Thursday, December 28, 2017
Bread were unfairly written off as insubstantial peddlers of soft rock when compared to their contemporaries, though the quartet that gave birth to that beautifully crafted, eponymously titled first album were all very accomplished writers/musicians. Signed to Elektra Records, label head Jac Holzman oversaw production and Bruce Botnick (who engineered all of The Doors classic LPs and co-produced LA Woman) was behind the board for this timeless debut.
Side one is immaculate, leading off with the one-two punch of “Dismal Day” and “London Bridge”, both composed by David Gates, whose lead vocals would become a signature part of their sound. He split writing duties with charter members Jim Griffin and Robb Royer. The fourth player involved was session drummer Jim Gordon who anchors everything with precision, giving the material a feel and groove at least three summers ahead of their peers. All lyrical subject matter neatly avoids the trappings of the era, with a focus on tightly edited pop/rock. No sprawling, tedious jams find their way into the program, though hooks and melodies definitely take priority. Other highlights include “The Last Time” and “It Don’t Matter to Me” which are the best Griffin/Royer compositions in the pack. While the second side of the disc isn’t as strong as what precedes it, the tunes still maintain the high standard of the overall set. ”It Don’t Matter to Me” finishes as one of the most delicately rendered pieces, featuring brilliant harmonies and Gates gently scraping the stratosphere with his lead vocal. Not satisfied with it remaining as a very worthy sleeper cut, the strength of this beauty moved the group to re-record it and issue it as a single the following year. The fall of 1969 saw some major releases hit the shops with Abbey Road, Led Zeppelin II and Let It Bleed all coming out within the same timeframe. Bread acquitted themselves well, considering the competition. Overshadowed somewhat by the heavy hitters of that period, this quiet masterpiece holds up nearly fifty years on.