Nine Out Of Ten

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten album chart from May 6, 1972, forty years ago this week:

First Take by Roberta Flack
Harvest by Neil Young
America by America
Eat A Peach by the Allman Brothers Band
Fragile by Yes
Paul Simon by Paul Simon
Smokin’ by Humble Pie
Nilsson Schmilsson by Nilsson
Tapestry by Carole King
Graham Nash/David Crosby by Graham Nash & David Crosby

All but one of those albums now sit in my LP stacks (and a couple are replicated on CD). The only one of those albums that I’ve never owned is the Humble Pie effort. During the mid-1990s era of vinyl expansion, I evidently relied on the 1979/1983 edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide, which pretty much said that the essential Humble Pie albums were the group’s first two – As Safe As Yesterday Is and Town and Country, both from 1969 – and a live collection. I got the first two, passed on the live collection and gave no thought to Smokin’.

I thus managed to evidently never hear “Hot ’N’ Nasty,” the one single from the album that reached the Billboard Hot 100 (peaking at No. 52). This morning, that doesn’t bother me, as from the vantage point of forty years, “Hot ’N’ Nasty” seems to be nothing close to nasty and not particularly hot at all. It’s a decent piece of early Seventies boogie, and hearing it leaves me no more tempted to find the album, which peaked at No. 6, than I was an hour ago.

At least two of the other albums on that Top Ten list from forty years ago, however, would be on any list I put together of essential pop/rock albums, and three others, if they happened not to make that list, would come close. I wrote extensively about one of those essential albums, Tapestry, a year ago, so we’ll let that one go by today. The other essential album on that list, to my ears, is Eat A Peach, which includes the last material recorded by Duane Allman before his death in October 1971 as well as material recorded after that by his surviving band-mates. The album – which peaked at No. 4 – is probably best remembered for the live thirty-three minute “Mountain Jam” that was based on a theme from Donovan’s “There Is A Mountain” and took up two of the four sides of the double-LP package.

(A couple of ABB-related things: This past weekend, I read an excerpt from Gregg Allman’s new memoir, My Cross To Bear, in the current edition of Rolling Stone. The excerpt was revealing – perhaps too revealing at moments – and reflective, and it made me want to read the entire book. And as I researched this piece this morning, I finally learned at Wikipedia why the album was called Eat A Peach: “[T]he album name came from something Duane said in an interview shortly before he was killed. When asked what he was doing to help the revolution, Duane replied, ‘There ain’t no revolution, it’s evolution, but every time I’m in Georgia I eat a peach for peace.’”)

The three other albums from that very good Top Ten list that would at least come close to any list I might make of essential albums are those by Neil Young, Paul Simon and the duo of Graham Nash and David Crosby. That last is likely a surprise entrant, but when I sort through the solo and duet records made by the various combinations of Crosby, Stills Nash & Young, Graham Nash/David Crosby sits near the top of the list just behind Stephen Stills and just ahead of Young’s Harvest and Comes A Time.

So what it is about Graham Nash/David Crosby that I admire? First of all, the musicianship, with Crosby and Nash joined by a cluster of players that included the recently departed Chris Etheridge on bass, Jerry Garcia on guitar and a host of recognizable studio players. Some of my regard for the album, which went to No. 4, is no doubt related to the times; the record, more than many others, reminds me of what life felt like in 1972. And then there are the songs, ranging from Crosby’s searching and inspiring “Where Will I Be/Page 43” to one of Nash’s best: “Southbound Train.”

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6 Responses to “Nine Out Of Ten”

  1. Larry Grogan Says:

    That’s a very solid week there!

  2. Yah Shure Says:

    Thanks for the “Southbound Train” post. I’d bought the single unheard, but was never knocked out by it until now. Wonder how a full-on Hollies treatment would have turned out?

    In researching its old surveys, I was surprised to discover that Humble Pie had been somewhat popular at my college station, since I never recalled hearing the group played there. Must’ve been those party animals doing the station’s Saturday night ‘Hellbound Train’ show.

    “Sweet Martha” from ‘Eat A Peach’ was one of those classic early-’70s KQRS tracks whose title rang no bell, yet was instantly familiar when I dug out my promo copy of the LP for its first-ever spin a year or two ago. Not sure I’d ever have the patience to sit through the whole “Mountain Jam” though.

    On an unrelated note, I was saddened to read of Bobby Vee’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis on the St. Cloud Times website. Am wishing him and his family the best.

  3. whiteray Says:

    @ Yah Shure: I thought about “Sweet Martha” as well when I saw “Eat A Peach” listed. But the memory that came to me was using “Sweet Martha” as the theme to a fictitious radio show that I created for my radio production course at St. Cloud State. And because the tune reminds me of my generally lacking production skills, I decided to go with “Mountain Jam” today.

  4. ‘And At No. 53 . . .’ « Echoes In The Wind Says:

    […] Echoes In The Wind Hear that music in the distance? So do I. « Nine Out Of Ten […]

  5. Paco Malo Says:

    That Humble Pie album you never owned kicked ass — a very unique sound. It wasn’t an “even” album, but “Thirty Days in the Hole” rocked my teenage socks off, when I had some on.

    I just made an Allman Bros. mix CD two weeks ago. “Sweet Martha” went right up front. I never get tired of that golden nugget.

  6. David Lenander Says:

    I agree with you that the Nash/Crosby record is one of the best CSNY alumni releases. Of course, I loved the first solo Nash & Crosby releases, too, and never thought that either ever managed anything as good again, especially Nash with BEGINNERS. My favorite song from this record, though, was Crosby’s “The Wall Song.” I liked “Southbound Train,” and didn’t recall it had been a single–the big hit from the LP was “Immigration Man,” which I liked, but less than most of the album. I remember typing up the lyrics to the whole album and realizing that Nash had structured this song around the slogan of the French revolution, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” Mary Travers covered “Train” on her 3rd LP, ALL MY CHOICES. I don’t remember other covers.

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