Dismal Day/London Bridge/Could I/Look At Me/The Last Time/Any Way You Want Me/Move Over/Don't Shut Me Out/You Can't Measure The Cost/Family Doctor/It Don't Matter To Me/Friends And Lovers
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.
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.
On The Waters (1970)
Why Do You Keep Me Waiting/Make It With You/Blue Satin Pillow/Look What You've Done/I Am That I Am/Been Too Long On The Road/I Want You With Me/Coming Apart/Easy Love/In The Afterglow/Call On Me/The Other Side Of Life
Bread became instantly more well-known with this, their second album, due to the huge hit Make It With You, although this album is one that provides many different sounding tracks to that one. It is quite a rock album, in its hippy Californian warm but airy sound and vague psychedelic influences appearing here and there. It is very Crosby, Stills and Nash-influenced and laid foundations for groups like America to follow. I should imagine many who bought the album on the back of Make It With You may have been slightly disappointed in its hippy rock earnestness and, at times, quite heavy passages. Not me, though, I think it's great. A most underrated gem. It is, though, quite a dense, serious album, despite its West Coast inherent sunny disposition. Personally, I prefer the group's debut album. It is Bread's equivalent of The Doors' Waiting For The Sun, quite experimental and uncommercial in places. Of course, this is not a full-on rock record, but it is certainly not an album of slushy, acoustic ballads. Far from it.
Why Do You Keep Me Waiting is an upbeat, rocking number to begin with, with hints of Neil Diamond's early material in its vaguely Latin strummed riff. Its changes of pace and rock rhythms are redolent of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Make It With You is, of course, the song that really made it big for Bread and tended to make people pigeonhole them. You can't deny its laid-back, hot Californian summery sound is completely intoxicating. A classic of its type. Blue Satin Pillow has a big, heavy rock riff and a typically early seventies rock feel, with airs of Cat Stevens in its vocal, for me. Beatles harmonies are in there too.
Look What You've Done had a riff that sounded like a prototype of the later Guitar Man at the beginning. When it breaks out into its "rock" passages, its is truly uplifting. It almost goes a bit proggy in its organ sound. I Am That I Am also continues that proggy, pace-changing sound. It reminds me slightly of Ringo Starr's It Don't Come Easy at times.
Been Too Long On The Road has that Marrakesh Express breezy, harmonious feel to it and features some killer electric guitar over a quirky, staccato beat. I Want You With Me has a haunting air to its beguiling, gentle vocal, over its gently melodic bass line. This is something approaching what The Beach Boys were trying to achieve during the same period, and sometimes coming up short. This album gets it right, in my opinion, anyway.
Coming Apart is a very CSN-style appealing, tuneful rocker. Like lots of the material it is very typical of its era. Easy Love begins with a Byrds-style jangly guitar and has a lovely vocal and drum sound. In The Afterglow is a very McCartney-esque song, with those Beatles drums again. Call On Me has Bread going a little blues rock-ish. It has hints of The Beatles' Come Together and is very Lennon-influenced. The album ends with the low-key, gentle The Other Side Of Life. This is an album that deserves more than a few listens. It has hidden depths.
Let Your Love Go/Take Comfort/Too Much Love/If/Be Kind To Me/He's A Good Lad/She Was My Lady/Live In Your Love/What A Change/I Say Again/Come Again/Truckin'
It is popularly thought that Bread were a slow, acoustic-based band that delivered slushy romantic songs. Sure, they did a few of those, but it is often forgotten that they could actually rock quite hard. Their brand of country-ish rock packed a harder punch than their notable contemporaries CSN, CSNY, The Byrds and America. There was a fair amount of solid riffing, and muscular drums around on many of their tracks. In my opinion, Bread have always been a bit unfairly maligned and pigeonholed. This is largely an upbeat album of quite strident country-influenced, typically early seventies rock. It is quality easy listening rock.
Let Your Love Go is an upfront, rocking number to begin with, while Take Comfort starts with some solid guitar riffing and thumping drums. It moves into a dreamy, hippy-ish slow part in the middle, before returning to the buzzy guitar. Like much of their material at the time, there are vague proggy aspects to it. Too Much Love is a laid-back country-ish rocker with a delicious bass line and a distinct Beatles influence in places.
If is the archetypal Bread track that many know them for - a gentle melody, a sensitive lyric and David Gates' melodic, almost angelic voice soaring high above it. Rhythmic rock is back for the next one, however, with the appealing, bluesy groove of Be Kind To Me. He's A Good Lad is a very CSNY-esque plaintive number. She Was My Lady rocks gently, tunefully and captivatingly. It features some excellent guitar soloing. Unfortunately it ends too soon. Live In Your Love is a McCartney-esque rock ballad that just reminds me of Wings.
What A Change has those airy, sweet uplifting CSNY harmonies once more. I Say Again is another one in that style too. The Ringo Starr-influenced drums and their interplay with the bass is lovely. Come Again continues the sensitive, thoughtful balladry. It has some beautiful piano and strings in its backing, underpinned by some subtle electric guitar. Just at the tempo had slowed down a bit we end the album with the roadhouse rollicking of Truckin', as Bread go all Doobie Brothers/early Eagles.
