Bread paved the way for the soft rock sound that would dominate American airwaves in the early 70’s with ‘Guitar Man’ being a signature recording.
Written by: Eric
ALBUM: Guitar Man
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: David Gates – vocals, guitar, bass, moog, violin * James Griffin – vocals, guitar, piano * Larry Knetchel – piano, bass, organ, harmonica, guitar, keyboards * Mike Botts – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Welcome To The Music * 02 The Guitar Man * 03 Make It By Yourself * 04 Aubrey * 05 Fancy Dancer * 06 Sweet Surender * 07 Tecolote * 08 Let Me Go * 09 Yours For Life * 10 Picture In Your Mind * 11 Don’t Tell Me No * 12 Didn’t Even Know Her Name
Like The Carpenters, Bread paved the way for the soft rock sound that would dominate American airwaves in the early 70’s. Formed in Los Angeles in 1968, and pioneering the love ballad genre, Bread’s singles ‘Make It With You’, ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’ and ‘Everything I Own’ remain staples on classic rock and ‘oldies’ stations to this day.
True to life, all the successes in the world couldn’t fix the brooding issues between head song writer and crooner David Gates and guitarist James Griffin. Griffin it seems was more than a little teed off that Gates tunes were consistently released as ‘A’ side singles while his tunes took a back seat and by the time Bread left the studio following their fifth album ‘Guitar Man’ the handwriting was on the wall and Bread was no more.
Ironic isn’t it? Given the albums name and the title track written by Gates would become one of their biggest hits. One would think this was a way to appease Griffin, but it was not to be. The tune itself is a sentimental ode to guitar heroes everywhere with dreams of stardom and is definitely the highlight of the record. Gates was one of the most prolific writers of his era and a master of balladry and story telling and here he excels.
Two further examples of his talents are ‘Aubrey’ and ‘Sweet Surrender’ both of which were released as singles and became Top 40 hits. It has to be said that while the remaining tunes on ‘Guitar Man’ are good in particular ‘Don’t Tell Me No’ which was co-written by Griffin and former Bread member Robb Royer, they just don’t cut the mustard against Gates talent for melody and ear for a great tune.
Bread would reunite in 1976, releasing ‘Lost Without Your Love’ in 1977. Another hit single and tour followed although half way through, Griffin again decided to call it a day with Bread. That same year Griffin released a decent solo album ‘James Griffin’ and is worth seeking out.
But it’s his 1974 record ‘Breakin Up Is Easy’ and his 1982 release with The Hollies‘ Terry Sylvester Griffin & Sylvester that should be in every home. Sadly Griffin passed away of Cancer in 2005 and while following the band’s break-up David Gates went on to a successful solo career with ‘Goodbye Girl’, nothing matched the success and soft rock magic that was Bread.