#55 ALICE COOPER — SCHOOL’S OUT
Alice Cooper’s fifth studio album built on the success of the two 1971 LPs that preceded it. In fact, on the back of the title-track-single, the album made it to #2 on the US Billboard chart (and #5 in Australia). The stable lineup of Alice (Vincent Furnier to his mum), Glen Buxton (lead guitar), Michael Bruce (rhythm), Dennis Dunaway (bass) and Neal Smith on drums were as tight and powerful a band as could be found anywhere at the time and they deliver throughout this LP. The striking (and controversial) cover was designed by Craig Braun. What’s so special about an image of a school desk with a lift-up lid, you ask? The fact, I answer, that the LP inside was accompanied by a pair of paper female underpants. Shock! Outrage! Corruption of Youth! Burn the record! Anyway, the underwear was discontinued because it was highly flammable, and presumably people with particularly hot buns were setting themselves alight. That must be why my secondhand copy doesn’t have the lingerie inclusion. Pity. Highlights: “School’s out”; “Public animal #9”. [Released 30 June 1972]
#54 STEPHEN STILLS — MANASSAS
Sometimes it seems that Stephen Stills is the overlooked member of the famous Crosby Stills Nash and Young conglomerate. The singer-guitarist is a fine singer and versatile guitarist. He can do blues, country, ballads, rock… all of which are in evidence on his sprawling 1972 double album Manassas. It’s like a calling card, or perhaps more accurately, a dossier of work, that could be likened to the Stones Exile On Main Street. In fact, if you are a country music aficionado you might well have Manassas in your Top 10 for 1972. I’m not, but I love the variety and commitment of this. And I have a soft spot for sprawling double albums. Highlights: “Both of us (bound to lose)”; “Johnny’s garden”; “The love gangster”. [Released 12 April 1972]
#53 GRATEFUL DEAD — EUROPE ’72
Since the early 1990s there have been so many archival live Grateful Dead albums it is utterly impossible for any but the most dedicated Deadheads to keep track of them, let alone own them all. Even during the band’s peak years, they released a swag of concert albums. Why? Because performing live was what the Dead did. Often. Long meandering tours full of long trippy concerts where long wandering extrapolations explored the inner and outer reaches of the band’s musicality.
Few rock bands have blended as many influences as the Grateful Dead. Rock, country, blues, folk, bluegrass, world, psychedelia (US version), even a swirl of jazz now and then. Most of this is heard in one of their definitive live albums—yes, even amongst the 150+ live albums, this one stands tall—the 1972 tour of Europe released that same year on triple vinyl and called, simply, Europe ’72. This entertaining, shambolic, exhilarating, melodic, grooving set would make a perfectly fine entry point to the Dead’s oeuvre. How can I be sure? Because it was mine, back in the early 1980s. The VC collection how holds almost forty Grateful Dead titles, so beware that if you try this warm, human and welcoming drug you may become hooked. Highlights: “He’s gone”; “China cat sunflower”. [Released 5 November 1972]
#52 HERBIE MANN — PUSH PUSH
Full of great grooves, funky playing and switched on belief that jazz can be fun, Push Push is one of flautist Herbie Mann’s best (and most popular) LPs. Yet every time I pull it from the shelf I shudder… until I remember that this is not a vertical gatefold sleeve. If you think that a bit prissy, have a gander at the inside, where the meaning of the album title is abundantly clear. Not that I have any problem at all with some consensual rumpy pumpy, you understand. It’s just the vision of a naked Herbie that gives me the heebie jeebies.
Duane Allman guests throughout the record and turns in some fine solos. Richard Tee is a fabulous keyboard player and the rhythm section of Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr. is as superb as you’d expect (they anchored Booker T and the MGs). Highlights: “Push push”; “Spirit in the dark”. [Released 1971, so not eligible for this project but I’d already written and photographed before discovering the error in the VC spreadsheet, so let’s just pretend, OK?]
#51 RASPBERRIES — FRESH RASPBERRIES
Eric Carmen’s Raspberries released their first two albums in 1972 (April and November) and boy, the choice was hard. The debut has the gold-plated power pop classic “Go all the way” but a couple of flaccid love songs where the energy drops right away. The sophomore effort, Fresh Raspberries, lacked the killer single to make it immortal but is more consistently entertaining. Of course, I could say “get both, dudes” but lists are about choices so, with apologies to my good friend JDB, I’m opting for the second album. Highlights: “I wanna be with you”; “Might as well”. [Released November 1972]