Various Artists

Top of the Pops: Best of 1972

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With its contents drawn from the seven albums released over the previous 12 months, Top of the Pops: Best of 1972 flirts around the year's biggest smashes with as much becoming as the year itself had. From the Coke-swilling charms of the New Seekers' "I'd Love to Teach the World to Sing," performed with even greater teeth-gritting purity than the original, to Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Clair," beautifully rendered by Top of the Pops regular Ken Gold, Top of the Pops: Best of 1972 stands as living testimony to the jukebox paradise that was 1972. Years simply didn't get any better than this. As usual with the early-'70s Top of the Pops albums, the rockers fare better than the ballads -- listeners cringe past a toe-curling "Without You," but T. Rex's "Telegram Sam" and "Metal Guru" are electrifying, even if the vocals still can't quite catch the Bolan quaver. Slade's "Mama Weer Orl Crazee Now" is a dead ringer for all that Oasis would do to "Cum on Feel the Noize" two-plus decades later, and Chicory Tip's "Son of My Father" is a veritable wonderland of burbling synthesizers and robotic drums, marking the debut of the vocalist whose name would become synonymous with the Top of the Pops series for the next five years, Tony Rivers. Intriguingly, and with deliciously nepotistic synchronicity, it is Rivers' own eight-year-old son, Anthony Rivers, who doubles for Little Jimmy Osmond on a night-terror-inducing rendition of "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool." Elsewhere, sibling Donny Osmond's first U.K. hit, "Puppy Love," is executed not by a lone impersonator, but by two -- singers John Perry and Martha Smith, flawlessly double-tracked to re-create all the angst of an adolescent straining for the high notes. The team acquits themselves well, too, across the year's greatest novelty smashes: Lt. Pigeon's barrelhouse instrumental "Mouldy Old Dough" and Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-Ling" -- which actually sounds even more suggestive here than on the original recording.

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