Sunday, December 30, 2012
Some of our fave songs from 1972 are the ones we didn't really know until we immersed ourselves in that year.
The Raspberries : Come Around and See Me
Arthur Lee : Everybody's Gotta Live
The Shocking Blue : Hot Sand (live)
Humble Pie : You're So Good ( To Me)
Gary Glitter : I Didn't Know I Loved You
Colin Blunstone : I Don't Believe in Miracles
Stackridge: Syracuse the Elephant
Jo Jo Gunne: Run Run Run
Grin: Lost a Number
Labi Siffre : It Must Be Love
Little Richard : If You Pick Her Too Hard
Smyle :It's Gonna Be Allright
Family: My Friend The Sun
Novos Baianos : Besta e Tu
Bobby Charles : Small Town Talk
Ernie Hines: Our Generation
Pretty Things : Peter
Manfred Mann's Earth Band : Part Time Man
American Spring: Thinkin' Bout You Baby
Jorge Ben : Taj Mahal
Otis Clay : Trying to Live My Life Without You
Bonnie Raitt : You Told Me Baby
Not sure what I'll do in 2013. Let's make it a Happy New Year though!
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
So the picture above, from ultimateclassicrock.com, is probably not a very good representation of my list of fave albums from 1972. My list is based on current enthusiasm and numbers of play over the past year of this "40 Year Itch" experiment. Click each album title for a link to the original post.
I'll do one more post featuring a zip file of some of my favorite songs posted this year so if you're new to 1001 Songs, this will be one more chance to get some great tunes. Not sure what I'll be doing in 2013. But with new pressures at work and ever present joys at home, posting once a day here will not be an option.
1. Os Novos Baianos Acabou Chorare
2. The Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street
3. David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
4. Jorge Ben Ben
5. Can Ege Baymasi
6. Donny Hathaway Live
7. Paul Simon (st)
8. Nick Drake Pink Moon
9. Big Star #1 Record
10. Neil Young Harvest
11. Mott the Hoople All The Young Dudes
12. Curtis Mayfield Superfly
13. Randy Newman Sail Away
14. Captain Beefheart Clear Spot
16. Steely Dan Can't Buy A Thrill
17. Dr John's Gumbo
18. Todd Rundgren Something/Anything
20.Manfred Mann's Earth Band
21. Genesis : Foxtrot
22 Lou Reed Transformer
23. The Harder They Come soundtrack
24 T.Rex The Slider
25. Stealers Wheel (st)
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Several years after parting ways with Fairport Convention, Ian Matthews teamed up with his former band mate Andy Roberts to record this somber, twangy folk rock album In Search of Amelia Earhart. This is one of those "growers". Given some time, it will reveal itself as a classic. There are two songs that are written directly about the disappearance of the ill-fated pilot Amelia Earhart, whom Matthews believed may have been taken prisoner by the Japanese.
Steve Earle once said "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." 1972 was a phenomenal year for Van Zandt who released two albums now sold as a single CD. High , Low and Between finds Townes in a good mood. The Cowboy Junkies cover of the love song "To Live Is To Fly" ( on Black Eyed Man ) turned me and many fans on to this Texas troubadour.
The Late Great Townes Van Zandt is the better known of his two 1972 releases thanks to covers of "Pancho and Lefty" ( recorded by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris) and "If I Needed You " ( Emmylou again) , the latter Townes claimed to have written in his sleep. Townes sings in such a sad way he tends to diminish the pretty melodies he's created.
[Purchase with The Adventures of Panama Red]
For Gypsy Cowboy, New Riders on the Purple Sage pound stakes in the backyard of the Flying Burrito Brothers. It's not really remarkable to these ears but the band stretches out on David Nelson's nearly nine minute brazen copy of "Down By The River " called "Death and Destruction", which sounds like Green On Red a decade early.
Chris Hillman was the last of the original Flying Burrito Brothers by the time they said goodbye with this live album performed before an enthusiastic crowd. Gram Parsons had signed with Reprise Records and was off recording GP or hanging out with Keith Richards.
On his second album, J J Cale adds keyboards to his Naturally laid back Tornado alley groove to great effect on the single "Lies". This is who Mark Knopfler was trying to sing like..not Bob Dylan. And this is what the Atlanta Rhythm Section wanted to sounds like ...not the Alan Parsons Project.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Released originally as an eight-track called All American Music in 1972, this obscure recording really did become legendary when band mates Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely found success later in their careers. The guy who played musical saw did not become famous...and my ears still can't get used to the sound. But More a Legend Than a Band deserves its cult status thanks to songs like "Dallas", "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown" and "One Day at a Time".
