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Loggins and Messina
Columbia 31748
Released: October 1972
Chart Peak: #16
Weeks Charted: 61
Certified Platinum: 11/21/86

Jim MessinaKenny LogginsThis album is long overdue. Running the gamut from wailing Fifties-tinged rock to purring ballads, it will make a believer out of even the most hardened counter-counter culturist.

Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina have good reason to smile at us from their first album as a confirmed supergroup. Their last effort together was intended as a showcase for Loggins, with producer Messina playing and singing along on the sessions. They didn't even consider themselves a real duo, listing themselves instead as Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina. The result was a gem of an album, inventive and eclectic, though most critics tended to focus on Messina's country-rock tunes -- echoes of his days as a founding member of Poco. On tour to promote the album, L&M and friends turned out to be a tight unit which could improvise the pants off of just about any band around. Hence Loggins and Messina's permanent coupling.

Loggins and Messina
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
As prime practitioners of rock classicism, they place their stamp on original material inspired by the wide variety of styles which gave birth to the music. The first time I heard their current single, "Your Mama Don't Dance," I could have sworn it had been resurrected straight out of the Fifties musical graveyard. The song's slippin' sloppy guitar break would have made Chuck Berry proud. Producer Messina has learned his lessons well; on "Thinking Of You" he intimates the Latino rhythm of the Diamond's "Little Darling" and the vocal harmonies of Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl," but the sound is uniquely his own.

As veterans of the rock scene, Loggins and Messina take a wry view of their environment. "Holiday Hotel" recounts a tale of the bad karma that is the bane of every touring musician's existence, while "Whiskey" sweetly laments that you can't sing anything pretty at L.A.'s teeny haven. A short, sprightly country-pickin' tune seemingly meant to infiltrate the hard-bound definitions of format radio has been given the title "Just Before the News." At one minute and six seconds, it's a station programmer's dream.

Now that Jim Messina is performing regularly again, he has taken the opportunity on this album to exorcise another ghost from his past, Buffalo Springfield (he produced and played bass on Last Time Around) -- and by extension, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. "Good Friend" features a Steve Stills-ish gliding guitar in the kind of soul setting Messina has always wanted to create. "Golden Ribbons," a mournful ten-years-after sequel to "Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall," embroiders some rich CSN&Y harmonies, including a Stills-like vocal, over a very contemporary lyric: "What does it avail a man/To gain a fortune and lose his soul?"

Kenny Loggins continues to contribute whimsy and softness to the team with "Long Tail Cat," a rockin' chair song that blossoms into a minstrel-show tune complete with spoons and fiddle, as well as the tender "Till the Ends Meet" and the Bossa Nova-accented "Lady of My Heart." On the album's last cut, "Angry Eyes," L&M let out all the stops for a long excursion into jazz -- the forte of saxophonist Al Garth and drummer Merel Bregante. Michael Omartian also deserves special mention for his tasty keyboard work throughout the album.

To call Loggins and Messina one of the best albums of 1972 would do nothing to convey its brilliance, but it might provide some with the banal reinforcement they need to give it the one listening it takes to get hooked.

- Steve Ditlea, Rolling Stone, 4/12/73.

Bonus Reviews!

The who-influenced-whom questions this album raises are so complex I almost want to forget the whole thing. Almost. Jim Messina writes a song ("Golden Ribbons") that sounds an awful lot like Steve Stills' work for Crosby, Stills and Nash, and plays electric guitar in a style disturbingly similar to the almost-Eastern-flavored decorations Stills fashions for CSN. But Messina and Stills come from the same place -- the Buffalo Springfield -- and I can't recall the Buff's influence on splinter groups without thinking of Neil Young's influence on the Buff.

Egad. Well, anyhow, there's Kenny Loggins, whose writing and singing styles show their own -- differently colored -- brush strokes. However original or unoriginal the sound is, it's a pretty good sound. Loggins has the more colorful voice, but he's better off, in the long run, with the ballast of Messina's cool technique than he would be solo. The album's main problem for me was that the songs peaked too early -- all but a couple are fairly strong in the way one measures songs, but none really has that unmeasurable spark one hopes for. Few duos could do better with this material. Loggins and Messina are growing fast.

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 5/73.

The simple rightness of this production and the arrangements, plus the positive, joyous statement that they make presents itself as a delightful alternative to today's musical diet of heavy bands and some weak lyricists. The writing and singing credits are rather equally distributed. Due respect must be paid to the source of much of the excitement that is created by their band. Oddly enough there is a more evident Buffalo Springfield feel here, especially on "Golden Ribbons" and "Angry Eyes."

- Billboard, 1972.

The first Loggins-Messina LP held all the promise that this one fulfills. However, as good as this group is now (and they're plenty good), I think they've only begun to scratch the surface of what they're going to do in the future. How can they miss? Without question, Messina is one of the most important talents of this era. His compositions "Golden Ribbons" and "Angry Eyes" are the two stand-outs on this album. On the former he does one of the best vocals of his career while the latter contains a Messina guitar solo that will lift you right out of your chair. Jon Clarke plays some really fine flute on "Ribbons" and "Eyes," and Al Garth's searing alto chorus on "Eyes" is outstanding, too.

One of Loggins' fortes is in writing pretty melodies and there are three represented here, "Till The Ends Meet," "Lady Of My Heart," and "Don't Do Anything Mellow At The Whiskey." "Lady" features some outstanding percussion work by Milt Holland, but in all fairness to Kenny, I've heard him do this song with no accompaniment but his own guitar and it stands up equally well that way. Kenny wrote "Mellow" after he and Jimmy spent an evening at the noisy Sunset Strip rock nitery and began imagining what a bummer it would be to play there with their type band.

Everybody gets a chance to work out on "Holiday Hotel," a light and bouncy thing Jimmy and Al wrote that almost sounds like a throwaway until you listen again. (Since I heard them rehearse this for several hours one afternoon, I got that chance.) They've been doing "You're Mama Don't Dance" in their performances since the group was first assembled. It's their adaptation of an old sing-a-long standard called (I think) "Mama Don't Allow." They get a really nice happy feeling on this, although the recording doesn't capture what they do with it in person. Rusty Young's Dobro is added on "Long Tail Cat," a bit of gentle humor from Kenny.

The combination of the Loggins-Messina abilities represents one of the best couplings of talent since the heyday of Lennon-McCartney. There are times when their voices blend with such uncanny perfection (the last chorus of "I Had A Good Friend" is a good example) of vocal tone, timbre and phrasing, it's almost as if both voices are coming from the same mind. Their undeniable musical rapport is one of this group's greatest strengths. Another is the high calibre musicianship of all the band members. With the right people behind them, Loggins and Messina could become the next American supergroup.

- Jan Gautschy, Word & Music, 1/73.

The first full-fledged L&M album found the duo in good form as songwriters, with Messina turning in the sparkling "Thinking Of You" and the two collaborating on the hit single "Your Mama Don't Dance" and "Angry Eyes." Their backup band was anchored by multi-instrumentalist Al Garth and also featured keyboardist Michael Omartian and Poco steel guitarist Rusty Young. * * * *

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

Loggins & Messina, the duo's sophomore effort, has the tiresome single "Your Mama Don't Dance" but also the studio version of "Angry Eyes." * * *

- Patrick McCarty, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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