*Image above taken from the internet and likely copyrighted
I’ve spent the last week exploring and really reveling in the music of 1972. You might say I’ve been having my own private “celebration” of 1972. Now before you start to think I’m an octogenarian or I’m Connor MacLeod from the movie Highlander – an immortal warrior born in the 1300s, living in the shadows while occasionally dueling other immortals who are attempting to decapitate me – fear not, I’m not that old. Although, admittedly I wish I were the Highlander. No, in 1972 I was alive but I was as Tom Petty once sang, “a boy in short pants.” I was barely in grade school. So this might beg the question, “Why 1972?”
Now that the calendar has rolled to 2022 it’s been 50 years since 1972 and a 50th anniversary is always worth celebrating. So far 2022 has been a nightmare for me, the sum of all fears, so I need some musical distraction… Last year I started reading all of this stuff on how 1971 was a landmark year for music. Many articles I read contended that ’71 was the greatest year ever for rock n roll. I’m not sure about that, but last year when I researched 1971, I was stunned at how amazing the music is that was released that year. It truly was the landmark year that everybody was raving about. I ended up doing one of my playlists (Playlist, We Look Back 50 Years to: 1971 ) and it was groovy! I’ve always thought, since I was in college that the music of the 60s and 70s was just inherently better. In the 80s while people were listening to Motley Crue (who I now love) or Madonna (who I still don’t like) I was ignoring them and listening to the Stones and Crosby, Stills, Nash &/or Young. It’s like I was made to write about music that came out 50 years ago… Maybe I’ve just always been an outcast.
Since I was late to the party on 1971, I figured I’d get in on the 1972 celebration early this year and publish my playlist in honor of that year now. I’ll be the first to admit that 1972 was no 1971. It was not a landmark year for music in the same way. Many big acts like Led Zeppelin, The Who and Paul McCartney (by then with Wings) decided not to release any new music in ’72. All of that said, it was still a kick ass year for rock n roll. I think ’72 was the year the era we now define as the “Seventies” finally truly began. I’ve never subscribed to the idea that music changes or shifts with the passing of a calendar year ending in “9” to a year ending in a “0” ie, 1969 to 1970. Culture shifts at it’s own pace. But it’s hard not to say that the 60s, hippy vibe ended in 1972 and the 70s began in earnest.
A lot of it had to do with, in my opinion, the re election of Nixon. When the hippies couldn’t vote that thug out of office they retreated to communes in the woods or went to work in jobs at insurance companies. It was no longer “save the world,” it was “save yourself.” They did both the Winter and Summer Olympics in the same year back then and even something as awesome as the ’72 Olympics was marred by the Munich Massacre. I was a kid but even I remember seeing those images on TV. Ireland was in the midst of “The Troubles.” The reactionary forces swept back into power. Musically, the Beatles had broken up, the Stones had gone into tax exile, CSNY had all retreated into their won corners. Hendrix, Janis and Jim Morrison were dead. The Sixties didn’t so much end as they were snuffed out.
In 1972, when compared to 1971 we do see the seeds of the next decade sprout. We see great debut albums from huge acts like Steely Dan, Eagles, Jackson Browne and Big Star. We see solo debuts from stars we’d known before like Paul Simon, Peter Frampton, and Lou Reed (who released 2 LPs in 72). Soul music had one of it’s strongest years and that music is hopefully represented here by Stevie Wonder, Aretha, James Brown and Al Green amongst others. Some of my favorite music on this list is probably soul music. Linda Ronstadt finally found her voice. David Bowie, the Stones and Neil Young released their best LPs. Hell even Creedence breathed thier last breath… for all the Dudes out there. There’s so much great music to like from 1972.
