I gotta be honest. It’s been a rough past couple of days, and today’s not starting off great either. I’ve been experiencing horrible lower back spasms that extend down into my buttocks and even my legs. Now, I have the spasms every day, but they normally don’t knock me down. Unfortunately, there is no rhyme or reason to them as far as severity. They could be aggravated by a sudden movement, sleeping wrong, excessive heat, even back massages have aggravated them. For some reason, even though my spine is supposedly structurally sound, my back muscles will not quit attempting to keep my spine straight. I’ve tried every muscle relaxer and treatment possible, and still I get no relief. Seriously, what can you say about a guy’s back who got Botox injections into the trigger points of those spasms in an effort to relax the spots that lead to the spasms only to suffer WORSE spasms that before? And, the same results happened with trigger point injections of steroids, painkillers and other muscle relaxers.
So, I apologize ahead of time if my entries are not as insightful, if they ever have been, as before. I’m simply hoping for clarity and coherence while writing today. So, buckle up! This could be a roller coaster ride of a read. This is rock blogging on muscle relaxers. At least keyboards don’t trail off as handwriting can.
Slade – Slayed? (1972). Yet another entry from the UK Glam scene, Slade was the next step in the development of the American scene in NYC with Kiss and the New York Dolls arriving shortly afterwards. Slade never really made a dent here in the States until their early-Eighties resurrection thanks to Quiet Riot’s remake of their “Cum on Feel the Noize.” This album is stuffed full of stuff that the Hollywood Strip Hair Metal bands would cover, especially “Mama Weer All Crazee Now.” Don’t let the phonetic spellings of their titles fool you, this is a great band with their best album.
Steely Dan – Can’t Buy a Thrill (1972). Steely Dan’s main songwriting duo, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, are two meticulous studio craftsmen who showed this tendency on their debut album. You can hear the precise arrangements, the impeccable playing and the complex influences of jazz, rock and R&B being melded into a completely new sound. “Do It Again” and “Dirty Work” are terrific songs, but we ALL know the guitar riff to “Reelin’ in the Years,” one of the all-time great riffs of rock music.
Stevie Wonder – Talking Book (1972). This album begins the maturation of Stevie Wonder into the musical genius he had been touted since his debut album. But, now, Stevie was ready to speak his mind about social issues just like Marvin Gaye. The man wrote and recorded “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” before opening for The Rolling Stones on their American tour. And, as great as this album is, the best is yet to come.
The Allman Brothers Band – Eat a Peach (1972). This album did not begin this way, but it ended up being a loving tribute to the recently departed guitarist Duane Allman. You can hear his greatness on the tracks he recorded before his untimely death, in addition to the live cuts that were added, such as the 33-minute jam “Mountain Jam.” You can hear the beginnings of the more mellow leanings the band would take as Dickey Betts began to assert himself in a leadership role with the exquisite “Melissa.”
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will the Circle Be Unbroken (1972). The teaming of a group of Southern California long-hairs and old time real country music pickers might appear a clash of cultures on paper. But, this amalgamation worked because all involved knew what was in the hearts of each other. This just might be the finest country rock album of them all, as the band and players blast through many of the standards those originals wrote. And, the Dirt Band’s originals fit the mood perfectly. This may be the first time when both country and rock purists were commercially satisfied with the outcome.
The O’Jays – Back Stabbers (1972). This album represents the moment when The O’Jays went from soul and R&B journeymen to Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. The trio asserted their mastery of Seventies soul with keen observations of the society around them. Of course, the title song is immortal. Although their brilliantly positive anthem “Love Train” has been reduced to a beer commercial song, the song remains a landmark song, no matter how many Silver Bullets (and not Bob Seger’s, either) it may have sold.
The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972). The recording of this album is legendary for its debauchery and excess. And, The Stones have never got in the way of a good story to aid their lore. And, this album is terrific, although I tend to believe this album is more appreciated for the stories associated with its creation than the actual music, how ever good it is. And, it is excellent. But, I still prefer Sticky Fingers.
Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything? (1972). The Renaissance man of rock music unleashed this monster double album on an unsuspecting population and garnered the biggest commercial windfall of his career for his solo work. Then, he backed away for a more artistically fulfilling career. Still, this album remains a testament to the depth and breadth of his talent as a singer/songwriter/producer/musician. “I Saw the Light,” “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference,” “Couldn’t I Just Tell You,” and “Hello It’s Me” are all on here.
Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972). Not exactly album held together by a theme as his previous albums all were, Saint Dominic’s Preview remains a joyous celebration of life through Morrison’s unique blend of rock, R&B and Celtic mysticism. The highlight happens to be my favorite Van Morrison song of all time, “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile).”
Various Artists – Nuggets: Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 (1972). Future Patti Smith guitarist and at the time rock critic Lenny Kaye put this compilation together, and the album ended up becoming ground zero for the whole punk/new wave movement of the Seventies. The original double album set contained hits by forgotten American garage bands like the Electric Prunes (“I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night”), The Standells (“Dirty Water”) and The Count Five (“Psychotic Reaction”), but unfortunate misses by the likes of The Chocolate Watchband (“Let’s Talk About Girls”) and Mouse (“A Public Execution”). This album spawned five essential four-CD box sets during the Nineties and the Aughts.
War – The World Is a Ghetto (1972). War still has not gotten its due as one of the greatest funk/rock bands of all time. This multi-racial band set the standard for musicianship and social commentary that ranks up there with the works of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament/Funkadelic and Curtis Mayfield. This is sophisticated work by musicians at their creative peak. The title song and “The Cisco Kid” were the big hits here.
Next time, we are on to 1973!