Welcome back to another edition of CHART ATTACK!, everyone! Sick of the ’90s? Sick of the ’80s? Sick of … uh … the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, 1970, 1971, and 1973 – 1979? (I’m reaching here.) Then have we got a year for you! This time last year, guest writer Beau Dure covered a 1976 CHART ATTACK!, and he’s back to tackle 1972! By the way, Beau runs his own fantastic blog, Mostly Modern Media, and is also all over the Sports section at USA Today. Between the two sites, it’s almost like you were at the Olympics yourself! But for now, enjoy Beau’s fine writing right here at Popdose! – JH
Are you ready to rock? Or R&B? Or AC? Or whatever you call Looking Glass?
Welcome to a diverse bunch of classics, most of which you can still hum today. You can also still hum Kid Rock’s latest, but only because you’re really humming “Werewolves of London.”
September 2, 1972:
10. Back Stabbers — O’Jays Amazon iTunes
9. Rock and Roll Part 2 — Gary Glitter Amazon iTunes
8. You Don’t Mess Around With Jim — Jim Croce Amazon iTunes
7. Goodbye to Love — Carpenters Amazon iTunes
6. Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me — Mac Davis Amazon iTunes
5. Hold Your Head Up — Argent Amazon iTunes
4. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) — Looking Glass Amazon iTunes
3. I’m Still in Love With You — Al Green Amazon iTunes
2. Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress) — The Hollies Amazon iTunes
1. Alone Again (Naturally) — Gilbert O’Sullivan Amazon iTunes
10. Back Stabbers — O’Jays
I had a lot of insights into this song as an allegory reaching beyond mere relationship paranoia to the greater social realm into which many R&B contemporaries were operating, but AllMusic already did that. They also noted the dichotomy between this one, their first hit, and the next one, the #1 ray of sunshine “Love Train.”
So what can I add to this? Probably just the performance clip from Soul Train to get us all feeling that 70s vibe …
9. Rock and Roll Part 2 — Gary Glitter
Upon reading a few books on Tibetan mysticism, a young Gary Glitter made a pilgrimage to the region. He was stunned to be greeted by the Dalai Lama himself. The Dalai’s teachings on happiness and desire were a revelation to Glitter, who had been raised on French existentialism. Now convinced that his actions and words had meaning far beyond anything he had encountered in Western philosophy, Glitter returned to the studio determined to explore connections between Buddhist meditation and the obscure Austrian philosophical school that rejected nihilism.
Then Glitter remembered that he wasn’t in Yes, and he recorded something for American sports teams to play during timeouts.
8. You Don’t Mess Around With Jim — Jim Croce (download)
Like Quentin Tarantino with an acoustic guitar, Croce was obsessed with telling stories of bad, bad men. He also recorded the gorgeous ballad “Time in a Bottle,” as if atoning for his tales of small-scale violence.
The metaphors in the chorus, of course, are pop-culture standards.
7. Goodbye to Love — Carpenters
She’s never known love, but she’s saying goodbye to it? Yeah, welcome to one of the most forgettable of the Carpenters’ zillion Top 10 hits during this period.
6. Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me — Mac Davis
I think the reason Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” was such an instant classic is that it expresses the same sentiment as this piece of dreck and several others like it in a much more dignified –- and rocking -– way. I’m guessing most women looked over at ol’ Mac through bleary eyes and said, “Uh, I’m already hooked on cocaine. Why else do you think I’m here?”
Ick. After this, we need something inspirational, maybe with some great riffs and some light head-banging. What’s next? Awww, hell yeah …
5. Hold Your Head Up — Argent (download)
Granted, after all these years, most people can’t come up with more than 10 words to this song. There’s “Hold your head (up/high)” and “And if they saaaaaayyyyy …”
And yes, the organ solo meanders awkwardly at times, though it neither overreaches as badly as the Doors’ “Light My Fire” nor underreaches as badly as Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride”. Geez, my 5-year-old could play a better organ breakdown than the guy from Steppenwolf.
But this song is a true testament to the power of a good guitar riff, a good hook in the chorus and a few dramatic chord progressions. Listen to it on a good classic rock station (or, today, an iPod) while driving through the countryside after a bad high school experience, and it’s almost a religious experience. It’s an organ, after all.
And speaking of my 5-year-old, he got an early exposure to this song while potty-training. Now, whenever he hears this on my iPod, he sings, “Pull your pants up, whoa-oh, pull your pants up, whoa-oh, pull your pants up …”
4. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) — Looking Glass (download)
Sort of the same theme as Mac Davis’ song, but at least there’s a reason for this one. He’s in love with the ocean. Silly Brandy. How can you compete with a 41.1-million-square-mile body of water?
This one also has some hooks. A couple of generations can sing the chorus.
3. I’m Still in Love With You — Al Green
Most of Al Green’s songs sound the same. Anyone have a problem with that?
2. Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress) — The Hollies
I refuse to believe Graham Nash had anything to do with a song this cool. And now that I read the Hollies’ band history at Wikipedia, I see he did not. That’s a relief.
I just wonder if the long woman had a long dress or a short dress. Or a long jacket.
1. Alone Again (Naturally) — Gilbert O’Sullivan
You’re not going to hear many self-consciously clever songs or artist names like this today. Anti-intellectualism is back in vogue, so cutesy wordplay is out.
In 1972, though, being clever was a good thing. We were only three years removed from a massive intellectual exercise in which, in response to JFK’s great challenge, we had successfully faked a moon landing. (Kidding, kidding – yes, I did see the Mythbusters episode.)
What really bugs me about this one, though, is that the vocal track is overprocessed to the point at which you wonder if they were trying to dupe listeners into thinking this was the latest Paul McCartney record. In those days, anything with the McCartney name was still guaranteed money.
And today, we just have Jesse McCartney.
So enjoy our trips back to 1972 whenever you can. Not a bad time at all, aside from oil shocks and the friction surrounding a drawn-out war … hey, wait a minute …