Here are 25 choices from 1972, picked in a random, absolute order that says more about my cut-and-paste skills/ laziness than you'd like to believe.
24) The Kinks -- The Kink Kronikles: Considering that "Lola" song helped them sell some records, it was time for music fans who'd had their attention diverted by that Sgt. Pepper's nonsense to find out what the Kinks had been up to on those albums that nobody bought. This two-record set features none of the obvious early hits like "You Really Got Me" or "All Day and All of the Night," but rather settles into a world where "Dead End Street" makes it first LP appearance and "Mindless Child of Motherhood," "Days" and "Autumn Almanac" have friends to play with!
22) The Velvet Underground -- Live At Max's Kansas City: Billy Yule isn't Maureen Tucker, but the ambience here puts you next to Jim Carroll who requests the drinks and drugs. The 2004 reissue gives you both sets of Lou Reed's final gig with the VU in their entirety, but the lo-fi quality makes me happy to listen the original edited version. Someone's got to save us from ourselves.
20) Alice Cooper -- School's Out: It's truly sad that Alice Cooper eventually abandoned the idea of "Alice Cooper Is A Band" since none of the records he made without his band ever amounted to one-fifth of what he accomplished with guitar players who had a mutual stake in the craft, as heard here.
18) The O'Jays -- Back Stabbers: Before the mechanization of disco, there was a too-brief period when plush orchestration added great effect to singers who could sing like angels. Or did they sing like devils? Supernatural skills are confusing to the lay person. We visit the crossroads and get a ticket!
16) Tim Buckley -- Greetings From L.A.: It's pretty perverse that a guy as universally creative as Tim Buckley would submit this album of rockers at a time when mellowness was flowering from Carole King, James Taylor, the Eagles and Eric Andersen (see directly above). Buckley did mellow better than anyone. Yet, he bucked the trend. Why do artists have to be so difficult? Don't they understand the basic laws of supply and demand? I guess Buckley did. He died.
14) Randy Newman -- Sail Away: Considering where music was going in the 1970s -- hello, Aerosmith! -- Randy Newman became even more out of sync than when he started. Yet, for all that out-of-sync-ness, he was actually extremely attuned to universal truths. Whether it's "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)" or "Political Science," or anything off this fine record, Newman pushed forth ideas that the heaviest, baddest bands in the world wouldn't touch with their moneyed and heavily-diseased poles.
12) Jethro Tull -- Thick As A Brick, Living In The Past: Confession: in 1983, I made a tape edit of Thick As A Brick, where I edited out all the "boring" instrumental parts and got the song down from 45 minutes to 23 and change. In truth, the edits I made with a lowly pause button were random and quite jarring to anyone who wasn't me. But it became the way I learned the album. So you can imagine my surprise and annoyance when CD reissues of the album did not feature my personal edit of the album. That said, I've grown to like the instrumental breaks ok.
10) Pink Floyd -- Obscured By Clouds: Before Pink Floyd became Pink Floyd, the hugely successful Billboard chart-dominating rock 'n' roll outfit of the 1970s and an extension of Roger Waters' journal entries, they were finding ways to survive without their original kingpin, Syd Barrett. This led to the remaining members stepping up in unpredicted ways, with David Gilmour, not even a member of the original quartet, stepping up big time and making sounds that existed without the blues.
8) Big Star -- #1 Record: Thanks to horrible distribution and promotion, #1 Record got buried. Thanks to CD reissues that fitted both albums (#1 Record, Radio City) on one disc, my memories are all now jumbled as to what appears on which album. I will say it sure was nice when Chris Bell was around to counterbalance Alex Chilton and they even let Andy Hummel mess about. A true band! Imagine that!
6) NEU! -- NEU!: These good Germans created their own beat -- Motorik -- and really stuck it to their old mates in Kraftwerk! While modestly successful for a weird album, NEU! has gone on to become an important building block for people tired of 'That Same Old Rock 'N' Roll' that Bob Seger loved so dearly.
4) The Rolling Stones -- Exile On Main St.: It's quite funny watching people who don't get it. "It's a lot of tired blues!" They have a point if you go in expecting a collection of singles or songwriting that breaks new ground. It's all in the vibe and in the performances. It lacks self-importance, which if you're someone raised on the idea of the album as a sacred text, it must be soul-destroying to discover that "Ventilator Blues" doesn't mean a thing. It's about the guitars.
2) Van Morrison -- Saint Dominic's Preview: The first sign here of an album worth thinking about: two tracks at least ten minutes long. Van might nail a decent single in three minutes with "Jackie Wilson Said," but he's best when he lets the water boil. And when he was hungry enough to try harder.
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