Tag: 1972

Dust – Hard Attack / Dust

ARTIST: Dust

TITLE: Hard Attack / Dust

YEAR RELEASED: 1972 / 1971

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: Stone Woman

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Suicide shows up on hard rock playlists.

LINEUP: Richie Wise, Kenny Aaronson, Mark Bell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Long lost power trio’s two albums are rereleased 40+ years after the fact and gather interest as proto-metal influencers.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dust probably wasn’t going to make it. The label they were on (Kama Sutra) was more of a pop record company. Their sound (heavy but with some acoustic flourishes, country influences and strings on a few numbers) was ahead and behind the times – too early for metal and too late for heavy psychedelic rock. They also were quite minimalist despite the underpinning of acoustic guitar and said strings on a few cuts.

Listening to these two records now (somehow they decided to put their second record first on the collection) you get the sense that Dust had an idea where they wanted to go, but no one knew what to do with them. They were even more bare-bones than Black Sabbath at times, with Kenny Aaronson’s bass and Mark Bell’s drums holding court while Richie Wise riffed and soloed. Wise’s lyrics also seemed a bit dark (especially in “Suicide”, which seems to out-do “DOA” by Bloodrock in the macabre) though Aaronson wrote “Learning to Die”, which was also pretty damn dark too.

The choice of putting album two ahead of album one seems to make one think Dust went through a regression. It was the opposite – they tried more stuff on record two instead of full-on power trio noise.

Dust broke up after their second album with Wise wanted to go into production work, leaving an uncertain future behind him. Forty years later, you can hear the dots connecting between Blue Cheer, Sabbath, Deep Purple, and then to Dust, and beyond…

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Wise produced the early Kiss albums. Bell became Marky Ramone. You know him. Aaronson became a session bassist / fill in / supergroup member with a great reputation.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. These two albums in one CD is it. You can’t really find live film of Dust out there.

GRADE: B+: This shows that even records that are seemingly cast aside by record companies and critics can have their moments in the sun.

Blue Oyster Cult – Blue Oyster Cult

ARTIST: Blue Oyster Cult   

TITLE: Blue Oyster Cult

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION:  #172

SINGLES : Cities on Flame with Rock & Roll.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not as such,

LINEUP: Eric Bloom, Albert Bouchard, Joe Bouchard, Allen Lanier, Donald Roeser (Buck Dharma).

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Having recorded demos as Soft White Underbelly, Oaxaca, and the Stalk-Forrest Group, BOC finally gets signed and comes out with a record that has hard rock chops and an intelligent and dense lyrical view.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Having been signed and recorded for two labels, and going through three names (at least) before finally getting something widely released. Blue Oyster Cult’s debut album showcased their intriguing blend of hard rock, musicianship, and lyrical intelligence.

Some of the tracks didn’t quite bend themselves into the lyrics put forth by the band and their outside lyricists (like Sandy Pearlman, Harry Farcas, and Richard Meltzer, among others). As you can see by the titles (“Transmaniacon MC”, She’s as Beautiful as a Foot”, “Workshop of the Telescopes”), they were going for more of a lyrical obliqueness, which kind of suppressed their sing-a-long ability. Not that they were really aiming for that.

The guitar playing is solid, as are the arrangements. The production seems thin, as you really wish they cranked it up a bit. The power is diminished for the songs with major riffs. It may be why this didn’t quite hit in the hard rock community at the time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A lot of the songs have personal stories behind them, as odd as they were titled and written.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some songs from their 1969 studio foray.

GRADE B:  A good debut that set the stage for them. The production holds this back a bit, though.   

Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds

ARTIST: Pink Floyd 220px-Pink_Floyd_-_Obscured_by_Clouds

TITLE: Obscured By Clouds

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION:  #46 US, #6 UK

SINGLES: Free Four

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You’re getting into deep deep cut Floyd here

LINEUP: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pink Floyd interrupts some sessions to complete this soundtrack to a French art-house movie. It hangs together pretty well despite it all.