The man who wrote "Mr Bojangles" has by now shed his folksinger persona for that of a Texas dope smoking chilled out party animal...who wakes up some mornings with short lived regrets. Recorded in both NYC and Austin, Walker is backed by a superb band that makes "laid back" actually rock.
This song may be the biggest gem of the post. Unfairly, Willis Alan Ramsey is best known for writing "Muskrat Candlight" which became "Muskrat Love" for both America and Captain and Tennille. He recorded one perfect album at the age of 21 and has yet to make a follow-up. ( Willis asks "What's wrong with the first one?")
Country singer Steve Young is best known for writing the title track of the 1972 album Seven Bridges Road, which was covered by The Eagles on their 1980 live album. When looking for the origins of "outlaw country" you might just want to start here.
Linda Ronstadt, the singer's third solo album, is a mixed bag. Some sweet country covers ("I Fall To Pieces", "I Still Miss Someone") and a number of singer songwriting gems ( Jackson Browne's "Rock Me On The Water", Neil Young's "Birds"). Most notable, because the backing band --made up of Glenn Fry, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner --became The Eagles.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Some more chunks of funk from 1972. I'll have to admit at this point I'm not going to be able to get to every great album from this magnificent year.
For their second album, the Dayton Ohio funksters knocked out a tight classic that went gold in part because of another eye-catching album ( they would get more eye-catching ) and the presence of a #1 R and B novelty hit called "Funky Worm". Dig for the deeper cuts ( like "Laid It", "Pride and Vanity") and you won't be disappointed.
The Isley Brothers recordings of the 1970's are almost always a rewarding listen and Brother Brother Brother is no exception. Hanging out just behind the beat, the Brothers stretch out ( "It's Too Late" runs ten groovin' minutes) with the help of some young Isley cousins: guitarist Ernie Isley, bassist Marvin Isley and keyboardist Chris Jasper. The addition of new blood would pay off to an even greater degree on 1973's 3 + 3 . Features both the Top 40 hit "Pop That Thang" and "Work To Do" which would be covered by the Average White Band on AWB.
Producer and songwriter extraordinaire ( "Working In a Coalmine", "A Certain Girl", "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky", "Fortune Teller") Allen Toussaint follows up his 1971 solo album with Life, Love and Faith. Toussaint IS New Orleans music...though his songs are best served by other singers. Still when you've got The Meters backing him up, you've got something special. Remarkably diverse.
Released in April of 1972, this album of duets is one of the year's great soul gems. Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway both attended Howard University ( tho' at different times) and Roberta Flack covered Hathaway songs on her first two albums. And that was before the two met and discovered their tremendous chemistry. "Where is the Love" topped the Easy Listening and R and B charts and peaked in the pop charts at #5. The two would duet again in 1978 with the gorgeous "The Closer I Get To You" (#2 Pop, #1 R and B). On a sad note, it seems half the time I stay in New York City I'm booked at the Essex House. From that hotel's balcony, Hathaway apparently jumped to his death in 1979. A lovely man who also recorded 1972's best live album.
Friday, December 21, 2012
As the year comes to a close, we at 1001Songs realize there are some gaps to fill before we can declare that we have successfully scratched that 40 year itch. Today we scratch that soul itch with notable releases we didn't get to in 2012.
Funkadelic follows up their classic 1971 album Maggot Brain with a freak funk double album. The star of Maggot Brain, scorching guitarist Eddie Hazel, has all but disappeared by now but the expanded Funkadelic line-up now includes former JB's member Bootsy Collins. America Eats Its Own is surprisingly political ( the title cut claims America is a bitch that sucks the brains of her great grandsons and daughters")
but also includes George Clinton's usual sexual puns ( "Wild and warm is my pussy", Clinton sings on "I Call My Baby Pussycat", "My pussy is where it's at" ) .
The JB's are James Brown's backing band so it's little wonder that some of these cuts sounds like backing cuts. You're leaning into the speaker expecting to hear the Godfather of the Soul. Some of these cuts --apparently collected from a variety of years--can be heard on other albums. "Escapism" is on the 1971 James Brown album Hot Pants. It's good, maybe even great...but I'm spending my money on The Meters.
