Friday, 26 April 2019

Bread - Bread (1969)


  

Released September 1969

This album was a real surprise to me, as, for many years, I had (misguidedly) viewed Bread as a somewhat wishy-washy student bedroom band, full of gentle melodies and earnest, lovelorn lyrics. This album, from the very late sixties, sort of contradicts that, showing first of all that they could certainly play (the musicianship and sound quality is uniformly excellent), and secondly that they had considerable rock sensibilities in there. The album was a veritable pioneer in Californian country/folk-ish soft rock. The Byrds were heading this way, and Crosby, Stills and Nash too, of course. In the wake of these artists would come the excellent America and the genre would spread out to include some aspects of the music of The Doobie Brothers and the early Eagles.

Bread also were quite Beatles-influenced, in their McCartney-ish lyrics and melodies at times and in the Ringo Starr-esque drumming. Their vocals are wonderfully harmonious, often falsetto from David Gates, and the acoustic guitars clear and sharp. The electric guitar is subtly riffy and the bass beautifully subtle.

There are no well-known Bread songs on here in the "Baby I'm A Want You"/"I Want To Make It With You" category, but there is some beautiful, laid-back material and some deceptively rocking fare too, admittedly very much in a breezy late sixties style.

TRACK LISTING

1. Dismal Day
2. London Bridge
3. Could I
4. Look At Me
5. The Last Time
6. Any Way You Want Me
7. Move Over
8. Don't Shut Me Out
9. You Can't Measure The Cost
10. Family Doctor
11. It Don't Matter To Me
12. Friends And Lovers                                

"Dismal Day" features a strange high-pitched vocal from David Gates, but is also an appealing, lively hippy-ish track. "London Bridge" is very Beatles-esque, with that instantly recognisable Ringo Starr-style drumming. "Could I" has a great piano and percussion intro and a very late sixties vocal feel to it. It sounds very representative of its era. The electric guitar on it is superb. "Look At Me" is a very hippy, dreamy acoustic number. This was very much the period of the "serious", contemplative song. This is a fine example of it.


The rocky "The Last Time" shows a distinct sixties inventiveness borrowed from psychedelia, slightly. "Anyway You Want Me" is pleasantly driven by its electric guitar riffs and upbeat drums. Its vocal is stronger, more direct, too. Lovely guitar/drum interplay in the middle as well. "Move Over" is one of the album's rockiest, powerful numbers, driven along by some great drums and fuzzy electric guitar. Great stuff. Most underrated and misjudged. Turn this up and you can feel the band's power. This is Bread, remember. The rock continues on the cowbell-driven rhythm of the catchy "Don't Shut Me Out".

"You Can't Measure The Cost" is an airy, acoustic and harmonious America-style ballad that moves on to include a deliciously heavy bass line. "Family Doctor" has strong echoes of The Band all over it, and Crosby, Stills & Nash too. Check out those harmonies on "It Don't Matter To Me". Beautiful. Add to those the freaky, buzzy electric guitar interjections and you have a great song. "Friends And Lovers" is a pleasantly enigmatic and infectiously catchy folky rock number. There is no way that this album should be dismissed as romantic, drippy pop (Bread were, it seems, very unfairly labelled in that respect). This is a highly credible, truly worthy late sixties album full of songs and musicianship of the highest quality. I really like this album.

B+

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