Most People I Know (Think That I’m Crazy) – Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs
When doing this list, which is very much focussed on what happens in Europe and the Americas, it is easy to forget about the music that was happening on the other side of the world. Makes it a nice change, therefore, that this final section of the 1972 songs begins with a song that is thought to be an exemplar of Australian rock.
It’s a song that feels very much like the result of the previous five years of music being filtered on it’s way around the world. There’s elements of The Rolling Stones, The Byrds and early Who that has been meshed together. Since I have never heard of this act before, it is really hard to judge how big they were. I mean, this is an act that was big enough in their native Australia to weather the storm of Beatlemania.
As a song it is nice enough. It feels like a bit of a throwback, but that’s not always a bad thing.
Taj Mahal – Jorge Ben
Something extremely different here from the shores of Brazil. My first instinct was to think of this as samba disco or funky samba (mainly because of that guitar in the background). It’s unlike anything that I have heard so far for this song list, and am unlikely to again. It was just so much fun to listen to!
What I have been really getting from listening to this list is just how influential Brazil was in this era of music. Once jazz and blues had become normalised and brought into the fold of the English-speaking world’s music it really is these Afro-South American genres of samba, tropicalia and bossa nova that ware the next big wave of influence. It’ll get drowned out by punk and metal, but this will still be playing in the background.
Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed
I’ve always enjoyed this song. It never ceases to amaze me just how a song about a transvestite hooker giving blow jobs got radio play in the US. I mean, sure, we have sexual songs now – but this is 1972. I guess that it helps that this song has the catchy ‘do-be-dop’ as the earworm, so people don’t realise what they’ve just been listening to. At least on the first listen.
It’s also interesting how this song was co-produced by a young David Bowie and each verse namechecks a different member of Andy Warhol’s collective. ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ is just this little piece of history that has so many layers to it that could take an entire book to explore.
Virginia Plain – Roxy Music
I guess it’s official, we’re entering the brief window of time where glam rock was a big genre. Honestly, this is going to be a bit of a push for me as the majority of glam rock doesn’t really excite me. Although, way back when, I did enjoy listening to Roxy Music’s second album For Your Pleasure as that was when Brian Eno took the reins and steered the band into a more art rock direction.
As for this song, I am glad that this did not make it onto the initial pressings of Roxy Music’s eponymous debut as I really did not like this. Something just felt off about it, which is rectified in their later work.
You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
Arguably one of the best mysteries in modern music history is the identity of the man who ‘You’re So Vain’ is aimed at. Then again, any man who thinks it could be about them just plays into the song’s conceit.
It’s a powerful piece of pop-rock that has become near immortal thanks to the fact that the identity of the man hasn’t been 100% divulged, just one of the three men who the song is about: actor-director Waren Beatty. For me this sounds like a rockier Carole King, which is never a bad thing. It makes me wonder what a Carly Simon album would be like, especially as she has influenced one of my favourite pop acts: Carly Rae Jepson.
Today I Started Loving You Again – Bettye Swann
Every now and then I do feel the need to scratch my head as to why a song has been included on the list. ‘Today I Started Loving You Again’ is one of those songs.
It’s interesting how this song started life as the work of outlaw country star Merle Haggard and has passed through so many hands that it has resulted in this big band RnB cover. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good song with Bettye Swann having a beautiful timbre to her voice – but it’s a throwback to the late sixties (when it was first recorded… and just wasn’t a hit until 1972). So, yes, why is this on here? Who knows, but who cares. At least it’s a good song.
Il mio canto libero – Lucio Battisti
At the start of this post we had a song that was deemed an Australian rock classic, now we have a song seen as an Italian pop classic. Maybe future iterations of this list will finally bite the bullet and start to include classic songs from Japan, Korea and China? I hope so, but that’s not what this song is about.
‘Il mio canto libero’ is an Italian pop-rock song about the freedom to love. The first 2 minutes are an excellent slow build into a big emotional chosut, but by the time you reach the four minute mark it starts to feel like the song has used up all it’s emotional cache and it becomes slightly overshadowed by it’s own bombast.
Superfly – Curtis Mayfield
Sadly the first thing I thought about when this song started was the Nelly and Christina Aguilera duet ‘Tilt Your Head Back’ (don’t judge, it’s a good song).
It is hard to hear ‘Superfly’ and not compare it to ‘Theme From Shaft’. After all these are both title tracks from blaxploitation films from the early 1970s that contain elements of funk and soul. For me ‘Superfly’ is a better song because it doesn’t feel indulgent, in fact it’s subversive because (as a song that plays over the credits of Superfly the movie) it actively criticises some of the things you just watched. All whilst being effortlessly cool.
Makes me think that Superfly should be my next album.
Crazy Horse – The Osmonds
How did a Mormon boyband end up making a great piece of hard rock like ‘Crazy Horses’? Thinking about everything I have been fed about the Osmond family and their incredibly wholesome image I cannot help but but applaud such a substantial change in direction that ended up with them playing concerts filled with Black Sabbath fans.
This is a song that helped to usher in harder rock and metal into the charts – and they did it with a song about gas-guzzling cars messing up the enviornment. Such a wholesome topic, which shows how you can never truly take the Mormonism out of the Osmonds. Also they were pretty much all in their mid to late teens by this point, so how metal could their lyrics be.
All the Young Dudes – Mott the Hoople
Okay, so maybe I over-generalised about glam rock. I really like this song, and have done since I first heard it on the Juno soundtrack. I guess that it might be the David Bowie influence that makes ‘All the Young Dudes’ a noteworthy track.
I’m not sure why this works as well as it does. Maybe it’s the dark music and imagery? Maybe it’s because I’m still not entirely sure what is going on in the song? Maybe it’s the opening guitar and the closing repetition. Probably a bit of everything. It’s just a good glam rock song.