"Whatcha See is Whatcha Get" is one of 1971's great singles and it, along with "In The Rain" helped the Detroit R and B group The Dramatics hit the Top 20 with their 1972 debut album. Yes, the songs were great but so were the super fly dance steps and prom suits.
For his second solo album, the former Temptations singer delves into Afro-centric grooves like the title cut, some funky grooves ( "Let Me Run Into Your Lonely Heart") and most notably an eight minute precursor to the whole Disco scene called "Girl You Need A Change of Mind". Check out the Thin Man from Birmingham's tune below and you'll hear why it filled the dance floor. Damn, I wish I owned this album. Especially because a rare CD copy runs no less than $104 on Amazon.com
We'll have four more great chunks of funk in a later post!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
1972 was the year 13-year old Tanya Tucker hit the Top 5 with "Delta Dawn". The Fan Fair debuted and Opryland USA opened in Nashville. Countrypolitan was still dominating country music radio-- string sections replacing fiddles and steel guitars. And it was a good year for cross-overs from country to the pop charts especially for newcomer Donna Fargo and Mac Davis.
Johnny Cash is on a roll with his network TV show, White House concerts and recent marriage to June. He celebrates the latter with his 38th album A Thing Called Love which includes his wedding song " I Promise You".
Here's another wedding song. This one, written by Donna Fargo, almost went to 13 year old starlet Tanya Tucker. Good thing for both of them that Tanya wound up recording "Delta Dawn". "Happiest Girl" made Donna Fargo a cross-over a star. She followed it with another smash hit "Funny Face".
1972 was a good year for Merle Haggard. Then California Governor Ronald Reagan pardoned The Hag for his past crimes ( including burglary, robbery, and larceny) And Haggard released Let Me Tell You About a Song featuring two #1 hits ( "Daddy Frank", "Grandma Harp") as well as the ground-breaking "Irma Jackson", a song about an interracial romance.
The writer of the 6 million selling single "Harper Valley PTA", Tom T Hall hit #1 on his own with "(Old Dogs, Children And) Watermelon". The single , released in November of 1972, is a true account of a conversation Hall had with a old black janitor at the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami.
George and Tammy renewed their vows on the album Me And The First Lady in the song "The Ceremony". Jones was already such an erratic a performer he was earning the nickname "No Show" Jones. Tammy, on the other hand, at earned the title "First Lady of Country Music".
The same year the Hag released "Irma Jackson", Buck Owens made his first #1 in three years with his own song about an interracial romance. "Made in Japan" is about a girl "made in Japan". Recorded with The Buckaroos, it features a steel guitar which seemed to be an endangered sound on Country radio at the time.
Dolly Parton was on a hit making streak in the early 70's both as a solo artist and with Porter Wagoner. Although some country stations, citing "sexually suggestive lyrics", refused to play the title cut of her 1972 album Touch Your Woman, the single still hit #6 on the country charts. I guess following it up with the album cut "A Lot Of You Left In Me" was a non-starter.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
As spectacular a year as 1972 has been for progressive rock, glam rock, Krautrock, Italian rock n roll, soundtracks, and R and B...what truly made it an outstanding year for music is what happened in Brazil. MPB, Musica Popular Brazileira, is a blending of traditional Brazilian samba with contemporary folk, rock and jazz sounds. Its innovators, Os Novos Baianos, Jorge Ben, Chico Buraque were joined by psychedelic 60's/Tropicalia veterans Tom Ze, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa and Clube da Esquina mainstays like Milton Nascimento and Lo Borges to create an unforgettable year.
There are three must have albums from Brazil circa '72. Acabou Chorare by Novos Baianos tops this list for reasons discussed in an earlier post. Jorge Ben's mostly acoustic album, Ben, has the most played song on my iPhone "Caramba". Both "Caramba" and "Fio Maravilha" were on the Brazil Classics compilation David Byrne put together in the early 90's. Finally there's Clube da Esquina which has been called the Brazilian Sgt Pepper's. It's lush recorded by Milton Nascimento with some input from Lo Borges. You could really make somebody's Christmas by buying them all three.
Here are video clips from some of the best Brazilian music from 1972.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Neil Diamond followed his chart topping hit "Song Sung Blue" with a series of ten "Hot August Night" concerts at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles ( recorded for a live album released on December 9, 2012) and then a 20-concert stand at the Winter Garden Theater in New York.
