Tag: 1972

David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

ARTIST: David Bowie                      220px-ZiggyStardust

TITLE: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #21 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: Starman (#65 US, #10 UK), Rock and Roll Suicide (#22 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lady Stardust, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City

LINEUP: David Bowie, Mick Robnson, Trevor Bolder, Mick Woodmansey. Rick Wakeman played on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A cultural touchstone of the glam movement and an influence to punk and art-rock for 70’s kids in the UK.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sure, a dystopian concept album had been done before, and an album where music was going to save the kids had been done before. Also, albums done as a ‘character’ had been done before. Why was this such a success?

In short, the music, lyrics, and total commitment by Bowie to the Ziggy Stardust persona and the theme, which was intentional, or perhaps serendipity. Ziggy also spoke to disaffected, questioning youth everywhere. His clothes, his sexuality, everything. It spoke to those kids.

This is Bowie maturing as a songwriter and hitting the right note with everything on the record. The riffs, tones, and arrangements are on point. Even the cover song, “It Ain’t Easy”, fit right in. Today, the record can still speak to everyone, and that in itself is remarkable.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It was said that Ziggy was influenced by Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, and some others, like Vince Taylor

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some outtakes and B-sides (like “Velvet Goldmine”) and a stand alone single “John, I’m Only Dancing (#12 UK)

 GRADE A+: It’s Bowie’s best and it still resonates.

John Prine – Diamonds in the Rough

ARTIST: John Prine                     DiamondsJohnPrine

TITLE: Diamonds in the Rough

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #148

SINGLES: Everybody

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Souvenirs, Yes I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You, The Great Compromise

LINEUP: John Prine, Steve Goodman, David Bromberg, Dave Prine, Steve Burgh

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from this troubadour mines the same territory of his excellent debut, but this time the song depth isn’t quite there. That’s kind of a quibble.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Instead of front to back classics, the second album from John Prine merely has some classics interspersed through the record. Oh, darn.

“Souvenirs” and “The Great Compromise” are on most people’s list of Prine favorites. Not everyone can get allusions to the compromised history of the US and Vietnam into the same song.

But a few tracks are too much like each other or like those from his first album. Variety is a little short here. The songs are mostly fine, but for that, the album suffers a bit.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album took three days and focused on bluegrass and other country idioms.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A-: Not as rich as his debut, but it’s still a fine album.

 

Thin Lizzy – Shades of a Blue Orphanage

ARTIST: Thin Lizzy                          220px-Thin_Lizzy_-_Shades_of_a_Blue_Orphanage

TITLE: Shades of a Blue Orphanage

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not here, but the first bonus track put them on the map.

LINEUP: Phil Lynott, Eric Bell, Brian Downey. Clodagh Simonds plays keyboards.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The second album repeats many of the same problem their first album had – though it is more of a rocker than a folker.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When your second album starts out with “Rise and Dear Demise of the Funky Nomatic Tribes” you just wonder what the hell you’re getting yourself into – and to boot the track starts with a drum solo. Starts…with a drum solo. Then the riff kicks in and all seems to be well. At least for that track.

Thin Lizzy was still definitely a work in progress in 1972. They weren’t totally convincing as rockers, and didn’t quite have the focus in storytelling, either. What they had was glimpses of good stuff in and around the full tracks. Still, there are a couple of cringy clunkers that make you wonder. The production is flat and all mid-range – it’s like Brian Downey’s cymbals don’t exist.

Struggling to find an audience, Thin Lizzy’s next move was to release a traditional folk song as a single. You know it…”Whiskey in the Jar”.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The name of the album was taken from the bands the group was in before forming Thin Lizzy, Shades of Blue and Orphanage.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with the A/B of “Whiskey in the Jar” (#6 UK) and BBC tracks. 

GRADE: C: It’s safe to say that single saved their career (at least in the UK).

 

Earth, Wind & Fire – Last Days and Time

ARTIST: Earth Wind & Fire                 Lastdaysandtimealbum

TITLE: Last Days and Time

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #87, #15 R&B

SINGLES: Mon (#104)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover Bread’s Make It with You and Where Have All the Flowers Gone. No, really.

LINEUP: Verdine White, Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Jessica Cleaves, Roland Bautista, Ronnie Laws, Larry Dunn, Ralph Johnson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A re-booted band and a new record label. EWF begins its journey to being a top flight funk / soul / disco behemoth.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A change in record company coupled with a change in band – that signaled a change in the direction for Verdine and Maurice White’s horn-based funk and soul outfit.

