Sunday, June 4, 2023

McQ's Best Of 1972 Mix Collection

1972's #1 Album
1972.  The final year of the greatest seven-year stretch in rock 'n' roll history. 

A monster year that produced a endless stream of enduring classics - The Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, Neil Young's Harvest, Al Green's double whammy Let's Stay Together and I'm Still In Love With You, Lou Reed's Transformer, Steely Dan's Can't Buy A Thrill, Van Morrison's Saint Dominic's Preview, Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, Deep Purple's Machine Head, The O'Jay's Backstabbers, Curtis Mayfield's Superfly, Todd Rungren's Something/Anything, Neu!, T Rex's The Slider, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will The Circle Be Unbroken, and the most important reggae album of all time (at least in terms of popularizing the genre), the soundtrack to The Harder They Come - and this doesn't even count so many lesser recognized efforts that sound even better today than they did on the day of their release - Big Star's #1 Record, Bonnie Raitt, Mott The Hoople's All The Young Dudes, Randy Newman's Sail Away, Stephen Still's Manassas, Terry Callier's What Color Is Love, Dr. John's Gumbo, Slade's Slayed?, Faust's So Far, Nick Drake's Pink Moon, Rashaan Roland Kirk's Blacknuss - and on and on and on it goes.

1972's #2 Album
Any way you slice it, 1972, like 1966 - 1971 before, was a cornucopia of musical riches (see our still-in-progress ranking of the year's top albums here). But the end of this great musical stretch was just on the horizon, and that feeling is palpable in the year's music.  

A sense of exhaustion permeates all the genre's that had been the heavy lifting lyrical messengers in the turbulent, protest-dominated late 60s - country rock, folk rock, pop, blues and soul. It's as if most of English language music world needed a collective break from booze, drugs and fighting the man (though sex was still definitely on the table).

Emerging out of this hungover morass, the era's younger musical movements played the opposite hand, embracing the insubstantial and challenging nothing societal other than fashion. Whether it was the plastic rock stars and cross-dressing straights of glam, the wood-sprites-and-fairies-obsessed practitioners of prog, their "let's play evil" mirror opposites of heavy metal, or the nihilistic chaos engineers of Krautrock - '72s ascending genres seemed to have nary an interest in speaking to the struggles of everyday life or the issues of the day. 

1972's #3 Album
And while this sudden, dramatic shift to frivolity and bombastic expression sounded great in 1972, providing a much needed shot of adrenaline the wearying older styles could momentarily no longer provide, it would prove to be a devil's bargain, leading to a shifted, bloated, shallow musical landscape that would produce two of the lamest consecutive music years since the dawn of rock (1973-74) immediately after.

But that's a discussion for another time. 

Today, we celebrate rock's greatest run's amazing last gasp, collected here in eleven curated mixes.  Volume 1 touches on most of the year's best albums outside of the long-winded jazz, prog, and krautrock genres, and then the ten themed-mixes that follow dig deeper into all that Volume 1 left out.

So let's get started...

Iconic representative tracks from the majority of 1972's very best albums comprise the entirety of this three-hour kick-starting mix.

Volume 2 - The Glam Gang

The movement came and went in a flash, but there's no denying that in 1972, glam was the genre, and its thrills are captured here in all its make-up-donning glory with iconic tracks from David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Mott The Hoople, Slade, Elton John, Gary Glitter and T-Rex.  The best and most era-specific of this year's themed mixes.

Volume 3 - Land Ho! (Yacht Rock On The Horizon)

Lingering 60s folkies like Nick Drake, Paul Simon, Eric Andersen, David Ackles merge with top early 70s singer/songwriters like James Taylor, Randy Newman, Carly Simon, Towns Van Zandt, Jackson Browne, and Cat Stevens and rising soft-rockers like Van Morrison, Steely Dan, Chicago, Three Dog Night, Todd Rundgren, Looking Glass, Big Star, Bonnie Raitt, The Eagles and Bread to produce a vibe that decades later would come to be known as the yacht rock sound.

Volume 4 - Jammy Jazz

1972 was a super year for guitar-and-funk-oriented jazz, and a number of significant tracks - whether from jazz traditionalists drifting toward rock like Miles Davis, Rashaan Roland Kirk, Chick Corea, The Crusaders, Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman, or rock artists drifting into jazz like The Soft Machine, Santana, and Frank Zappa - are included here.


Volume 5 - CRB (Country, Rock, Blues)

An easy-going affair, punctuated with an occasional jolt of guitar-driven electricity, CRB captures 1972's best from two genres - blues-rock and country-rock - that had dominated the late 60s/early 70s but would soon fade prominence. Highlights include selects from Little Feat's Sailin' Shoes, JJ Cale's Naturally, The Allman Brother's Eat A Peach, Captain Beefheart's Clear Spot and The Spotlight Kid, Dr. John's Gumbo, Stephen Still's Manassas,  Humble Pie's Smokin', Ry Cooder's Into The Purple Valley, Bonnie Raitt's Give It Up, and of course, a bountiful serving of tracks from Exile On Main Street.

Volume 6 - Fela, Frogs & Friends

Fela Kuti's ultra-funky fifteen minute epic Roforofo Fight, multiple cuts from proto-pub-rockers Ton Steine Scherben's Keine Macht fur Niemand, and a litany of so dramatic French and Italian pop ballads anchor this look back at 1972's best international music.

Volume 7 - Heavy Winds A Blowin'

Surprisingly, given that it came in the heart of metal's first wave, 1972 was a fairly lean year for heavy metal, with Deep Purple's Machine Head and Live In Tokyo, Black Sabbath's Vol 4, Hawkwind's Doremi Fasol Latido, and Blue Oyster Cult's self-titled debut the only full-length of releases of note. But heavy metal fans should get a real kick out of this mix, which unearths a number of forgotten gems from emerging younger metal artists of the day (Uriah Heep, The Scorpions, Jerusalem, Jo Jo Gunne, Bang, Ramatam, Dust among them) to round things out. 

Volume 8 - The Never Ending Soul Down

Three hours of 1972's best soul music.  Highlights include multiple tracks from Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Terry Callier, The Spinners, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, The O'Jays, Donny Hathaway and many more.

Volume 9 - Wolfgang Worshippers & Chaos Engineers

Once again, as we did in out 1969 mix collection, the year's best progressive rock and Krautrock tracks are lumped together in what was a banner year for both genres. Highlights from Yes's Close To The Edge, Genesis's Foxtrot, Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick, Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Trilogy and Wishbone Ash's Argus lead the progressive attack, while selects from Faust's So Far, Can's Ege Bamyasi, Neu!, and Popol Vuh's Hosianna Manta carry the motorik torch.

Volume 10 - Hokey Dokey

Bette Midler, John Denver, The Belmonts, Donny Osmond, Helen Reddy, Ringo, The Raspberries, Tanya Tucker, Stealers Wheels, The Sweet - film soundtracks, one-hit wonders, throwaway novelties, and 1972's top providers of irresistible, sentimental dreck are all celebrated here in this A.M. radio nostalgia-fest.

Volume 11 - The Next 100

In no particular order, here are the next 100 tunes considered for these 1972 mixes.

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