Hot August Night is considered to be the ultimate Neil Diamond album, one part sterling showman at his peak; one part pure kitsch. Neil usually toured with a small rock band but for this epic outdoor setting, he brought in a orchestra that somehow doesn't overwhelm the tunes. Brimming with confidence, "Brother Love" played his hits ("Solitary Man", Cherry,Cherry", "Sweet Caroline") and some light-weight filler ("Porcupine Pie", "Soggy Pretzels"). The most recent release has 24 songs
Burned out, he announced he'd be taking a break from performing, telling the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner: "I felt strongly about taking a sabbatical. I wanted a normal existence. I wanted to remove myself from celebrity status..to do things people take for granted, like driving my son to school and having breakfast with my wife. I wanted to re-establish personal relationships with family and friends...to be home for birthdays and Christmas. To make up for times I wasn't around...to stop seeing my life as a juggling act."
The break lasted just over three years.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
And so, finally we come to 2066 And Then and their 1972 debut album Reflections On The Future.
Though only together for a year, this German hard rock band produced a hard rocking psychedelic marvel that would appeal to basement stoners who favor the riff rockers ( "At My H0me") and spaced out jams ( the 15 minute title cut) of Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly. The name of the band harkens back to the Norman Conquests and the Battle of Hastings. It's just a thousand years later...and then.
This band hits it on every level... from the exceptional musicianship to the husky, bad ass vocals. One of my favorite surprises in my year-long quest for great music from 1972.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
40 years before Disney bought Marvel for $4 Billion, a British prog rock band called Icarus released a tribute album to the great superheroes of Marvel Comics. So you have songs called "Spiderman", "Thor", "Captain America" and "Conan The Barbarian". The lyrics are a bit over the top for the most part --though I like "Hulk"'s chorus:
Hulk is on the rampage/ Doesn't understand
Cuz underneath that thick green hide is a very mixed up man
And speaking of mix ups, when Marvel's chief honcho found out about the album he demanded Marvel receive 50% of the royalties. Instead, Pye Records pulled the album...making The Marvel World of Icarus a super rare, super album about super heroes.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
In the video below, frequent Beach Boys/Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks doesn't really have a hell of a lot to say about his 1972 classic Discover America. So I'll try to fill in the blanks just a bit. Don't get thrown by the title. This is an album that will help you discover Trinidad. Especially the quaint , reportorial kind of folk songs made famous by calypso kings like Wilmoth Houdini and Attila the Hun. Songs like "Bing Crosby" and "FDR in Trinidad" ( recorded on this album with the help of Little Feat) have lyrics that read like editorials in small town newspapers:
With his charming and genial personality and his wonderful urbanity
We were struck by his modest style
and we were intrigued by the famous Roosevelt smile
Discover America isn't all calypso and steel drums. There are covers of two Allen Toussaint songs and one by Little Feat. "John Jones" has hints of reggae. Would a major label ever distribute anything like this in 2012? Probably not. But I agree with AllMusic's decree that this is an "eclectic masterpiece of multi-cultural Americana.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Marvin Gaye followed up his Motown masterpiece What's Going On with Trouble Man, a great soundtrack to a not so good blaxploitation movie starring Robert Hooks as "Mr T."( Yeah , I didn't see it either.)
Marvin Gaye had been cast in a 1971 film called Chrome and Hot Leather. But he was virtually ignored by the director. As Cameron Crowe describes it in a recent NPR interview , Gaye spent most of the time hanging out with the crew "learning the craft of the movie through the men who were shooting it and that is how you really discover the beating heart of a movie...what happened was he took, I think, this experience into the studio."
Saxophonist Trevor Lawrence, who played on the soundtrack, says Marvin was very hands on. Gaye is credited with vocals, drums, keyboards and piano. The drums are often looped. The keyboard is a mini moog . More than anything else, there's an alchemy at work--of jazz, orchestra and soul.This year Universal Music has re-released a special edition of the soundtrack.Most people agree it's worth checking out--tho' Robert Christgau dismissed the album at the time with two lines:
"Buy the single unless you like soundtrack albums. This ain't no super-fly shit"
Monday, December 3, 2012
Cult faves Gentle Giant--celebrated even today for their complex, sophisticated, eccentric recordings-- had to endure the most shaming indignity before heading out on the tour to support Octopus ( released in December of 1972). They had to open for Black Sabbath:
For the Gentle Giant novice, Octopus is the place to begin. It features all the odd, multi-instrumental, multi vocal adventures and twee and twiddly moments that are the hallmark of this band of brilliant musicians... with the benefit of being extremely listenable.
