1972 – All The Young Dudes

Paul Fitzpatrick: June 2022, London

My good mate Jim Martin (of this parish), sent me the above graphic, listing a selection of albums released 50 years ago in 1972.

Looking at the list we joked that our musical tastes haven’t progressed much as we continue to binge on a daily diet of much the same content.

I expect it will be a similar story next year when we reflect on the top albums from 1973 and no doubt for a few more years to come, probably until 1978, or should I say, 2028.

As far as music critics are concerned it’s well chronicled that 1971 is seen as being the most prolific/creative year for popular music.

Seminal albums like Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ and ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ are all lauded as being among the best and most inspirational albums of their type.


Whilst there’s an argument to be made that 1971 was music’s high point, surely it’s also a moot point, for when it comes to music, or for that matter any art-form, there’s no right or wrong…

One man’s Elvis can be another man’s Shakin’ Stevens, because beauty, as we know, is in the eye, or in this case, the ear, of the beholder.

Despite what highbrow critics will lead you to believe, music isn’t measurable… just because a critic in The Guardian awards 5 stars to the latest ‘Let’s Eat Grandma’ album, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to love it too, or there’s something wrong with your tastes if you don’t.

Music is about opinions, personal taste and the emotions certain songs invoke, particularly tunes from your formative years.

Take 1971 – there’s no doubt it was a classic year, but in truth as an early teen who was just getting into music, it passed me by.

I caught up of course, and looking at my vinyl collection today, Joni, Marvin & Zep are all well represented but in 71 I’d no idea who Joni Mitchell was and the first Zep album I listened to in full was Zeppelin III in 1973.

Cut forward 12 months and things were different, I feel I was present for a lot of the marquee releases in 72 and remember them well, particularly those by Roxy Music, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Mott The Hoople, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and of course the baptism of fire that was Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, which still sounds great today.

Maybe I wasn’t as switched on as I thought I was though, two of my all-time favourite bands, Steely Dan and Little Feat, also released albums in 1972 that I’d no idea about at the time.

Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill
Little Feat – Sailin Shoes

So why should 12 months make such a difference?
I think I figured it out…

In the summer of 1971, I was adjusting to the evolution of becoming a teen as well as navigating & negotiating the ensuing boundaries.
I was into music but my inputs were basically restricted to two sources – Radio One and Top Of The Pops.

Fast forward to the summer 72, I was heading into my 3rd Year at school, edging ever closer to the coveted back row of seats on the school bus (and the cinema!), I’d experienced my first kiss, had my first beer and there was a new found confidence that on reflection came from nowhere.

Looking back, I relate this embolden sense of self to the scene in Young Frankenstein where Gene Wilder introduces the Creature on stage –

“From what was once a mass of inarticulate lifeless tissues, may I now present a cultured, sophisticated man about town”

Of course the Creature fell on his arse as we all do when we get a bit cocky.

In terms of musical awareness though, the difference between 71 to 72 was enormous and it was primarily down to access.

The incremental freedom I enjoyed in 72 vs 71, enabled me to access a lot more music via….

The Youth Club – where the older girls had great tastes and dominated the record player.
Record shops – I was now allowed to go into town unchaperoned.
Late night listening – Old Grey Whistle Test & Radio Luxembourg.
Gigs – my first gig was at the Greens Playhouse in 72 to see Humble Pie, supported by Peter Frampton.

So, thank’s Jim for triggering some great memories although we both know there’s a glaring omission from the list of albums.
That album being The Temptations ‘All Directions’ which features a 12 minute version of ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’.

A track that Jim & I used to listen to open mouthed, in 23rd Precinct’s listening booth on a Saturday afternoon, when there was no football.

I look forward to receiving the 1973 list of albums next year.

*Inspired by this trip down memory lane I’ve cobbled together a playlist of tracks released in 1972. A mishmash of singles and less obvious album tracks for your listening pleasure….

12 thoughts on “1972 – All The Young Dudes”

  1. Great post, Paul. Looking at the opening list, II think I have sixteen of those albums, PLUS another not mentioned: ‘Live in Europe’ by Rory Gallagher. (Of course, you were expecting this comment, I know. It’s my duty. 😀 )

    Like you, most of these were bought on ‘catch up’ though I do remember buying Heep’s ‘Magician’s Birthday’ from the record shop beneath the flats at Anniesland … and than taking it back for exchange after playing it once and finding it a tad ‘boring.’ compared to ‘very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble.’ I soon came round though, and re-bought it in later years.
    Yeah – there was a big leap forward in our musical tastes within that 12 month period. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent! You know, as it turns out I think I got my own transistor radio around late ’71 when I was a young kid. Probably a Christmas gift. So then I could start listening to ‘my’ music instead of what my parents put on the house radio. So I think I’m very nostalgic for ’72. But looking back, even without that, it was one incredibly good year for music. Apart from many great one off singles and albums by existing artists , we saw the entry of so many good acts – steely Dan, EAgles, Roxy Music, Doobie Bros., … and ones suddenly jumping out of the shadows to the top like Elton John, and in N.America, Moody Blues. ’73 always seemed a bit of a letdown in comparison.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. 74 I liked a lot. 73 did give me 2 of my all-time favorite albums, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’s & ‘ Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ ( though I only got into the Floyd some years later). But seemed like not nearly as many memorable singles on radio that year

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for another insightful article.

    1972 was the year when I discovered popular music. It came by virtue of a friend at primary school who told me off when I borrowed my mother’s collection of Frank Sinatra and Doris Day records to bring into an open day at school. He played me Rockin’ Robin by Michael Jackson (yes, I know!), and it kind of went from there.

    Imho the relative importance of 1972 will always be distorted by the fact that it was the year of Ziggy. That kind of closes the argument for so many people.

    It was also really the year in which Glam Rock really kicked in. In essence it only really remained at the head of the game until the end of ’73, whereafter its star began to fade.

    These articles are really useful for those of us who wish to remember that great era with accuracy and clarity. Please do keep them coming.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cheers Phil,
      Thanks for your kind words.

      You’re so right about Ziggy and the Glam Rock scene. Bolan kicked things off in 71 but when Bowie, Roxy and Glitter rocked up in 72 it really took off.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent. That’s a strong list alright. I was just a toddler back then, but by the mid-eighties I’d ‘grown into’ almost all of those bands, and luckily got to see Heep and BOC live. Can remember watching The Old Grey Whistle Test and of course TOTP from a very young age, plus the family always had records playing in the living room along with the radio which was always on in the kitchen.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Loved Uriah Heep and can’t think how I missed seeing them ‘live.’

    I wonder how many of today’s big hitters will still be talked of in such glowing terms in 50 years time. I bet you a hundred million pounds (coz I’ll not be around to stump up!) there won’t be many. 😀 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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