Where Were You in ’72?

19 Jul

1972. It was the year of Watergate, the year of the Munich Massacre at the Summer Olympics, and the year I turned the respectable age of 2. It was also an awesome year for rock ‘n’ roll: THE STONES’ gave us their most naturalistic LP ever, Exile On Main St.; BLUE ÖYSTER CULT and CAPTAIN BEYOND’s first records succeeding in spinning heads wherever they were heard; and ALICE COOPER’s School’s Out and BOWIE’s Ziggy Stardust gave us dudes the right to sulk in eyeliner, forever more. Creem magazine acknowledges it, glam freaks give it props, and even lost 90’s alterno-rock webcritic Piero Scaruffi recognizes it’s importance to the evolution of Kraut Rock. And 1972 was it.

So I’m gonna talk about a few recordings you might not bother with but from that year, but that I do and frequently. Starting with:

516ACR47CNL._SS500_CARGOE – “Come Down” (from Live In Memphis!, Lucky 7 Records, 2004) The best band Oklahoma ever gave the world, and hardly anyone knows about em. Stop bringing power pop/BIG STAR chat to the table when talking about these guys! Yes they put out a great Terry Manning-produced LP on Memphis-based Ardent Records in 1972, the same year as BIG STAR’s #1 Record. And yes they could layer sweet vocal harmonies behind soaring melodies in MOVE-like fashion. But these guys weren’t from no cloying, pansy-ass school of whinypop – what CARGOE produced was organic, twin gtr rockin’ that could move from boldly flowing, ALLMANesque hippy jamming to tight, EDGAR WINTER Texas BBQ boog in a blink of an eye. And while there is some sort of a Christian lyrical thing at work here, they rock without any Dixie flagwaving and gracefully deliver a sound that speaks of years of collective experience. Their enigmatic Ardent LP was more intricately produced but this live set from 1972 reveals a power only hinted at on their studio stuff. Listening to this now so makes me wanna get stoned, kick off my shoes, and go running around the soft, rolling hills outside Tulsa.

rhodesemitt-recordingEMITT RHODES – “Tame The Lion” (from The Emitt Rhodes Recordings, 1969 – 1973, Hip-O Select, 2009) Speaking of whinypop . . . ok ok so what if Emitt sounded like Paul M. and THE BEATLES? He couldn’t help it. Thankfully there’s none of that hokey “Yellow Submarine” humor here to gum up the works. Emitt took total responsibility for everything within his grasp: the writing, the playing, the producing, even the engineering, creating a hermetically-sealed world of consistently beautiful, otherworldly gorgeous pop. Unfortunately, there were factors outside his grasp – promotion, legal contracts, label pressure, lawsuits, etc. – that effectively sledgehammered his world in ’73 or therabouts.

Ahh but we’ll always have Emitt ca. ’69 – ’73! This set collects it all: 2 discs, 48 cuts, 4 albums + stray b-side, and barely a dud among em. From his early work with THE MERRY-GO-ROUND in a lush, baroque ZOMBIES/LEFT BANKE vein, through his rightfully acknowledged first album highwater mark, and on to his later jazzy singer-songwritery stuff that wouldn’t’ve sounded out of place reworked by the mid-late 70’s Electra/Asylum stable, ya can’t help but wonder why at least a couple dozen of these songs aren’t more well known today. “Tame the Lion” is a personal fave, his non album anti-war single from ’72. Hawthorne, CA really oughta be calling this guy – not them overrated Wilson bros. – their No. 1 son.

200px-WhiteWitchFirstLPWHITE WITCH – “Parabrahm Greeting/Dwellers of the Threshold” (From White Witch, Capricorn Records, 1972) That WHITE WITCH aren’t remembered more fondly today is one of those unfortunate, fucked-up accidents of history. They wrote great pop songs, swung convincingly between light ‘n’ sweet balladry and tough, hard rockin’, and had a singer with an expressive vocal range that any early 70’s band would’ve killed for. But although they wore theatrical face paint and had a name that suggested any manner of sinister, metaloid alliances, WHITE WITCH didn’t gender-bend enough to be revered by glam fanatics and didn’t turn it up to 11 (or evoke the Black Mass) enough to be remembered fondly by younger, fringe subcultures.

I suspect these Floridans were just too diverse for their own good: they’d open with a histrionic CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN sounding number, segue through any number of pretty TODD RUNDGREN piano affairs, burp up some choice DEEP PURPLE and make you eat ALLMAN BROTHERS peaches all by the end of the evening. While I can dig it, I ain’t everyman. But hey that don’t stop me from wondering what kinda kinda crazy beautiful planet this’d be, if we could all appreciate such wide reach.

Joe_Walsh_-_BarnstormJOE WALSH – “Turn To Stone” (from Barnstorm, ABC/Dunhill Records, 1972) There’s a side to Barnstorm I don’t particularly like. It has something to do with Joe’s nasally, thin vocals, those Back Up The Country cliches he’s singing, and that casual confidence of his so common to big deal major label rocker types back then. So I can understand those who can’t deal with this corner of the 70’s. And yes, this did feed straight down the gaping maw that was THE EAGLES. But then . . . there’s that other stuff: the odd keyboard figures, the near John Bonham-esque drumming on a couple choice cuts, and oh man! all that furry distortion emanating from just about every instrument on this recording. The trippy thing is how Joe’s old JAMES GANG rock core remains buried beneath all the mellow West Coastisms. Yep this is actually really strange stuff, esp. that near-experimental use of gnarly gtr fuzz on a cut like “Turn To Stone”. It’s densely heavy in a way David Crosby’s first solo album wasn’t, hard rocking in a way Neil Young achieved on like every 3rd record or so, and spacier than both put together. We like, yes we do.

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