January of 1972 saw the release of Jackson Browne’s self-titled debut album.
The album’s cover depicts a canvas water bag decorated with Browne’s face and the words “saturate before using” across the top. Many fans, as well as DJs and the record label itself, mistakenly referred to ‘Saturate Before Using’ as the album’s title.
Browne had kicked around for 6 years as a songwriter and band member for others so he was pretty seasoned by the time he cut this debut, and critics praised its confidence and polish.
Eat a Peach, released in February of 1972, was the third album by The Allman Brothers Band and the last one to feature guitarist Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident in October of ’71 at the age of 24.
Much of the album was written following Duane’s death as a tribute to him, but the double album also included tracks recorded before his death both live and in the studio. Two full sides of Eat a Peach contained a 34-minute jam (titled ‘Mountain Jam’) that would presumably try even a true fan’s patience.
Curtis Mayfield’s soundtrack to the Blaxploitation film Super Fly was released in the summer of 1972 and became one of the rare soundtrack albums to gain greater acclaim than the film it accompanied.
Mayfield’s socially conscious lyrics put him in the same conversation as Marvin Gaye, and his funk compositions helped define the genre for a decade.
Jethro Tull’s fifth album, Thick as a Brick dropped in March of 1972, one year after the release of Aqualung. Aqualung was often described as a “concept album,” a characterization bandleader Ian Anderson disagreed with, and this album was recorded as a response to critics.
“I always said at the time that this is not a concept album,” Anderson said of Aqualung. “This is just an album of varied songs of varied instrumentation and intensity in which three or four are the kind of keynote pieces for the album but it doesn’t make it a concept album. In my mind when it came to writing the next album, Thick as a Brick, was done very much in the sense of: ‘Whuh, if they thought Aqualung was a concept album, Oh! Okay, we’ll show you a concept album.’ And it was done as a kind of spoof, a send-up, of the concept album genre.”
Continuing my look at celebrated albums from my birth year of 1972, here’s Lou Reed’s Transformer.
This was Reed’s second solo album, and his second in 1972 — his self-titled solo debut came out in April of that year, while Transformer was released in November.
The album was produced by David Bowie and Bowie’s frequent collaborator Mick Ronson, both big Velvet Underground fans, and they gave Reed’s work a bit of a glam makeover.