In 72, as I mentioned I was just a kid. But I can clearly remember riding in the backseat of the car with my sainted mother driving around running errands. My dad bought her this hunter green Ford that broke down randomly at weird times. I can remember looking at my mom with her bouffant hair scraping the ceiling of the car like a real life Marge Simpson, watching her nervously drive and hoping the car would make it home. Often it would stall in traffic and the cops would have to drive us to the garage while the car was towed. But I remember she always had the AM radio turned on. My brother would crank it up. Many of the songs that I put on this list are culled from those memories. The music on this list is some of the first music I can remember hearing. And while I didn’t put any cheesy stuff from the Pure Prairie League or Loggins & Messina, I did put on some Jim Croce for mom and dad…he was the only artist my parents owned multiple LPs from.
I hope you enjoy this music as much as I did. As usual you can find this playlist on Spotify under the title, BourbonAndVinyl.net 1972, like all my other playlists. You can listen in order or shuffle these. If you’re like me you’ll suddenly feel like you’re in a polyester leisure suit with the silky shirt unbuttoned to your navel… My thoughts on each track are below.
- The Allman Brothers, Eat A Peach, “One Way Out” – The Allmans were mourning the loss of founder Duane Allman on this record and they included sensational live stuff along with studio stuff… a “hybrid live/studio album” if you will. I’ve always loved this live, old blues cover.
- Linda Ronstadt, Linda Ronstadt, “Rock Me On The Water” – There’s a saying in music that when an artist does an eponymous (self-titled) LP later in their career it’s a rebirth of sorts. Ronstadt’s career hadn’t really “birthed” yet so rebirth is generous. But this is where everything gelled. She kills this Jackson Browne cover with future members of the Eagles in the back up band. How did I not include on my list of critical third albums is a mystery. Sensational stuff.
- Paul Simon, Paul Simon, “Me And Julio Down By The School Yard” – Simon’s first solo LP, emerging from the embers of Simon and Garfunkel. You can hear the world music influences that really took over years later on Graceland already present in his music.
- Aretha Franklin, Young, Gifted And Black, “Border Song (Holy Moses)” – I probably should have gone with the title track but I couldn’t resist the Queen of Soul covering Elton. There was always a gospel-vibe in John’s music but Aretha takes us to church. Goosebumps!
- Al Green, Lets Stay Together, “Lets Stay Together” – Did the Reverend Al ever do a sad song? The title track here is one of his greatest. He actually did 2 LPs in 1972, both represented here.
- Jackson Browne, Jackson Browne (aka Saturate Before Use), “Doctor My Eyes” – From his sensational debut. No wonder Ronstadt covered him (see #2).
- Dave Edmunds, Rockpile, “I Hear You Knockin'” – This song is timeless, I thought it came out a decade later than this. Classic.
- Neil Young, Harvest, “Old Man” – Neil’s masterpiece LP. I could have picked any track on here but this one is the Rock Chick’s favorite.
- Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything?, “Hello It’s Me” – I only recently bought this record despite Arkansas Joel telling me I needed to 30 years ago. He was, as usual, right.
- Elvis Presley, Elvis Now!, “Help Me Make It Through The Night” – The King was trapped in Las Vegas and his soul was slowly dying, but every now and then he’d step to the mic and remember who he was and belt out a winner.
- Stevie Wonder, Music Of My Mind, “I Love Everything About You” – From the first of two sensational LPs from Wonder in 72 that signal the beginning of his greatest era. It sorta sums up how I feel about the Rock Chick…
- Deep Purple, Machine Head, “Highway Star” – Zeppelin may not have released anything in 1972, but hard rock is well represented. I could have gone with “Smoke On The Water,” but wouldn’t that have been cliche?
- Humble Pie, Smokin’, “30 Days In The Hole” – My hand to god, I thought it was a woman lead singer when I first heard this song. Humble Pie’s first LP after Peter Frampton (#24) departed for solo pastures.
- ZZ Top, Rio Grande Mud, “Just Got Paid” – Early ZZ is some of my favorite ZZ. My buddy Stormin’ just texted me last week to extol the virtues of their first LP… this one is from their second.
- Graham Nash/David Crosby, Graham Nash & David Crosby, “Southbound Train” – CSNY had split into different directions. Stills was off with Manassas, Young was creating a masterpiece, so Nash and Crosby teamed up for this great album. I chose this track because, well, I love songs about trains, but who doesn’t?
