1972 was the year I became conscious. By that I mean that from age six onwards I have more of a narrative memory than from the time before. 1972 was the year I started school (getting one of those huge cylindrical things filled with sweets), became interested in the news (I remember following the Munich massacre), TV was great (Star Trek, Hitparade, Partridge Family, Sergeant Percy, Der Bastian), and I kicked off my fascination with the English language, thanks to the transmission of US episodes of Sesame Street (shown in West Germany to test whether parents would accept such a revolutionary TV concept). My love affair with the English language would not find expression for another five years, but Big Bird, Oscar and Ernie (and Gordon and Susan and Bob) sowed a seed. And I was in Kiel during the sailing segment of the Olympic Games. Sounds grandiose, but I don't remember seeing any sailing boats, only the hotel and my mother buying me a book about Sammy the seal.
1972 was a happy year. I wish I could go back there with Dr Ronald Mallet's time machine and revisit what I'm sure was a sunny year. Trouble is, I'd not be six anymore, and see 1972 for the wretched year it most probably was.
Sweet - Poppa Joe.mp3
My mother bought the single, but my little brother and I played it to death. Usually after having our bath, or so my memory tells me. At the time I had no interest in the performers' identity (and the characters on the cover were not so impressive as to remember their collective name). So when the far superior "Blockbuster" and "Ballroom Blitz" came out, the songs registered, but not the group's name. Before too long, I would become obsessive about such things.
Chicago - Saturday In The Park.mp3
I grew up with the Peter Cetera incarnation of Chicago, the soft rockers who gave us "If You Leave Me Now". I was obviously oblivious of the jazz influenced group which could rock as hard as anyone (just listen to "25 or 6 To 4"). Then, in the late '80s, I played a greatest hits compilation. On came "Saturday In The Park", and it was1972 all over again. I don't know why this might have been so; the song evidently was not a big hit in West Germany and my mother certainly didn't have the record. But somebody perhaps did: a sister, a neighbour (probably not my granny). And it is a great song, a good reply to those officers of the Taste Police who seek to smear Chicago's entire heritage by invoking only the Cetera years.
Tony Christie - (Is This The Way To) Amarillo.mp3
If I was I living in Britain, the revival of this song a couple of years ago would have diluted my happy memories of early 1972. It is a guilty pleasure kind of song. There is a notion that you cannot like "Amarillo" unless you do so "ironically". The thing is, those people who returned "Amarillo" to #1 in Britain did so under the collective cloak of irony when they really bought the idiot's version because they actually liked it. That is a coward's way of giving musical approval. So, without irony and without qualification other than the influence of nostalgia, I declare my affection for this song.
Daniel Boone - Beautiful Sunday.mp3
This is another chance discovery which beamed me back to my childhood. Finding it by total fluke a couple of years ago was like digging out a forgotten childhood toy. Like the silver Matchbox Maserati I used to have. When I played "Beautiful Sunday", South African-born Any Major Wife came rushing into the study, exclaiming: "When did I last hear this song?"
Dr Hook & the Medicine Show - Sylvia's Mother.mp3
I remember my elder brother making up his own German lyrics for "Sylvia's Mother", and he wasn't too far off the real thing. The tearful vocals are so convincing, few people understood the song as the piss-take it was intended to be. While writing this, I googled the lyrics. Now I know the good Doctor is addressing Mrs Avery. Will I still sing Mrs Apricot next time the song plays?
Gilbert O'Sullivan - Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day.mp3
Ah, Gilbert O'Sullivan. Elton John Lite. Well, let me fire off another mortar shell into the trenches of the Taste Police when I declare that I like O'Sullivan. Some of his songs I like for sentimental reasons (like this song, which cannot be admired for its innovative excellence), others I like because they are damn good songs ("Alone Again Naturally"). Hmmm, this sounds like I have albums by the guy in my collection, which I don't. Taste Police, hold fire!
Ulli Martin - Ich träume mit offenen Augen von Dir.mp3
The token Schlager for 1972. I might have added Vicky Leandros' plaintive "Ich hab' die Liebe geseh'n", but doubt anyone really needs it. I don't know if anyone needs Ulli Martin's epic either. And Udo Jürgens already had his shot in 1966-70, so no "Platz in der Sonne" for you. So Ulli it is by dint of confusing the not-yet-six-year-old me. Translated, the sing-title means "I'm dreaming of you with open eyes". How can you dream, ergo sleep, with open eyes? I could make no sense of Ulli's extraordinary claim.
Wayne Newton - Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast.mp3
This is a terrible song. If it's corn you crave, this could be your overdose. Even the vocals are terrible. And I didn't even know Wayne Newton's appalling warblings in 1972. So why am I including it here? Because I owned the German-language version of it, perpetrated by a Cuban singer named Roberto Blanco, who in the '70s filled the role of token black in the German entertainment industry. So the melody evokes 1972.
Mouth & McNeal - How Do You Do.mp3
I know there was a German version of this, because it featured on the German-language only Hitparade, but cannot recall who performed it. Possibly by Mouth & McNeal themselves, seeing as they were Dutch, and their compatriots enjoyed much success in Germany (as German Schlager singers did in the Netherlands). This is the English version. It is a record very much of its age, of course, but given the choice between Tony Orlando and Mouth & McNeal, what would you have chosen, and aren't you grateful I went for this?
Sammy Davis Jr - The Candy Man.mp3
You have to love this song. Especially when you're six and, as Jerry Seinfeld once explained, your life revolves around the pursuit for sweets. Granted, this is not the finest musical moment in the proud career of the great Sammy Davis Jr (that came with "I've Gotta Be Me" a few years previously), but it nonetheless caused many people, and advertising execs, happiness.
TV shows I loved in 1972:
Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo.mp3
Star Trek (Raumschiff Enterprise).mp3
And if I was in 1972 as I am now, my favourite album of the year would have been:
David Bowie - Sufragette City.mp3
David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust (demo).mp3