1972: Revising History One Album At A Time, Pt. 2

Rob O'Connor
List Of The Day (NEW)

Just as Part I focused on many obvious releases from the year 1972, Part II includes many "important" releases along with some that have become somewhat notorious in recent years.

25) T. Rex -- The Slider: Marc Bolan hasn't quite had the staying power of other performers of the glam rock era. Radio once decided that only "Bang A Gong (Get It On)" was worthy of repeating, but folks who bother to look further will find a rocker who was actually quite pleasant. Or maybe I'm just all about "Spaceball Ricochet" more than other people.

24) Yes -- Fragile, Close To The Edge: It was Vincent Gallo's use of early Yes music in his film Buffalo 66 that brought new life to a band for whom time has not been kind to their reputation. However, given a chance, everything up to the "Green Album" (Close to the Edge) has something to it that should allow you to forgive Jon Anderson his cherubic vocals. Steve Howe meant business.

23) Roxy Music -- Roxy Music: Clearly this should be ranked further up, but I don't wish to dislodge anyone. Andy Mackay's sax work strays from your usual R'n'R honking and Phil Manzanera's guitaring has fits of its own. Throw up Brian Eno's tinkerings and Bryan Ferry's movie-star quality good looks and vocals and you've got a band that went places previously unseen in the brochures. Daddy, why are these men so pretty?

22) Bill Withers -- Still Bill: Long before Lenny Kravitz gaudy-ed up the songs, the unassuming Bill Withers did it right with a low-key sincerity that made him a major understated talent. "Lean On Me" should probably be retired from public performance, but "Use Me" and "Who Is He (And What Is He To You?)" have yet to be fully drained of their truth.

21) Loudon Wainwright III -- Album III: Wainwright's young and cheeky here and his personal albatross, "Dead Skunk," tilted the scales in ways that defy logic. He wasn't sleepwalking through the rest of it and he actually got much better as the years rolled on. I think he peaked at 60.

20) Green Bullfrog -- Green Bullfrog: Contractual snafus made things difficult for this band of young heavies to assemble in public. Said to feature Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, Matthew Fisher, Albert Lee, Rod Alexander, Tony Ashton, Big Jim Sullivan and Chas Hodges, the album was said to have been recorded in one day in 1970 and released two years later.

19) David Ackles -- American Gothic: American Gothic is considered to be Ackles' unsung-masterpiece-in-plain-sight, but that's being a bit unfair to his other works. He never caught on in a big way, but other singer-songwriters noticed and he's dead now, so whatever you decide to do with his legacy is up to you. I'd vote hard for his rediscovery. Why not?

18) Aretha Franklin -- Young, Gifted and Black, Amazing Grace: People may be losing their religion, but they've never lost their spiritual thirst and Amazing Grace is the Tang! of gospel music albums! Recorded live at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, it features the only version of the title track that should ever be allowed to be played anymore!

17) Townes Van Zandt -- High, Low and In Between, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt: In the early years of his career, Townes Van Zandt was recording and releasing albums at a decent clip. He was still writing the songs he would play for the rest of his doomed life. Production values were questionable in spots and just about everyone considers the live album, Live at The Old Quarter, to be the best look at his work, alone with a guitar.

16) Lou Reed -- Lou Reed, Transformer: Reed struggled to find his sound as a solo performer. He had the voice down, but arrangements were something else. He still had some leftovers from his Velvets days and he lucked out with "Walk On the Wild Side," which still sounds as eerie and unusual forty years onward.

15) Amon Duul II -- Carnival In Babylon, Wolf City: Let's not kid ourselves. Amon Duul II have experienced most of their legend in retrospect. Their music was not easily accessible -- and I mean that in both in terms of the listening experience and the purchasing one. You might even hate this music if you had to pay $25 to hear it. But these days when Spotify is just a click away, click away, click away...

