Archive for James Griffin

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Bread

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , on October 23, 2010 by 30daysout

1972 was a year of hard-rockin’: the Rolling Stones cut their classic Exile On Main Street, the Allman Brothers invited everyone to Eat A Peach and Rod Stewart promised Never A Dull Moment.   The Band, Led Zeppelin, the Kinks and Creedence Clearwater Revival still walked the earth.  But when it came to rockin’ the top of the pop charts, there was really nobody like Bread.

You might consider Bread to be some mellowed-out schmaltz for old hippies, but back in the day those mellifluously rockin’ hits could sink their sharp little hooks in your soft fleshy parts.  So get ready – today we’re spinning Baby I’m-A Want You, Bread’s fourth and most commercially successful album.

Bread was made up of four members who happened to be virtuoso musicians, and most of the lead vocals were handled by David Gates and James Griffin, who also wrote the lion’s share of the group’s songs.  In 1971 original bassist Robb Royer left and was replaced by another virtuoso, Larry Knechtel (who played the piano on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”).  This foursome started the Baby I’m-A Want You LP with a guitar rocker, “Mother Freedom.”   This is safe, middle-of-the-road rock: everything is very tastefully played and sung.

Then comes the title song, written and sung by Gates.  Today, as then, you could hear the enormous influence that Paul McCartney had on Gates’ work.  “Down On My Knees” doesn’t resemble the Beatles as much it does Badfinger; nevertheless, you can see the place Bread filled in the era’s pop music.  “Knees” is sung by Griffin, and it’s listed as a co-write between him and Gates.  There was some tension between the two, because Gates’ songs were usually chosen for the A-sides of the singles and those were the tunes that became big hits.

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