Friday, August 14, 2015

Retro Favorite Albums: 1972

1972, another big year for Classic Rock and Progressive Rock. A decent year for depth certainly, but I suppose the biggest thing that stands out is the TOP HEAVY-NESS of it. Genesis and Tull both put out my favorite record in their respective catalogs. Plus Floyd, Gentle Giant, ELP, Bowie, Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash stood out.

Neil Young - Harvest
rel February 14, 1972

One of Neil's most well-known records. "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man" are the two that ended up on the radio.

Nick Drake - Pink Moon
rel February 25, 1972

Nick Drake, I probably have almost subconsciously meant to check out for years, but never have. But this to many is considered his best record. I really need to check it out soon, as whenever I hear Nick Drake's music, I do enjoy every part of it.

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Michael Nesmith and the Second National Band - Tantamount to Treason Volume One
rel February 1972

Nez's 4th LP, and the 1st under the "Second National Band" which I imagine the lineup changes is the reason the name changed.

I forget, but I may have a copy of this record on vinyl. But if I don't, of course my fiancee has a couple different versions between Vinyl and CD I believe.

But from a track list standpoint, the standout track to me is definitely "Wax Minute" as I posted an entire entry about it HERE.

That track just plain rules. The pedal steel guitar solo that Red Rhodes plays is amazing, and a favorite of mine. Frankly, it makes that my favorite Nesmith track, even though it actually wasn't written by Mike but Richard Stekol, whose version I'm sad to say, I still have not checked out.

The rest of Tantamount I may get to revisit again and better evaluate, but if I was making a top 10 songs for 1972, "Wax Minute" would certainly be in there, despite all the prog competition.

for a more thorough (and in-depth review, check out this video just made with my fiancee about it .

Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick
rel March 10, 1972

This became my favorite Tull album not long after hearing it, some 12 or 13 years ago. Previously I was consumed by the brilliance of A Passion Play, but had read many claiming this to be even better. And frankly, I came to understand why.

It is 1 40+ minute song of course, divided up into 2 parts or sides on the Vinyl. And of course the Vinyl packaging/artwork is as big a part of this album as any of the music, with the whole newspaper design and extensively written fictional articles and advertisements, etc. A few years back, I even tracked down for an affordable price, a well-conditioned copy, which perhaps I will get around to showing on YouTube at some point.

But I guess musically, I enjoy the whole ride, but to pinpoint favorites sections, I would say definitely the 
flute-led section that goes to the part with:

So! Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t your rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super-crooks and
show us all the way.
Well! Make your will and testament.
Won’t you? Join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.
So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?

That and the trademark riff that is reprised at least a couple of times are probably my favorite sections.

Also the use of sax I recall stood out.

Foxtrot and this album likely would have been battling it out to win the crown, and it’s really a push, being my favorite record from each band. I guess I might lean towards this as I love a whole 1-piece listen when pulled off so well.

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Deep Purple - Machine Head
rel March 25, 1972

This by many, is considered their best or at least most popular and influential album. It of course includes their most well known song in “Smoke on the Water” which despite its frequent airplay, I find still holds up. Along with the song with the most well known power-chord intro in the history of Rock and Roll,

Machine Head also has some other greats like “Highway Star” which I love Jon Lord’s organ solo especially, and Ian Gillan’s screeching.  “Space Truckin’” is another corker..with the whole “cmon..cmon..cmon..cmon Space Truckin!” ..Ritchie Blackmore more or less made you bang your head on that part.

"Lazy" and "Pictures of Home" also are among the highlights of a classic and a breakthrough album for Purple.

Emerson Lake and Palmer - Pictures at an Exhibition
rel March 26, 1972

This is a well-regarded Double? Live album from ELP. And the truth about this is, I probably owe it to myself to revisit it. But when I 1st checked out ELP back in 1998 when Dream Theater and Deep Purple went on tour with them, I remember being bored to tears by either this and/or 1 of the Works records.

But, in glancing at the track list now, I suppose given it seems like an interpretive opera of some traditional pieces and some originals. But of course none of which were on their 2 studio records.

Okay, well for the sake of being an ELP fan and this from their early/good period, I give this historical value. And I should check it out again after some 17 years of a gap., But I imagine I can remember why it didn't grab me exactly right away.