14) Funkadelic -- America Eats Its Young: One of the things you'll notice about this list is how many of the artists listed were not commercially super-successful at the time. It's why the bean counters that run major music labels today have no chance at building anything. Quick bucks are fine, but they're not everything. Anyone think people will be shelling out for a 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of a Carly Rae Jespen album? No more than people are hungering for a Lobo box set.

13) Black Sabbath -- Vol. 4: Breaking out of their primary powerchords and bumping into the piano and writing songs with enough parts to confuse the average stoner, Sabbath moved into Phase II. Early critics took personal offense to their rudimentary ways and while "Changes" might be a mite too corny for anyone but the dedicated, surely "The Straightener" is worth the guitar solo.

12) The Allman Brothers Band -- Eat A Peach: Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident during the creation of this record and is only featured on three studio cuts. His passing may explain the importance of featuring two album sides of "Mountain Jam," where the band turns Donovan's ingenious "There Is A Mountain" into 33 minutes of further Fillmore East jamming. Why on earth did drummers get solos?

11) Captain Beefheart -- The Spotlight Kid, Clear Spot: While the good Captain is known for his more outrageous work, these two represent a decent compromise between his 'no-mama-heartbeat' avant-work and the too-conventional albums that immediately followed. How do you break a madman on a wheel?

10) Paul Simon -- Paul Simon: While Garfunkel had an angelic voice, he forced Simon to write with that voice in mind. Here, Simon could be as personal and/or as small as he wanted and not feel like he was putting anyone out of work. Sometimes it's the little things.

9) Colin Blunstone -- Ennismore: His career never seemed to gather the momentum necessary to keep him fully appreciated during his prime working years, but what he did leave us in the early 1970s should never be overlooked. That voice!

8) Fleetwood Mac -- Bare Trees: I would love to see the confused look on the faces of present day Fleetwood Mac fans upon receiving this album for Christmas. Where's Stevie?

7) Neil Young -- Harvest: Each Neil Young album stakes out its own territory. He was as much a product of the times as he directed them. Mellow Neil happened. Usually it was with more decadence, but people are easily scared away. Sometimes you lend them a hand.

6) Can -- Ege Bamyasi: America may have been having hits in 1972, but it's Germany's Can who still excite the hearts of alternative rockers to this day. Just admit it: Yes, we CAN!

5) Ash Ra Tempel -- Schwingungen: The second album from yet another German group whose popularity power in the U.S. in 1972 couldn't light a flashlight, Shwingungen sounds so remarkably good forty years later that it makes you wonder how certain musicians were able to run so far ahead of their contemporaries. Was there a designated lane on their highway? Or was it just the magic of the Autobahn?

4) Deep Purple -- Machine Head, Made in Japan: Inexplicably the leg of the heavy metal chair that's been removed, Deep Purple were every bit as important to the development of the hard and the heavy as the Led Zeppelin and the Black Sabbath (to say nothing of the Blue Cheer, the Uriah Heep…) and if you're going to own one of their albums from the 1970, it should be these two.

3) Joni Mitchell -- For The Roses: On even-numbered days, I prefer this over Blue. Mitchell hadn't yet gone jazz or lost the top end off her voice, but she was doing some a-wanderin' from her folkie roots and that piano was doing wonders for her. The single "You Turn Me On I'm A Radio" could be dumped, though it was her first top 40 hit. I guess art doesn't always pay the bills, but hooks do.

2) Steely Dan -- Can't Buy A Thrill: No one knew where Steely Dan would go from here. But it's already pretty obvious that it isn't where most of the kids had been playing. Fagen wasn't even totally convinced -- or his label wasn't -- that he could carry an entire album with that voice. It still sounds like the weirdest thing on Classic Rock radio.

1) Al Green -- Let's Stay Together,  I'm Still In Love With You: With a voice lighter than air, Green took a gentler tact than most soul singers. If you're too young for this stuff, maybe it'll help if I say he was sorta like Warren G was to Chuck D. And since that reference is nearing 20 years old, I'll try this: TYPE 'AL GREEN' into Spotify and STOP PLAYING WITH YOUR PHONE!