One of the album highlights is "Knots" which kicks off with three part a capella vocals and then just gets stranger and stranger.
I suppose the oddest footnote to Gentle Giant is the fact that upon the band's break up, Derek Shulman became a big deal at Polygram Records. He's the guy who signed Bon Jovi.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
To promote the monster single "Pass The Dutchie ( On The Left Hand Side)" which went #1 in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland and #10 in the US, drummer Junior Waite gave the November 25, 1982 edition of Smash Hits a reggae heavy Top ten list, with two shout outs to Black Uhuru. The image above comes courtesy of Brian at Like Punk Never Happened.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
When the BBC banned the A side " Hi Hi Hi", released on December 1st, 1972, for its sexually suggestive lyrics "get you ready for my body gun" ( as opposed to the obvious drug reference : "we're gonna get hi hi hi"), disc jockeys flipped the 45 and played the reggae toss off "C Moon". In the UK "C Moon" became a Top 5 hit. McCartney revisited the song in concert every so often including his surprise performance at Amoeba Records in Hollywood back in 2007.
Probably the most interesting thing about the song is who played the instruments. Guitarist Henry McCullough played drums. Drummer Danny Seiwell played vibraphone. Denny Laine played bass. Probably the least interesting thing about the song is its lyrics:
C moon C moon C moon is she
C moon C moon C moon is me.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Following their exhausting, drug-fueled North American "STP" Tour, The Rolling Stones gathered in Jamaica in late November to begin sessions for their follow up to Exile On Main St. Although the Stones would never admit it, something was missing. Sure, the single "Angie" would hit #1 in the US in 1973 and so would the album Goats Head Soup. But this hit and miss record marks the end of the classic Rolling Stones album era which began with Beggars Banquet in 1968 and included Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile.
Writing for Creem, Lester Bangs said
"There is a sadness about the Stones now, because they amount to such an enormous 'So what?' The sadness comes when you measure not just one album, but the whole sense they're putting across now against what they once meant..."
Who's Angie about? David Bowie's wife? Richards has said Angie is heroin : ("Heroin, you're beautiful/ But ain't it time we said goodbye").
Thursday, November 29, 2012
I'm reading Neil Young's Waging Heavy Peace ( skip the first 50 pages and Neil starts to settle down and tell his story). I think it's fair to say Neil's the kind of guy who likes to have a lot of plates spinning at the same time. Journey Through the Past is the soundtrack to an experimental, critically panned concert film that wouldn't be seen for two more years. Unreleased on CD, among the best stuff is this seven minute Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young version of "Southern Man"
With her debut, The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler introduces audience to the brassy, self-mocking "Bathhouse Betty" who first stole hearts in cabaret shows performed in NYC gay clubs. The album went Top 10 and remains a fan favorite.
With the help of "Brand New Key" ( I got a brand new pair of roller skates/ You got a brand new key) , Melanie became Billboard's #1 Female Vocalist of 1972. Her follow-up, Stoneground Words, is the work of a mature, intelligent artist. Naturally nobody bought it. Yet , today it is often referred to as a great under-heard classic.
Basically, Cream's Jack Bruce replaced a heroin addicted Felix Pappalardi on bass to form a new version of Mountain. But by changing their name, Leslie West, Jack Bruce and Corky Laing could renegotiate their record contract. The result was a whopping $1 Million/ Three Album deal. The label didn't care for the debut album enough to promote it but Why Doncha is worth a listen for those who like their riffs heavy and bass lines plodding.
After years of recording albums on his own Takoma label, the inventive guitarist John Fahey released his first Reprise album in November of 1972. Of Rivers And Religion would be selected as one of top ten albums of the year by Time Magazine and Robert Christgau says it's Fahey's best but most critics weren't so kind.
I haven't found the time or desire to get to know all of Fahey's work. To me it sounds as good as anything else I've heard him do.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Anyway, Focus followed up their international prog metal yodeling classic "Hocus Pocus" with this double album, Focus III, released in November of 1972. The yodeling is kept to a minimum tho I think you can hear some hints of operatic singing about two minutes into "Sylvia", a major hit everywhere but in the US. To my ears this sounds like a really bad TV theme. An adventure show starring a lifeguard and his pet chimp. "Surf Chimp" I think we'll call it. Starring Jan Michael Vincent.