The opening riffs of ‘Seven Ages of Rock’, a seven-episode odyssey through the annals of rock beginning Sunday, reverberate with the wild, jarring guitar notes of singer-songwriter Jimi Hendrix, newly arrived in England from the US. Each episode explores the history of rock music as an almost indispensable organ of popular culture.
From the grease and grime of punk to the oneiric hallucinations of psychedelic rock, it’s all there, manifested in artistes as diverse as The Velvet Underground, Iron Maiden and Queen.
The series’ creators have been careful to recognize the shifting musical landscapes on both sides of the Atlantic, remaining mindful of the cultural exchanges and the resulting sounds. There is a generous supply of archival footage and interviews with artistes and music critics, offering the viewer perspectives from within and without.
Like all histories, this too has its share of casualties, and one can complain about a certain artiste being given more screen time than another, perhaps unjustifiably.
The series hits Indian screens almost four years after it debuted on British television. Yet it succeeds as a riveting chronicle of the growth of rock lexicon and the social forces that shaped it.
‘Seven Ages of Rock’ will air at 8pm every Sunday from 10 July on BBC Entertainment.
Anupam Kant Verma