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Wishbone Ash - Argus
rel April 28,1972

I’ve seen at least 2 incarnations of Wishbone Ash live, and both were fun shows. And while most of the stuff they played I dug, at this point, this remains the single record I’ve enjoyed and spent time with. I remember thinking how much they reminded me of Yes, namely on the infectiously energetic and upbeat tune “Sometime World.” Among the 1972, while this isn’t my favorite record, I would certainly think it would contend for the top 10.

The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street
rel may 12, 1972

A double LP from the Stones, which it seemed most bands ended up making at some point in the 70's. I know this is considered by some fans as one-of, if not their best record start-to-finish. Even though the track list doesn't offer any huge radio standards. But I suppose given that period for them, and the praise its received, it definitely would have been a record I would check out from '72. And still should hopefully soon.

"Tumbling Dice / Sweet Black Angel" and "Happy / All Down the Line" being the 2 singles from it.

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Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds
rel June 2, 1972

I still feel this is clearly, the most underrated/undermentioned and undeservedly, least talked about and appreciated Floyd album. Sure, it is for a soundtrack for the French film “La Valle” aka “The Valley” and the brief clips used in the film are honestly, too few and far between, although I do recall enjoying the film.

But man, I really love this album. Why? Less is more. It has some great, memorable, moody, 70’s hippie/feeling-good tunes. “Childhood’s End” certainly. I love Gilmour’s soaring riffs on that one. “Free Four” is quite catchy and would fit in with many of the Psych/Pop stuff of this period or the late 60’s. “The Gold That’s in the” and “Wuts..the deal” are 2 others I totally go for.  Even the closing piece "Absolutely Curtains" with the almost tribal type chanting I do think adds a nice cinematic ending to this record.

Is it as experimental as many of their others? I suppose not. But the blues-rock blend with the acoustic element really has a lot of charm for me. And frankly, I would not only place this very high among the records from 1972, but also in their catalog, as save for a couple of others like Animals and maybe Atom Heart, I can’t fathom preferring another one of their records, and I love Pink Floyd a ton.

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
rel June 16,1972

One of the more recognized Concept Albums in Classic Rock. I have heard a lot about it, and seen it on many lists. And I do know some of the individual tracks like "Suffragette City" and "Starman."

I suppose it's a record I could spent a little more time with and fall for, as when done well, I'm a sucker for concept albums of course.

It also includes Rick Wakeman who was on a few other Bowie albums of course ("Hunky Dory" I recall at least).

A record I might love and could see at least as a Top 10 for '72.

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Emerson Lake and Palmer - Trilogy
rel July 6, 1972

Another solid record from ELP, which includes the playful "Hoedown" the mesmerizing "From the Beginning," "The Sheriff," and "The Endless Enigma" Bookends on the 1st LP.

I guess I enjoy this album, but would not regard it as high as a couple of the other ELP classics like Brain Salad Surgery and especially Tarkus.

The title track I honestly don't recall whether I enjoyed it much or not, but it's been probably a decade since I listened to the cd I bought.

Yes - Close to the Edge
rel September 13,1972

This along with Fragile, in my 2nd go at getting into Yes, really did convert me. And while I do still enjoy this album, and initially I liked it maybe as much as Fragile and The Yes Album, I grew to find it a little overrated. Sure its 3 tracks seem well composed. And it does include Bill Bruford. However, I think why I find it a bit overrated is largely due to the Church-organ tone Rick Wakeman used on much of it. It was much worse on something like “Awaken” but it still shows up enough on this album for me to not love it as much as some of the other Yes records.

I do really dig "Siberian Khatru" though as that tune has this infectious energy that I still love. And the title track and And You And I I still enjoy a lot of. I guess I will always remember falling asleep and having parts of this album in my dreams. The whole “I get uhhhhhhhhhhp. I get dowwwwwwwwwwn. I get uhhhhhhhhp I get dowwwwwww-owwwwn” before the Church-organ part comes in, I still am a sucker for and can never forget a few overnights back around 2001 with the my jukebox cd player playing it.

A good Yes album, but for 1972, I can’t even be sure it would make the top 10. Genesis and Tull have it beat by quite a lot that year

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Black Sabbath - Vol. 4
rel September 25, 1972

Another quality record from Sabbath which includes the likes of "Changes," 'Tomorrow's Dream," "Supernaut," 'Laguna Sunrise," and "Cornucopia." As much as I don't listen to them incredibly often, the more records I revisit, the more I realize how consistent a band they were, at least with Ozzy in the early days.