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The director of More, Barbet Schroeder, had asked Pink Floyd to record the soundtrack for his next project. When he was ready for that, the band had moved on to start sessions for what became Dark Side of the Moon, but they stopped work in order to record some tracks for the movie La Vallee.

The result was an album that cohered much better than their other soundtrack work, and was made-up of rather concise songs that worked well for the film, but also was an album that worked as a separate piece (unlike their other soundtracks). While not as sonically adventurous or groundbreaking as their past work and work to come, they did use some new toys like a VCS3 synthesizer

It was a rush job from concept to completion, but only a couple of tracks are filler or just bland, and a few tracks, like the instrumental 1-2 to begin the record and “The Gold It’s in The…”, “Childhood’s End”, and “Wot’s…Uh the Deal?” need more recognition as songs in the upper echelon of their canon.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Childhood’s End” is the last song with lyrics by someone other than Roger Waters until the band splintered in the 80’s

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B: It has its charms and it’s good to just put on and chill for the most part.

Joe Walsh – Barnstorm

ARTIST: Joe Walsh 220px-Joe_Walsh_-_Barnstorm

TITLE: Barnstorm

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #79

SINGLES: I’ll Tell the World About You

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mother Says, Turn to Stone

LINEUP: Joe Walsh, Kenny Passarelli, Joe Vitale. Help from Pau; Harris, Al Perkins, Chuck Rainey and Bill Szymcyk.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Known as a guitar hero, Joe Walsh’s first project after leaving the James Gang is really a band (called Barnstorm) and explores some of the folkier and spacier aspects of his music.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you listened closely to the deep cuts on James Gang albums, you know that Joe Walsh wasn’t always a headstrong guitar hero. He explored textures and tones using synths and acoustic guitars as well as electric guitar and bass. It’s this motif that he focuses on with Barnstorm, his new trio, and his ‘solo’ debut album.

Walsh played a lot of the synthesizers himself, and drummer Joe Vitale also helped on keyboards and flute, while Kenny Passarelli held things down on the bottom. That versatility in the studio allowed for the tracks to be filled with interesting flourishes and excursions (especially on “One and One / Giant Bohemoth”. The songs were also not as raucous, with tracks like “Here We Go” and “Birdcall Morning” settling for mood instead of pyrotechnics.

This album didn’t have a hit, and one track (“Turn to Stone”) was remade two years later. Walsh fans really need to find this one as it reveals a lot about what Walsh wanted in his early solo career and what he was capable of.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He really wanted the record to just have the artist listed as Barnstorm, but ABC Records decided to add Walsh’s name to it. This lead to the trio’s demise after their second album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A: A great record that was hard to find for many years and thus a lot of the songs disappeared from consciousness.

Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick

ARTIST: Jethro Tull                                                 220px-DirkvdM_thick_as_a_brick

TITLE: Thick as a Brick

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: None (for a good reason)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The opening part of the opening part (“Really Don’t Mind”) has been on comps, and last part of part three (“From the Upper Class”) has been on the radio.

LINEUP: Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, John Evan, Jeffery Hammond-Hammond, Barriemore Barlow

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The record where Jethro Tull says, “You want a concept album? HERE!”

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After denying that Aqualung was a concept album, Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull gave the wankers who claimed that it was what they wanted, a freakin’ concept album with two tracks – and only two tracks (though split into four distinct sections each with interludes).

The story is long (of course, it’s a nearly 44 minute album) and really, the story isn’t what it’s all about in my ears. The lyrics fall into normal Tull-dom with pronouncements and platitudes. What’s impressive, especially on the first side, is the playing. Tull really pulls out the stops on the first part, transitioning to each part seamlessly (also good work from the engineer), and Martin Barre and John Evan shine on guitar and keyboard.

The second side kind of falls flat with some spoken fragments intermixed and the last parts don’t have the same verve and pep that keeps a listener engaged. But it’s a damn audacious record and it works for the most part, and holds up.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original cover opened up as a 12-page newspaper.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Versions with a live track (only 11 minutes!), remixes, and one version that splits the saga into eight parts.

 GRADE A-: An A+ side, and a B side….really. The B-side is a B!

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.