,” and the wild world of Sly and the Family Stone, while episode three steers us into glam rock with the rise of David Bowie and T. Rex.

Episode four explores the softer side of the early 70s, with Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” and Carole KIng’s “Tapestry” alongside the first reality show on American television (PBS’ “An American Family”) and episode five illustrates how artists like Aretha Franklin and Gil Scott-Heron spoke their truth during the fight for civil rights while examining the work of the Black Panthers.

I look forward to wrapping up the last three episodes soon, but have been blown away by the cultivation of footage used and the effort to provide context to how the music was created during a time of such a political and cultural evolution.

The production uses archival audio for voiceover narration instead of typical talking head-style clips, but there are also contemporary interviews with artists like Elton John and Chrissie Hynde to give personal recollections – Hynde herself was a student at Kent State during the May 4, 1971 massacre on campus where National Guard members killed four and wounded nine students.

This is a highly recommended and well-researched deep dive into musical history that will undoubtedly teach you things you didn’t know about some of your favorite artists and albums.

All eight episodes of “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything” will premiere globally on May 21 on Apple TV+.

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