Styx - Styx
rel September 25, 1972

I honestly have never heard this album, but I do enjoy more or less all of Styx's 70's stuff. It just doesn't include any of their well-known songs.  Even songs they have brought back live. They really were a Psych/Prog band, more than a poppy AOR band with prog elements. The follow up records I'm more familiar with, even though, those albums

But from the fans who know the early Styx, the prog folks namely, this is right in there among their best. "Movement for the Common Man"  seems right up there in the progressive rock tradition being a 13-minute multi-part suite.

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Return to Forever / Chick Corea - Return to Forever
rel September 1972

The 1st Return to Forever album, or Chick's 1st album using the name. I think I have this on Vinyl but of course have yet to check it out. It is the lineup with guitarist Joe Farrell, Flora Purim on vocals/flute and Airto Moreira on drums. Stanley Clarke would remain though.

Genesis - Foxtrot
rel October 6, 1972

My favorite Genesis record, and an all-time favorite like Thick as a Brick. Supper's Ready and a handful of other great tunes.

Click Here to read an extensive explanation

But to reiterate briefly, the section of the "Eternal Sanctuary Man" section of Supper's Ready I always get goosebumps during, and it may be my favorite part of any Genesis song ever.

"Can Utiility and Coast Liners" is so bloody good. The mellotron is so vintage. "Get Em Out By Friday" is such a grower track. Love the hell out of it. And "Watcher of the Skies" is epic and classic Gabriel-Genesis.

"Time Table" and "Horizons" also totally fit.

Perfect record, and like I said, certainly a battle with TAAB for the top of the mountain in '72. I imagine had I been listening to TAAB since March, when this dropped in early October, it would have sounded fresh, but still been difficult to take down Tull. But I really could flip a coin between the 2, as both are THAT good and huge favorites of mine.

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Stevie Wonder - Talking Book
rel October 28, 1972

By some this is considered the 1st of a bunch of Stevie's classic records. It does include "Superstitious" and "You Are the Sunshine Of My Life" among the standards.

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PFM - Per Un Amico
rel November 1972

I don't have this album yet from PFM, but I know among their catalog, this is one of their more well liked. This album I guess was in Italian, and some of the music was re-recorded in English on the follow-up Photo of Ghosts. In that sense, they did what Fair to Midland or Mew did in the 2000's.,

But I've always liked what I've heard from PFM, and felt they were my favorite Italian prog band, and this album actually could be a favorite among their catalog. And among '72, certainly would be one to consider among many, even as late in the year it came out.

Gentle Giant - Octopus
rel December 1, 1972

The brief amount of time I have spent with Gentle Giant's music, I guess this is the record I enjoy the most. Being a Kevin Gilbert fanatic, I probably should know their stuff better, but alas, in due time. I guess my go-to track on this album would have to be "Knots" from memory.

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Deep Purple - Made in Japan
rel December 1972

A classic live album, that includes a lot of the Machine Head material live of course. Except some extensive arrangements. The 19+ minute "Space Truckin'" maybe being the biggest jam.

Renaissance - Prologue
rel Fall? 1972 (recorded June-July)

The release date isn't quite clear, but it was recorded in the Summer, so a Fall release seems likely. Anyway, this is the 1st album with Annie Haslam on vocals and thus the *classic* Renaissance lineup began.

I do own this on both Vinyl and I think CD, but haven't spent tons of time with it. But I do know the title track well, and always enjoy it. The clear classical-music influence/arrangement and the Operatic chanting. A nice way to introduce Annie to their listeners.

The rest of the track list sounds familiar, but honestly, I am spacing on. But like the other early Renaissance albums (among others, like Return to Forever), I know this album is well regarded and so almost by default it would have found some regular rotation among the '72 releases for me.

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Il Balletto Di Bronzo - Ys
rel 1972

I saw this band at Nearfest in 2000 and was oddly impressed, even as quirky and almost campy their frontman seemed at time. Italian Prog, like Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and PFM among others (Le Orme, Area), they did a cool brand of prog, that was clearly influenced by Yes and Genesis, but with an italian twist.

And this is often regarded as their best record, so among '72, it certainly would be on my radar.