On The Air In Tucson In Early ’72

Having dabbled over the last ten days in what was happening in the Billboard album and easy listening charts as 1971 eased into 1972, I thought we’d visit the Airheads Radio Survey Archive and see what the well-appointed progressive station was offering its listeners fifty years ago this week.

These were the hit albums at KWFM in Tucson, Arizona, this week in 1972:

R.E.O. Speedwagon
E Pluribus Funk
by Grand Funk Railroad
In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
Off The Shelf
by Batdorf & Rodney
Synergy by Glass Harp
Detroit
Muswell Hillbillies
by the Kinks
The Hills Of Indiana by Lonnie Mack
Shake Off The Demon by Brewer & Shipley
IV by Led Zeppelin

There’s some obscure – at least to me – stuff there. The album Detroit is subtitled “With Mitch Ryder.” The group turns out to be one Ryder put together in 1969 with Johnny Badanjek, who’d been the drummer when Ryder had fronted the Detroit Wheels. Detroit, released in 1971. was the group’s only release during the band’s existence; a live performance from April 1972 was released in 1997. A 1987 CD re-release of the album – I think – is available as one video at YouTube; a quick sampling finds about what you’d expect from Ryder: straight-ahead rock, with one of the 1987 bonus tracks being a cover of “Gimme Shelter” that starts off with an extended acoustic introduction and shifts without warning to a thrumming, pulsing workout.

The Glass Harp album listed here is also a mystery to me. It’s the group’s second release; I have the first, self-titled, release on the digital shelves, It’s pretty mellow, from what I can tell, but I’ve not spent much time with it. In digging through some references, I see the group – from Youngstown, Ohio – listed as “Christan folk-rock,” which is likely true, as one of its members was Phil Keaggy, later a major player in the world of contemporary Christian music. You can find Synergy in various forms at YouTube, as well.

The Hills Of Indiana by Lonnie Mack is the third album from that list that’s a little bit of a mystery. The website discogs lists the album as folk rock and country rock, which seems to make sense: I somehow have the title track on the shelves here, and it’s a nice bit of mellow nostalgia that sounds like a thousand other songs from the time period. The album can be pieced together from separate videos at YouTube.

The fourth album on KWFM’s top ten that might be obscure is In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster. The album somehow ended up on the digital shelves here, and it’s pretty jazzy, from what I remember (and from some quick smidgen listens this morning), reminiscent, I think, of the first album by Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Batdorf and Rodney might be obscure to others, but I know their stuff: pleasant folk-rock that – like the Mack track – sounds like the work of a thousand other groups from the early 1970s.

Both the Atomic Rooster and Batdorf and Rodney albums can be found at YouTube as well, the first as a full album and the second – it appears – as separate files.

The rest of the top ten from KWFM fifty years ago this week is familiar, perhaps even predictable. My favorite would be Shake Off The Demon by Brewer & Shipley. And here’s what might be the quintessential track from the early Seventies: Brewer & Shipley’s “Back To The Farm.”

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