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The Best of Bread

Elektra 75056
Released: March 1973
Chart Peak: #2
Weeks Charted: 119
Certified Gold: 4/10/73

Bread has turned being lukewarm into an art form. Their 98.6 AM anthems are perfect to fall in love to, to skip school by, to make banks bearable, to live your life and make a point of having some fun. Doesn't matter how banal it is, because this is all lowest common denominator Malto Meal, which is what makes it unforgettable.

This album delivers in roundhouse roses -- it's exactly what the title claims, no tricks to turn into a fancy concept package, and no sloth resulting from inferior selection of songs. The album is so perfect, so compact, so endlessly listenable that it'll redeem your turntable even if you're still making 12 o'clock high signs with your snoot at the mere mention of AM radio.

They divided it into a rockin' side and a dreamy side. The former is notable for "Down on My Knees," which combines the guitar styles of early Love and early Beatles plus a pinch of the Who -- top that! "Too Much Love" is for Joan Baez fans and has a great Steve Stills middle section vocal which is better than Stills because it's mellower and not nearly as pompous.

"Let Your Love Go" has, in the lingo of Star magazine, some baad guitar. It burns, because it's pissed off: "I been tastin' the love you been waistin'!" No, it ain't about a blowjob. It's about how he rages, he burns, because his baby's passin' it out all over town. "Look What You've Done" has perfect sweet guitar and gentle remonstrance lyrics that counsel: "Finish what you've begun." Obviously it has nothing to do with Slade, though "Truckin'" certainly does. It begins with a string section right out of an old Shirley Temple movie, then surprises ya by churning up like a cattle-car: "Get outta my way!"

But the real payoff is side one, all those mellow yellow David Gates love ballads. "Make It With You" is the Seventies strawsippin' successor to "I Want to Hold Your Hand." It still melts my heart into a puddle of treacle. And that's because I'm treacle, not Bread; they're honchos!

"Diary" is a real masterpiece: all about this guy who finds the diary of a chick he's after under a tree, reads in there that she's in love so he thinks it's him. When he "confronts" her with it, she "pretends not to care," and he concludes that she's coquettish. Then he sees her marrying some other guy, realizes his tragic mistake and wishes them well. This song made me cry.

"Baby I'm a Want You" is an Italian-American anthem familiar to anyone who has ever been around an AM radio. "It Don't Matter to Me" is the same sublime brand of drifting, velvet rustling pop: That's what it makes my heart go. I'd dedicate this review to my girlfriend, except Our Record is The Stooges' Raw Power.

And they got plenty of sex in their songs too, don't let nobody tell you they're puds when they hit ya with lines like: "And when my life is running dry/You come and pour yourself on me." Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

- Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone, 5/24/73.

Bonus Review!

The soft sound of this band in the studio is presented collectively in what looms as a valid compilation of a stylistic pace-making act. David Gates' lead voice carries the melodies with a gentleness that is symbolic of the soft rock school of pop music. His associates, Mike Botts, James Griffin and Larry Knechtel, are a tight sounding support attack. This is their sixth LP. Best cuts: "Make It With You," "Baby I'm-A Want You," "It Don't Matter To Me."

- Billboard, 1973.

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