- Fleetwood Mac, Bare Trees, “Sentimental Lady” – From the pre-Buckingham/Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac. Bob Welch, who wrote it and sang it, had a bigger hit when he redid as a solo song.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mardis Gras, “Sweet Hitchhiker” – Great song from their last gasp…
- Dr. John, Dr. John’s Gumbo, “Iko Iko” – I’ve only recently dove into the depths of the Night Tripper’s catalog. I felt this playlist needed a little “flavor.”
- Arlo Guthrie, Hobo’s Lullaby, “City of New Orleans” – Another classic from Woody’s son. I can close my eyes when I hear this one and I’m in the backseat of the green Ford.
- Stephen Stills, Manassas, “Johnny’s Garden” – Classic track from a great double-LP. I just found this on vinyl in a used record store in North KC. Only vinyl could draw me up there.
- Jim Croce, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)” – Ok, call me sentimental but my parents owned this record and I remember sitting my our tiny living room listening to this album. Dad loved this guy.
- The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main Street, “Tumbling Dice” – The greatest Stones LP. I am terribly fond of double-LPs.
- Elton John, Honky Chateau, “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time) – I remember hearing this song for the first time, not on the radio, but at the Smithsonian in the Space Exhibit.
- Peter Frampton, Winds Of Change, “Jumping Jack Flash” – One of my favorite Stones’ covers from Frampton’s criminally overlooked solo debut.
- Randy Newman, Sail Away, “Sail Away” – Randy Newman is the greatest American satirist since Twain.
- Bill Withers, Still Bill, “Use Me” – One of my favorite of Withers. He was just so great. Truly missed. This track was also covered by Mick Jagger with Lenny Kravitz.
- Little Feat, Sailin’ Shoes, “Sailin’ Shoes” – I think the cover art for this, their second album, was censored in the south… Great song. “Put on your sailin’ shoes…”
- Eagles, Eagles, “Take It Easy” – Co-written by Jackson Browne who seems to be the King of 1972. This is where it all started for these country rockers…
- Looking Glass, Looking Glass, “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” – Call me cheesy for including this but It’s another song I can remember sitting in the back of mom’s crappy Ford, listening to this on the radio. The Chili Peppers covered it on a live album, so I feel like my credibility is in tact.
- David Bowie, The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, “Suffragette City” – One of the few Bowie tracks that got play in KC… Bowie. Ziggy. Enough said.
- John Lennon, Sometime In New York City, “New York City” – Great, Chuck Berry-style track from a terrible album.
- Jethro Tull, Living In The Past, “Living In the Past” – I’ve always dug this tune. I should be deeper into Jethro Tull.
- Leon Russell, Carney, “Tight Rope” – Leon should have been way bigger than he was…
- Free, Free At Last, “Little Bit Of Love” – Great band I came to late in the game. Like most Americans. If you dig Bad Company, you should check out Free.
- Big Star, #1 Record, “Don’t Lie To Me” – Great band I’m embarrassed to admit I discovered on a Showtime TV show…
- Alice Cooper, School’s Out, “School’s Out” – Is there a student of public education who doesn’t know this song?
- The Doobie Brothers, Toulouse Street, “Listen To the Music” – My friend from Indy Big Dave always said he couldn’t get into the Doobies. Listen to this album Big Dave, listen to the music!
- Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come, “The Harder They Come” – One of the all time greatest reggae tracks.
- Rod Stewart, Never A Dull Moment, “You Wear It Well” – From my absolute favorite Rod LP. My roommates and I used to crank this up in our apartment until the neighbors would complain.
- T. Rex, The Slider, “Metal Guru” – I was late to the T. Rex party but man I dig this crazy, glam rocker.
- The Temptations, Flying High Together, “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” – Such a great, great song. The Temps were simply sublime.
