January 14, 1973
For the record industry, 1971 ended up being neither a year of renaissance or a year of transition.
It was a year in which the soft rock of the Carole King genre grew and the harder rock genre of The Rolling Stones seemed to fade.
But where pop music will go from soft’rack was not determined in 1972.
MY FAVORITE pop album of the year was Randy Newman’s “Sail Away” (Warners MS2064).
Newman is a songwriter whose talents have found their way into almost everyone’s repertoire, but his own piano and voice have not yet been embraced by many people.
“Sail Away” is- probably the most diverse album Newman has made. It has all of the old Newman melancholy and a it of the bitterness his music is developing. It certainly captures the artist in all his complexity.
It captures his faith (“He Gives Us All His Love“), his humor (“You Can Leave Your Hat On”), his nostalgia (“Dayton, Ohio”), his charm (“Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear“), his satire (“Political Science”) and his sensitivity (“Old Man”).
His “Path less traveled by” is one of music’s most enchanting.
OTHER ALBUMS I liked best:
1. “Emergency Ward” by Nina Simone (RCA LSP4757): The high priestess of soul is on a breathtaking musical rampage that is devastating; particularly on her “My Sweet Lord-Today Is a Killer.”
2. “Some Time in New York City” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Apple SVBB 3392): As much Yoke’s as John’s, this album is the best statement of the couple’s political and musical philosophy to date; Lennon’s ((Cold Turkey” is superb, and two ‘of Yoke’s songs rank with Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” as women’s liberation anhems: “Sisters, 0 Sisters” and ‘Woman Is the Nigger of the World.”
3. “Son of Schmilsson” by Harry Nilsspn (RCA LSP417): A new height in irreverence from reclusive Nilsson; among the delights are a hilarious song called “Joy” and a parody called “The Most Beautiful World in the World.”
4. “Barbra Streisand Live Concert at the Forum” (ColumÂ»ia” KC31760): In a concert for George McGovern Ms Streisand offers some up-tempo renditions of her old hits and then hits the audience with two dazzling medleys: “Sing-Make Your Own Cind of Music” and “S w a e tÂ Inspiration-Where You Lead.”
5. “Amazing Grace” by Aretha Franklin (Atlantic SD2906): Aretha adds new dimensions to gospel music and gives the best gospel performance recorded in years.
6. “Moods” by Neil Diamond Uni 93136): Diamond is cerainly “light” entertainment, but about the best of its ilk; songs include “Song SungÂ Blue,” “Porucpine Pie,” “CanLibre,” “MornJngsaide, ” ‘PLay Me,” “Gitchy Goomy” and”Walk on Water.”
7. “The Divine Miss M” by Bette Midler (Atlantic SD7238): It’s -hard to believe this is a first album; Ms Midler is camp, versatile and so talented.
8. “Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway” (Atlantic SD72-16): A nearly perfect team, both fast rising on ttieir own; they complement each other on such such songs as you’ve Got a Friend.”
9. “Letters” by Jimmy Webb (Reprise S2055): Another songwriter too long in the shadows of his songs, Webb is a strong talent singing such a variety as to include “Galveston” and “Once in the Morning.”
10. “Requiem lor Gary McFarland” (Cobblestone CST90-19): Memorable and sensitive jazz by the late composer.
SOUNDTRACKS I liked best: Broadway, “Inner City” (RCA 1171; movie, “Cabaret” (ABC D752); television, “Liza With a Z” (Columbia KC 31762).
COMEDY: Lily Tomlin, possibly the funniest woman alive, followed her hilarious award winner of last year, “This Is a Recording,” with “And That’s The Truth” (Polydor PD5023)
WORSTS of the year? Well Paul McCartney’s group, Wings, dished up one of the trashiest albums of the year, “Wild Life” (Apple SW3386). But possibly the most uproarious adventure was Elvis Presley attempting to swing “Hey Jude” on “Elvis Now” (RCA LSP4671). Its close competitor for a Give-Up! award was his rendition of “Put Yoiir Hand in the Hand,” on the same more-or-less album.