This is a beautifully even-tempered warm wind of an album that cannot help but relax you while lifting your spirits at the same time.
Baby I'm A Want You (1972)
Mother Freedom/Baby I'm A Want You/Down On My Knees/Everything I Own/Nobody Like You/Diary/Dream Lady/Daughter/Games Of Magic/This Isn't What The Governmeant/Just Like Yesterday/I Don't Love You
For many, this was Bread's best album, containing two of their biggest hits and successfully merging sensitive ballads with some deceptively hard rocking cuts. It shows that they were more than just slushy pop balladeers, despite the perfection of their tracks that fit that particular bill. This is an eminently listenable example of early seventies Californian rock.
Mother Freedom is a powerful rocker with some killer buzzsaw guitar. Baby I'm A Want You is known to many, it's great. Lovely vocal, lovely atmosphere, lovely bass line. Just a perfect easy rock song. So wonderfully early seventies. A Byrds-esque jangly guitar riff introduces Down On My Knees. The track rocks from beginning to end in a seventies-era Fleetwood Mac style. Everything I Own is, of course, beautiful. As a reggae fan, I always associate this song with the Ken Boothe 1974 cover that hit number one in the UK, but this is the original. It is moving, sensitive and timeless. When that chorus kicks in - oh yes.
Nobody Like You is an Elton John-esque piano-driven rock/blues rousing rocker. Yes, Bread could do bar-room rock too and sing about "having a fight" without sounding strange. Diary is thoughtful and moving. Dream Lady has some of Bread's regular prog-rock influences as a swirling organ, heavy guitar and drums interplay dramatically. Daughter is another deceptively heavy rock ballad, with power chords and pounding piano, together with a convincingly strong, harmonious set of vocals.
Games Of Magic is a gentle, acoustic, sleepy and sensitive number. Now, up next Bread get all political, for the first time, on This Isn't What The Governmeant, a rousing country style questioning of the rule-makers of the time. Just Like Yesterday is a lovely, stately and inspiring song. The gruff, mid-pace rock of I Don't Love You is a surprisingly acidic end to the album. There is more Elton John about this, for me.
If you like West Coast early seventies rock mixed with some classic rock ballads played with seriously good musicianship then you can't go far wrong with this. A classic of its genre.
The Sound Of Bread
In the seventies I was never into Bread like many were (usually girls). I saw this as very much wishy-washy student (usually members of the Christian Union) bedroom fare. As many, many years have passed by, my attitudes have matured, thankfully, and I view their music in a totally different light.
It is all very typically early seventies stuff - clear, airy, breezy vocals (in the style of America and many other country rock groups), razor sharp, melodic acoustic guitars, gentle bass rhythms, tuneful lead guitar and rhythmic but understated drums. The sound quality on this atmospheric, nostalgic collection does the group's excellent musicianship justice. There are hints of CSNY swirling around and some Beatles influence also. Many of the tracks are surprisingly upbeat and rhythmic, gently rocking. It is not all contemplative romantic material. The cover is pretty uninspiring, though, isn't it?
Everyone knows the beguiling opener, Make It With You, with its entrancing, evocative vocal. It is a timeless classic. 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 Ringo Starr-style drumming. 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. The bass on Look What You've Done is just beautiful and when the song breaks out into the "rock" bit, it is quite gloriously uplifting. Check out those harmonies on It Don't Matter To Me. Beautiful.
There are so many (for me) undiscovered gems on here, apart from the well-known hits. Another one is the harmonious and rocky The Last Time. Let Your Love Go rocks more than I ever thought Bread could. It is sort of Doobie Brothers meets America with even a touch of Status Quo in the riff and the vocals. The percussion is absolutely sublime. The rock continues on the infectious country rock of Truckin'. I love this one. These have been some surprising rockers.
If is a plaintive track most people know. This is the original, not the awful version Telly Savalas took to number one in the mid seventies. The America-esque and totally gorgeous Baby I'm A Want You was as big a hit as it totally deserved to be. Then we get the sublime Everything I Own, although as a long-time reggae fan, I always associate it with Ken Boothe. It is a true classic, either way. Time to rock again, with the Fleetwood Mac-ish Down On My Knees. Just Like Yesterday has some excellent instrumentation. Bread could play, something that is often forgotten. This may sound completely bonkers, but this has all the ingredients of an Ian Hunter/Mott The Hoople ballad. No? Just one of my strange ideas. It also reminds me of Clifford T. Ward's Wherewithal. Is that more like it?
Diary is a gentle, acoustic, bedsit-ish sensitive number, in a sort of Al Stewart (early seventies era) way. Sweet Surrender is a lovely mid-tempo laid-back number with some great guitar. Guitar Man was another huge hit, again quite rightly, it is packed with both instrumental and vocal hooks. Fancy Dancer is a surprisingly funky-ish groover. She's The Only One is a delightful country-ish number with an Eagles feel to it. Lost Without Your Love is what I imagined an archetypal Bread song was, actually, listening to this, I realise I was completely wrong. I really enjoyed this. Who would have thought it?