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Mother Lode
Loggins And Messina

Columbia 33175
Released: October 1974
Chart Peak: #8
Weeks Charted: 29
Certified Gold: 11/25/74

On Mother Lode, the taste and imaginativeness that marked Loggins and Messina's satisfying first album, Sittin' In, have been partially restored. While it's true that neither Loggins nor Messina has yet managed to express himself in song or singing with any sizeable intensity, the two here at least have the sense to stay unobtrusively melodic through their up-front segments. These actually just serve as interludes joining the pieces of what is clearly this album's meat: the instrumental music of an engagingly sophisticated band. A Messina tune with the dubious-sounding title of "Be Free" contains the record's most exciting section, a vibrant, cascading passage -- built around Messina's insinuating bouzouki-like mandolin work -- that's a good deal more eloquent than the sum total of the platitudes that litter the lyrics of both writers.

Loggins and Messina - Mother Lode
Original album advertising art.
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The reeds of Al Garth and Jon Clarke stand out dramatically now that they've been freed from the formulated texturizing of earlier L&M albums. In general, the group seems to have been inspired by the daring of another successful L.A.-based radio band, Steely Dan -- realizing at last, perhaps, that you don't have to be simplistic to sell records.

- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 1-30-75.

Bonus Reviews!

This is another well thought out album by one of America's most popular bands. Each tune features a different quality. Because the group is a self-contained unit of rhythm and horns, they are capable of reproducing each tone almost exactly the same in concert. Musically, this six-man band is getting tighter and tighter and the vocals of each group leader are different, but complementary to one another. Several of the tunes are almost certain to garner commercial appeal and overall this record sure will enhance their reputation for putting out appealing and danceable material. One of the group's most fortunate attributes is the presence of its versatile musicians. Because of this they are able to pull off soft material utilizing a violin and flute, as well as more rocking numbers using a rich array of horns. This is definitely one of America's premier groups. Best cuts: "Growing," "Changes," "Brighter Days," "Time To Space," "Lately My Love."

- Billboard, 1974.

By jove, I think I've isolated the Two Guys Syndrome. Perhaps you've noticed: male duets that are technically pretty good seem to evolve into something so damned serious and formal they become a royal pain. There's the latter-day Seals and Crofts fining religious significance in every cliché they can think of and dress up with esoteric mandolin noodlings... Brewer and Shipley off saving the world through organic farming... even Gallagher and Lyle starting to Behave Responsibly and file away their edge. Loggins and Messina have been developing style -- at least a sound of their own -- but this particular sound seems to grow duller the more they polish it. Mother Lode, in fact, seems about fully automated. I'm sure a lot of thought went into it; I wish I could find some evidence that feeling did. My head tells me the sax break in "Move On" is well done, that Messina's guitar leads throughout are as tasteful as whoever helps Peter Cuchin pick out his ties, and that Loggins' scattered solo vocal work has grown almost as good as that of the real Danny O'Keefe, but my head does not rule the roost here. The songs don't grab me. They're too polite to grab anything. Nor does the idea of precision for the sake of precision grab me. Maybe Psychology Today could take the Two Guys Syndrome and do something -- which is to say talk -- about it. It would get the magazine's mind off sex for a while. Of course, just listening to this kind album will do that.

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 4/75.

From its brown-toned cover to its contents, Loggins & Messina's fourth studio album is a sober, low-key, reflective affair. The band's music, with its single flute, violin and horn lines, directed by Messina's intricate guitar and mandolin playing, serves a series of midtempo tunes expressing a lot of quiet dissatisfaction signalled by titles like "Be Free," "Changes," and "Move On." As usual in a Jim Messina production, all of this is elegantly, tastefully accomplished, but one could hardly come away from the record feeling that all was well in the L&M camp. * * *

- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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