Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Look at 1972

Mark Spitz
Mark Spitz Mark Spitz

Before the world had heard of Ryan Lochte, and even before we knew of Michael Phelps, there was another boy in a Speedo that had everyone's attention. Forty years ago, a swimmer caught the hearts and imaginations of most Americans. Mark Spitz, with his perfect body, dark good looks, and a mustache about to become all the rage in adult films, took over all the headlines as he shattered records with his seven Olympic Gold medals with seven world records set. Followed by the traditional Wheaties box cover, Spitz was soon wearing those medals on every talk and variety show that was on television. The year was 1972, and I thought I would capture the time with some song that were quite popular, and each one makes me smile.

Al Green

I will start with a song that finished the year at #11 on the Year-end Billboard chart. Released at the end of 1971, Al Green delivered his patented sultry performance on "Let's Stay Together", a song he had written with Willie Mitchell and Al Jackson, Jr. It went to the top of the Pop and R&B charts, delivering a huge hit for the singer.

You can find "Let's Stay Together" on Al Green's Greatest Hits album, available on iTunes and on Amazon.

The Chi-Lites

In a period when much of the soul music was coming from either Philadelphia or Memphis, The Chi-Lites brought the sound of Chicago to their music, and scored plenty of great songs. The group had formed in the late 1950s, but really had their strongest success in the early 1970s. One hit was the #13 song on the Year-end Billboard chart. It was the only song by the Chi-Lites to top the Billboard Hot 100, and it topped the R&B chart as well. Written by lead singer Eugene Record, it is a classic ballad. "Oh Girl" told a story of love going bad, and how it could hurt to the core.

You can find "Oh, Girl" on Chi-Lites' Golden Classics album, available on iTunes and on Amazon.

Looking Glass

While I might have been young at the time, I so clearly remember this song being one of my favorites. I just thought the sound was great, so I am not surprised "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" by Looking Glass went to #12 on the Year-end Billboard chart. Written by frontman Elliot Lurie, the song was a great shining example of what was known was the Jersey Shore sound, and had nothing to do with J-Wow, The Situation, or Snooki. It took the Philly soul and gave it an edge, and some rock. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and will forever be a part of 1972.

You can find "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" on Looking Glass EP, available on iTunes and on Amazon.

The Hollies

One of the British bands to make a big impact in US music was The Hollies. The original lineup included Graham Nash and Allan Clarke, who provided writing talents as well as vocals. In fact, a young piano player by the name Reg White played keyboards on some recordings in 1969 & 70. You might know him better by his stage name, Elton John. However, by the time 1972 rolled around, Nash and Clarke had both left the band to pursue other opportunities. And while he might have left before "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)" hit the charts, Clarke (along with Roger Cook, and Roger Greenaway) had written it and supplied the vocals. The song went on to place #24 on the Year-end Billboard chart. It went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the US Cashbox Top Singles.

You can find "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)" on The Air That I Breathe - The Very Best of The Hollies album, available on iTunes and on Amazon.

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