1972 COUNTDOWN… #50 — #46

50  PENTANGLE — SOLOMAN’S SEAL

The last album in Pentangle’s original run, Solomon’s Seal is not well regarded by critics who, in my opinion, are being too hard by half. Yes, this LP does seem a little light on the bubbling invention and restrained exuberance of earlier works, but it is solid and thoroughly enjoyable. A little more electric guitar adds some extra punch and the songs are a mixture of traditional and new, as per the Pentangle style. Highlights: “People on the highway”; “Lady of Carlisle”. [Released September 1972]

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49  DONNY HATHAWAY — LIVE

A fabulous live album I discovered via Discrepancy Records. The piece I wrote was reprinted here last week. [Released February 1972]

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48  THE TEMPTATIONS — ALL DIRECTIONS

By the time this album was released, the superb harmonies of The Temptations had been gracing the airwaves for eight years. But serious questions were being asked about their viability following the departure of Eddie Kendricks. Could they still cut it?

While most of the second side of All Directions is standard early seventies soul—well sung, nicely produced, but nothing exceptional—the first side is quite extraordinary. Opening with the electric energy of “Funky Music Shop Nuff Turns Me On”, the band let listeners know that they could sweat it with the best of ’em. Then there’s the politically charged fire of “Run Charlie Run”, deploying the n-word provocatively in a passionately funky rant about prejudice and racial violence. All of which is a thrilling curtain raiser to the album’s centrepiece, the epic, monumental groove of “Papa was a rolling stone”. This ambitious and utterly transfixing twelve-minute track (by Barrett Strong & Norman Whitfield) deserves all the accolades it has received over the years, including from this writer. Read the story here. Highlights: Side one. [Released July 1972]

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47  MILES DAVIS — ON THE CORNER

In was no secret. Miles always kept an ear open to what was happening in music, and in the early 1970s it was funk that got him in the solar plexus like a left jab. Listening to James Brown and Sly Stone led Miles to hire funk bass player Michael Henderson and rebuild his band in a way that drew a line under his famous Sixties outfits. This new unit, the one that produced the music for On The Corner and some of Big Fun, was a rhythm-based groove monster driven by Jack DeJohnette, who locked into percussive sequences over which saxophonist Dave Liebman and guitarist John McLaughlin sprayed enticing, frustrating, fragmentary solos. Herbie Hancock pushed his keyboards to the limit, introducing a noise element to the jams. The result is a minimalist fusion epic that can be listened to as a fifty-four minute whole. If you dance to this, you will get very flexible indeed. Highlights: Impossible to pull out a section. [Released October 1972]

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46  EMERSON LAKE & PALMER — TRILOGY

Something of the forgotten middle child in the E, L & P catalogue, Trilogy is a solid but not spectacular album. It was the trio’s third LP in a little over a year, so perhaps some fatigue had taken the edge of their writing. Yet it is an enjoyable record that punches all the ELP buttons: bravura keyboard work from Keith Emerson, Greg Lake’s powerful voice and Carl Palmer drumming up a thunderhead. Highlights: “Hoedown”, an EL&P arrangement of Aaron Copeland’s composition, presaging their later success with “Fanfare for the common man”; “Trilogy”. [Released July 1972]

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28 comments

  1. I own albums by four of these five artists, but have heard zero of these!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. #48 would be a top 10 for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair enough. Papa almost gets it there on its own! Any other Temptations albums you cherish, Joe?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As Oscar Wilde said, I can resist anything apart from The Temptations.

        I have the psychedelic one, a bunch of singles, this one, a live one and a greatest hits.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Not only was Oscar a huge fan (as you are as well, clearly) but I understand he advised them on fashion for the album cover shoot.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. ‘Trilogy’ is still one of my ffavouriite albums of all time … weird, coz I’m not rreally into Prog and sort of ‘pomp rock’ generally speaking. I still play hat and ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ quit regularly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Both are very enjoyable albums, for sure. An energetic symphonic prog. Thanks for sharing your ELP ‘likes’!

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    1. Your favourite from these, Aaron, or a 1972 Top 10 entry?

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  4. In awe of that Temptations guy’s power stance! Been revisiting ELP a lot recently. Trilogy was my fave of theirs way back but it has dropped down the rankings a bit now. Still great but I prefer Tarkus and Pictures now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t the back cover photo simply fabulous?
      Side one of Tarkus is ELP’s pinnacle, I reckon. Pictures is great too. And I’m already anticipating their next album, ripe for reappraisal.

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      1. Can’t remember a photo, I’ll need to look it out! The next album makes me sadder, a little madder…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s OK. I’ll fetch you a ladder.

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          1. Just what I need, thanks!

            Liked by 1 person

  5. On the Corner is, perhaps, enigmatic for me; not that I dislike it. But if I stretch for an analogy, it feels like interloping pieces from various jigsaw puzzles have been stitched together with a cunning percussive web.

    Interesting set if albums.
    Thanks
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was interesting spending time with On The Corner, DD. What seemed a bit lazy when I first heard it back in the day—the loops, recurrent motifs in pieces separated only by their titles—has more appeal, fascination even, when viewed through a minimalist funk lens.

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      1. I will light up the Sunroom stereo with On the Corner when we return from this trip. It sounds like it deserves another outing.
        BTW we’ve more or less followed the coast line from the SA border back to Ocean Grove and it is sensational!
        DD

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That sounds fabulous. Haven’t been to Ocean Grove in decades. Is it still a sleepy hollow (he asks hopefully)?

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          1. Ocean Grove is no longer a smattering of beachside shacks. It has grown, a lot. There are enough cafes and boutiques in a busy shopping centre, which is encircled by but budding McMansions, to give it a fairly bourgeois feel. Barwon Heads even more so. The extent of change surprised me, but I am not complaining.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Interesting. On the one hand, I have no compunction about leaving the room to get a snack or make a cup of tea whilst On the Corner plays (because it is a bit tedious); on the other hand, when it stops playing, it feels too soon.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. An immersive groove indeed.

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  6. Those threads on the Temptations are to *die* for. And a ‘man purse’ to boot! Trilogy was a favorite of mine in my teens. I listened almost exclusively to the first side. I’ve been trying to remember what pointed me in its direction, as I’m not a big prog fan (same as onceuponatime70s). I think it was because, in the summer of 1975, I attended music camp and the orchestra I played in performed Hoedown. And I’d always liked Copland, and someone must have told me about ELP’s version on Trilogy. And I love Fugue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Certainly playing any music oneself seems to imprint it on the psyche, doesn’t it? I knew you were a Copeland fan; it’s easy to imagine Aaron enjoying ELP’s romp through Hoedown! I’ve not read the composer’s reactions to their 1977 effort; have you?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’d just like to register a quick vote for Willy Of Winsbury as the best track on Solomon’s Seal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Phil. Any votes for Pentangle music are welcome and counted at least twice in any poll. 🙂

      Like

  8. This post prompted me to listen to Papa was a Rolling Stone, something I haven’t done in a couple decades. Monumental? No kidding. I felt like I went on a journey. This will be in my rotation from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fantastic Jeff. What a way to roll. 🙂

      Like

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