- Foghat, Foghat, “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” – I saw Foghat open for Triumph once, great show. From their debut, they take an old blues tune and turn it up to 11. The live version is probably more famous, but I like this version as much.
- The Kinks, Everybody’s In Show-Biz, “Celluoid Heroes” – Great song about Hollywood. I first heard the live version, which is probably definitive.
- Van Morrison, Saint Dominc’s Preview, “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)” – A short burst of soul on an album dominated by long, beautiful, evocative tracks.
- Curtis Mayfield, Superfly, “Freddie’s Dead” – This is such a stupendous record and I don’t know why I don’t hear about it more. I could have picked any track but this one hits me hardest.
- Bob Seger, Smokin’ O.P.s, “Let It Rock” – I chose this Chuck Berry song from one of my favorite “cover albums” because Bob seemed to uphold that Berry ethos better than almost anybody.
- Black Sabbath, Vol. 4, “Changes” – Yeah, I chose the lone Sabbath ballad, but it’s awesome. I had a guy I worked with say to me one time, “What would have happened if “Changes” had been a hit? It would have ruined Sabbath?” Um, who knows dude?
- Bonnie Raitt, Give It Up, “Love Me Like A Man” – I wish I could accurately describe how much I love early, bluesy Bonnie Raitt.
- Al Green, I’m Still In Love With You, “Love And Happiness” – No Al, I’m still in love with you! From his second knock-out album in less than 12 months. Imagine that happening today?!?
- Stevie Wonder, Talking Book, “Superstition” – My favorite track by Wonder. Saw my sister-in-law’s country band butcher this one night in a tavern. Sigh. Another guy who did 2 albums in 1972, Stevie at his zenith.
- Joe Walsh, Barnstorm, “Turn To Stone” – This is the all-time greatest guitar riff of all time. I’ll fist fight anybody who argues, and I’m lover not a fighter. I’ve heard this riff in my head for years even before I knew where it came from.
- Stealers Wheel, Stealers Wheel, “Stuck In The Middle With You” – Yes, the lead singer of Stealers Wheel was Gerry Rafferty. I believe this song is universally loved. It is here at the house.
- Pete Townshend, Who Came First, “Pure And Easy” – The Who did this later as a band but I’ve always dug this solo version from Pete. His demos were always fully fleshed out.
- James Taylor, One Man Dog, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” – One of Taylor’s greatest tracks. Not a great album, admittedly.
- Joni Mitchell, For The Roses, “You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio” – I’ll admit I’m not a huge Mitchell fan, but I’ve always dug this album written in the wake of her heartbreak over James Taylor’s leaving her for Carly Simon. Torn from the tabloid headlines.
- Lou Reed, Transformer, “Walk On The Wild Side” – Produced by Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson, its Reed’s best known LP. Reed always said he didn’t remember much about recording it.
- Marvin Gaye, Trouble Man, “Trouble Man” – From a soundtrack… Great song but I’d hoped for more from the follow up of What’s Goin’ On.
- James Brown, Get On The Good Foot, “Cold Sweat” – The dawn of the 70s didn’t phase Soul Brother Number One. He delivers on this album.
- Steely Dan, Can’t Buy A Thrill, “Reelin’ In The Years” – One of their most recognizable tracks from one of the greatest debut LPs of all time...
- The Edgar Winter Group, They Only Come Out At Night, “Free Ride” – One of Winter’s biggest tunes and judging from his lack of tan, perhaps he only did come out at night.
- War, The World Is A Ghetto, “Cisco Kid” – I can still remember this song from when I was a small child. It was just one of those tracks that stick with you…
There it is folks. Turn this one up loud and like the Cisco Kid and Pancho, “drink the wine.” If there’s a song or an album I missed, slip it into the comment section and I’ll add it to the Spotify playlist. These playlists I do, in an attempt to bring people songs/music they might have missed are really “our” playlists, not “my” playlists… they are a dialogue between music fans, much like B&V itself.
I’ve had a disaster of a year so far, so it can only get better. Hope this music helps you get a little further down the road toward the good times. Cheers!