Maurice began using the kalimba extensively, coloring their work with the sound of the talking drum. They also got a dynamite singer in Philip Bailey, whose falsetto covered all of the high notes and blended with the other vocals to create some ethereal backing vocals. With Bailey on board, romantic ballads were also in their wheelhouse now.

The covers were ‘interesting’ but not horrible. EWF were skilled at arranging those songs to make them their own. The only things that don’t fit are the three ‘interludes’, which are more annoying than anything else. Those I exiled.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Roland Bautista left the band soon after, but joined the group again in 1981 and stayed for a couple more years. 

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B:  The interludes knock it down a little bit, but this is a fine unheard gem that showcases the band forming their new sound.

Neu! – Neu!

ARTIST: Neu!                           Neu_albumcover

TITLE: Neu!

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Negativeland

LINEUP: Michael Rother, Klaus Dinger

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An early Kraftwerk offshoot records an album that has become known in underground circles as an inspiration for several avant-garde artists.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The “Motorik” beat, an unwavering 4/4 drum pattern with the occasional crash or smash cymbals, became the beat for Krautrock and other early electronic bands, and it was first heard here on “Hallogallo”, the leadoff track for this duo of Kraftwerk refugees.

Recording with Conny Plank, this record by Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger became a touchstone for future experimental musicians and a backbone of the Krautrock movement. Yet only two tracks (“Hallogallo” and “Negativeland”) seemed straightforward as far as an actual song goes – the other material was mostly electronic or tape-related doodling.

It may have been influential, but I think most people just stick to the two tracks with the Motorik beat. I know I am.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Negativeland, the notorious sonic pranksters, took their name from the track on this album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: It’s ‘important’, and mostly boring.

 

The Doobie Brothers – Toulouse Street

ARTIST: The Doobie Brothers                The_Doobie_Brothers_-_Toulouse_Street

TITLE: Toulouse Street

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #21

SINGLES: Listen to the Music (#11 US, #29 UK), Jesus Is Just Alright (#35 US), Rockin’ Down the Highway

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The deep cuts got buried

LINEUP: Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Tiran Porter, John Hartman, Michael Hossack. Bill Payne helped on keyboards. Dave Shogren contributed to two cuts before he left.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Finding a sweet spot with semi-rockin’, semi-country, laid-back tunes, the Doobie’s second album is better, and more popular.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Changing bassists, adding a second drummer, and polishing up their songwriting helped the Doobie Brothers break through on this album. Not that it’s a world beater, but it’s better than their first by leaps and bounds.

The sound still isn’t that adventurous, though befitting the name of the album they add horns and try to invoke a New Orleans groove to a few tracks, and also throw some gospel with a cover of the Byrds arrangement of “Jesus Is Just Alright”. There’s some tracks that are primarly acoustic tracks, and a couple that could be off-ramps to concert jams. All in all, a definite mainstream 1972 record.

The penultimate cut “Disciple” shows what the Doobies could be if they wanted to rock all the time. Alas, no.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Hossack left the band because of disagreements with producer Ted Templeman.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: I don’t have bad things to say about this. It’s standard and mainstream, with decent deep cuts. They could rock out if they wanted to.

Tami Lynn – Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone

ARTIST: Tami Lynn                              love is here tami lynn 2

TITLE: Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: I’m Gonna Run Away from You (#4 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mojo Hanna, That’s Understanding

LINEUP: Tami Lynn and session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Intriguing soul album half-pieced together from older tracks, and then new tracks with spoken monologues between the cuts.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This record is interesting in many ways, outside of the good to great soul music that it contains. The second side is many of Tami Lynn’s singles (or tracks she recorded as singles) dating back from 1966, with “I’m Gonna Run Away from You” belatedly hitting the charts in 1971 in the UK thanks to the Northern Soul junkies.

That gave Lynn a chance to fill out an album, and the first side is interesting as it’s some good soul slow jams, ending with a jubilant “That’s Understanding”. The tracks have monologue introductions by Lynn, talking about the stages of a love affair. love is here tami lynn

Those spoken pieces don’t add much to the tracks as far as I’m concerned, so it kind of ruins the flow of what otherwise would be a good to great soul record.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She sang backing voals for many groups in the 60’s and 70’s

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: A downgrade for the monologues, which ruin the flow.

