Friday, July 22, 2016

The 10 Best Albums of 1972

It's been a while since we've looked back at one of the years in the Rock Era and compiled a Top 10 Albums list.  Today, we look at 1972.

It wasn't an overpowering year in which there were blockbuster albums--the closest we have are the Carpenters' A Song for You and Neil Young's Harvest, which were the top-selling albums at four million apiece.  As usual with our album charts, this list is based on the overall strength of the album as shown by its Track Strength*, and its album sales to date.

An album must have sold at least half a million to be considered for this list.

A Song for You

The Carpenters were red-hot by 1972, and the best album of their career is a toss-up between this one and their debut in 1970.  Although it only peaked at #4, one cannot go simply by chart position in ranking albums.  For one reason, an album's peak ranking depends on the competition out at the time.  For another reason, sometimes it takes years to discover the true strength of an album, and thus album sales to date are a much better indicator.  For album purists, one also has to factor in the Track Strength*, which measures the average strength of each track on the album.  A Song for You leads the way in the latter category.

A Song for You is the only album from 1972 in The Top 100 Albums of the Rock Era*.  There are some recognizable hits on the album, as well as some of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.  "Hurting Each Other" was one of the biggest hits at #2.  "Top Of The World" went to #1 overall and #2 on the Adult chart.  "Goodbye To Love" also reached the Top 10, featuring the guitar work of Tony Peluso.  It is believed to be the first power ballad to feature a fuzz guitar solo.

The Carpenters always did better with adults than they did with teeny-boppers.  "I Won't Last A Day Without You" is one of 15 #1's the duo scored with adults.  "It's Going To Take Some Time", co-written by Carole King and Toni Stern, was another of the biggest Adult songs of the year, reaching #2 for four weeks.

Karen is recognized as one of the best female singers of the Rock Era--she does a great job on the title song.  "Bless The Beasts And The Children", the title song from the movie of the same name, is one of the great underrated songs of all-time.  "Road Ode" is another track worth checking out from this great album.

Neil Young

Fans immediately point to the classic "Heart Of Gold" and the hit "Old Man" from this great album.  "Out On The Weekend" and "Harvest" stand out, and "The Needle And The Damage Done" are other prime tracks.

Honky Chateau
Elton John

Though Madman Across the Water, his earlier album in 1972, began to attract fans to his music, and earlier albums by Elton John contain some of his best music, Honky Chateau is the album that really put him on the map.  It became his first #1 album, one that stayed at the top for seven weeks, and contained his biggest hit to that point, "Rocket Man", at #6.  Honky Chateau also features "Honky Cat", a #8 song.

Like all of his best albums, though, Honky Chateau includes many other outstanding tracks.  "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" has become a concert favorite and "Mellow" is also solid.  "I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself", "Susie", "Salvation", "Slave" and "Hercules" are also worth checking out.

Machine Head
Deep Purple

Nearly every great album needs at least one big hit to attract attention, and this one contains "Smoke On The Water", a #1 smash that was released in 1973.  "Highway Star" has also received much airplay, and "Space Truckin'", "Lazy", Maybe I'm A Leo" and "Pictures Of Home" are also solid tracks.

Catch Bull At Four
Cat Stevens

Another of the year's #1 albums, Catch Bull at Four is the biggest album of Cat Stevens' career.  There isn't a bad song on the album, highlighted by "Sitting", "Can't Keep It In" and "Ruins".

Eat a Peach
Allman Brothers Band

Eat a Peach is where you can find the great song "Melissa".  "Ain't Wastin' Time No More", "Mountain Jam", "One Way Out", "Blue Sky" and "Little Martha" are other fine tracks on the album.


This group stormed onto the scene with this great debut album in 1972.  It contains the #1 classic "A Horse With No Name", the #9 song "I Need You" and the highly underrated "Sandman".  "Here", "Rainy Day", "Never Found The Time" and "Children" are some of the other top tracks on the album.

Saturate Before Using
Jackson Browne

Another outstanding debut from 1972 is this one from Jackson Browne, originally his self-titled release that was later named Saturate Before Using.  The #8 album of the year contains the Top 10 hit "Doctor My Eyes" and the minor hit "Rock Me On The Water".  It's another solid album without a bad song, but most Rock Era fans should enjoy "A Child In These Hills", "Looking Into You", "Song For Adam" and "Under The Falling Sky".

Exile On Main Street
Rolling Stones

Here's one of the finer double albums of the Rock Era.  Lacking the big hits of some other Stones releases, "Tumbling Dice", "Rocks Off", "Happy", "Soul Survivor" and "Stop Breaking Down" are some of the many highlights.

First Take
Roberta Flack

1972 was also the year we first heard of this bright talent.  First Take is famous for containing "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", but Roberta's great talent is shown on this album that also features some slow jazz-influenced numbers.  The opening song, "Compared To What", is superb, as is the last one, "Ballad Of The Sad Young Men".  "Our Age Old Hearts" and Roberta's version of "I Told Jesus" also stand out.

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