King Crimson – Earthbound

ARTIST: King Crimson                                  220px-King_Crimson_-_Earthbound

TITLE: Earthbound

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 21st Century Schizoid Man (live)

LINEUP: Robert Fripp, Boz Burrell, Mel Collins, Ian Wallace

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A crappily recorded live record by a band on the verge of breaking up (well, at least, leaving Fripp behind). You can imagine…

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I’m sure that the shows presented here, if you attended them, were pretty good. King Crimson live has always been built on improvisation with unexpected twists and turns and interesting angles on their extant songs.

This record, from their 1972 US tour, was the sound of a band breaking away from its leader. Robert Fripp had once again alienated a band, and by the end of the tour his three bandmates were off doing their own thing. The band was deep into improve, with two of the tracks truly off-the-cuff, and two others variations on already recorded instrumentals. Only “21st Centry Schizoid Man” is somewhat recognizable from the record and it’s powerful and scary.

That would be great, and many fantastic live Crimson gigs are out there that contain a lot of improv. What makes this record egregious is the recording medium – a low quality cassette tape recorded on a two-track plugged into the mixer which totally distorts the sound, makes it muddy, and nearly impossible to improve even with the best technologies available today.

The sad thing is that this would be decent, if not for the sound. But it was foisted on the public because by all accounts King Crimson was dead and Island wanted some final cash from them, and Fripp agreed to it (if he had a choice, even).

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Wallace, Burrell, and Collins joined Alexis Korner for a while after splitting with Fripp.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there will be a new box set from this era which may have better sounding live dates

GRADE: D: This should never have been released. Many bootlegs sound better than this. It doesn’t get an “F” because the version of “Schizoid Man” is terrifying (in a good way, as it should be).

 

Curtis Mayfield – Superfly

ARTIST: Curtis Mayfield                220px-CurtisMayfieldSuperfly

TITLE: Superfly

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 R&B, #26 UK

SINGLES: Freddie’s Dead (#4 US, #2 R&B), Superfly (#8 US, #5 R&B, #52 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Pusherman

LINEUP: Curtis Mayfield, Joseph Lucky Scott, Master Henry Gibson, Morris Jennings, Carig McMullen. Tyrone McCullen played drums on one track. They used session strings and horns.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A soundtrack that was much better than the movie. An iconic funk album perfect for the mood in summer 1972 (which was dark and dingy).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While Curtis Mayfield definitely had some appeal thanks to his work with the Impressions and his solo work, it was this album that thrust him into the stratosphere as a musical innovator, producer, and arranger.

Mayfield’s high, pleading voice was perfect for the story of the movie and how he told it, which was a grim tale of drugs in the inner city – a lot grimmer than the film to be honest. Yet, as impressive as Mayfield’s vocals were, it was his use of funk, coupled with horns and an orchestra, that captured the perfect sound for these songs.

On all accounts, this is a powerful testament, and highly influential. Mayfield was always writing about positivity and empowerment, and through the bleakness there is hope. Musicians should still study this album for the impact that melody and arrangement can have in creating a mood and feel, while still enjoying the funk.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Many executives didn’t think this was going to be a hit. Oh, how wrong they were.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. A version with working demos and studio outtakes exist. Intriguing to hear the process of the record.

GRADE: A+: A perfect soundtrack for the times, and the movie.

Bang – Bang

ARTIST: Bang                                                                  bang

TITLE: Bang

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #164

SINGLES: Questions (#90)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wow, no.

LINEUP: Frank Ferrara, Frank Glicken, Tony Diorio.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Heavy Philly proto-metal bands first release was met with mostly indifference, but now is looked at as proto-doom.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Throw this into the proto-metal power trio hopper – Bang features a bassist and vocalist singing in a high (but not shrieking) register, along with a guitarist and drummer. But the music was sludgy and heavy, more like Sabbath than anything.

With its sound, Bang was definitely too heavy for real commercial success in the 70’s, despite the charting of a hit single. The production sounds muddy, as studios didn’t really know how to process a sound like theirs – lots of low end mud.

There’s some good stuff here, though, and you can see why “The Queen” is an influence on later doom metalists. It’s a curiosity, mostly, but metal guys would be served to take a listen for historical purposes.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had recorded an entire concept album that was put on the back burner by Capitol Records for later release. It didn’t get released until 2001.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B-: There’s something here, something compelling, that keeps me listening. Also, the cover is great.