Friends & Lovers: Songs of Bread / Various
Those of us who grew up with songs of Bread might remember when 'The Guitar Man' or 'Make It With You' would randomly flow from the speakers of our parent's car. Maybe we weren't listening, because back then our favorite music came out of the back of an ice cream truck, but we heard it. As we grew more toward adolescence, our parents were still listening to the A.M. stations that continued to play songs of Bread. But we still didn't get it. Mostly because our older brothers, sisters, and various baby sitters were leaving different kinds of records on the floor for us to pick up and put on. The music of the cool older kids was full of crazy love and escapades that we envisioned to be as dramatic and dangerous as it sounded. But then, when we least expected it, we would turn the corner and run right into a Bread song. Boom! Admittedly, we listened for nostalgia's sake and/or petty irony, with some dismissing Bread as merely a guilty pleasure. But a few of us were stopped in our tracks. Right then we realized that most of the songs of Bread are as beautiful and moving as any other song that we'd ever heard. And so we learned to let the songs of Bread take us back. Friends and Lovers: Songs of Bread, is packed with wake and bake versions of Bread classics from artists like Josh Rouse, Cake, Jon and Ken from The Posies, Paula, Rachel Goswell (Mojave 3), Frazer and Erlend Oye (Kings of Convenience). After assembling the ingredients for three years we hope you are ready to get a taste of the best baked goods you've had since you were a kid. Formed in 1969 amidst the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, the nucleus of Bread, consisting of Rob Royer, James Griffin, and David Gates met while recording in the studio. Immediately after meeting, they decided to pool their talents to form a group. With gems such as 'It Don't Matter to Me', and 'Make it with You' rising to the top of the charts, it became obvious that this 'soft rock' approach was going to be the sound that Bread would succeed and ultimately become identified with. Each song was recorded specifically for this collection. After the recent passing of founding member and co-writer James Griffin, this album perhaps has greater importance, and reverence, than when it was initially conceived. Reviews This tribute does it right by showcasing the songs and reminding fans what was so good about Bread to begin with. It makes each one of them shine that much brighter on their own. Great tribute. Pick this up immediately. 'This time around, 1970s soft-rockers Bread receive props from indie-rock admirers and progeny. The band's specialty was a very melancholy, limpid, romantic gentle-rock -- Belle & Sebastian without the sarcasm, sort of. To re-create it, Friends and Lovers enlists a great deal of local talent: ex-Tarnation Paula Frazer's country-meets-Procol Harum 'Everything I Own,' the Moore Brothers' transformation of 'Look at Me' into an ache-laden ancient British Isles ballad, and Cake's rather straight-up 'The Guitar Man.' Elsewhere, Oranger decorates 'Make It with You' with 'A Day in the Life'-type freakout, and a Brazilian and drum 'n' bass-flavored 'Baby I'm a Want You' from Call and Response sounds like Karen Carpenter singing from beyond with the Thievery Corporation. Friends is amazingly consistent throughout -- there's a palpable feeling of the performers' affection toward these songs, minus the smug irony sometimes blighting 'tribute' sets.' - East Bay Express Covering Bread was a piece of Cake for eclectic singer-guitarist John McCrea. By Gene Triplett Entertainment Editor - Oaklahoman He's no snob when it comes to music, solid proof of which is found in Cake's peculiarly pleasing alt-rock deconstruction of Gloria Gaynor's disco-era hit 'I Will Survive,' released in 1996. Some critics saw it as an ironic put-down of a mainstream genre from a band that waves it's freak flag high. 'I was being dead serious and sincere,' Cake front man McCrea said from his Sacramento, Calif., home this week. 'That's the weird thing. I mean, I've said it a million times in interviews, is that we're not joking. We like that song. We think it's a (great) song. We didn't hang out at Studio 54 or anything, but for me as a songwriter, it's all about the songs.' The same goes for the soft-rock stylings of Bread, the hit-making '70s trio led by Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter David Gates. And when Badman Records asked Cake to contribute a cover to the 'Friends and Lovers: Songs of Bread' tribute album, McCrea knew just the tune he wanted to tinker with. 'I've got a very distinct memory of going to the public library when I was about 10 years old, and I would check out records. And there was this Bread record, and I just kind of grabbed it and listened to it. And I remember the song 'Guitar Man' just punched me in the stomach at that point. I had no idea why, really.' Thus, Cake does a typically Cake-like take on 'The Guitar Man,' complete with McCrea's chunky acoustic guitar, Vincent di Fiore's amusingly melodramatic trumpet lines and the band's characteristically spare sound laced with some flashes of showy '70s-style electric guitar riffage. But McCrea surprises us by forgoing his usual deadpan, irony-riddled, sing-speak style in favor a heartfelt croon that finds the poignancy in the Gates composition. It's easily the best track on a disc that features 13 other artists including Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies (doing 'Games of Magic' and 'Down On My Knees,' respectively), Josh Rouse ('It Don't Matter to Me'), Call and Response ('Baby I'm a Want You') and Oranger ('Make It with You'), to name a few. 'I like the Call and Response one. I think they took some liberties with it,' he said. 'I really don't want to critique other bands on it, but I think overall, without being specific, some people (on the album) are taking the approach of doing a really close depiction of the actual sound of Bread, which I think is good and that's one approach. And then some people are going off on a tangent with it, which I think is also interesting.' Cake obviously took the latter approach, but with the utmost respect and affection for Gates' song. In fact, McCrea and the band liked it so much, they also included it on Cake's most recent album, 'Pressure Chief' (Columbia). And McCrea says anyone who snubs soft-rock or any other form of music on the basis of 'cool/not cool' should take a hard look at himself. 'Yeah, why make fun of a well-written song unless you're an insecure person that needs to use music almost like insecure middle-age people use fine wine,' he said. 'You're using music as a badge. And simultaneously I think what you do is drain the actual joy out of it, and it becomes somewhat of a calcified exoskeleton of your pathetic and, I guess, not fully defined ego.' That mouthful said, it becomes obvious that while McCrea may sound smirky and sarcastic much of the time, he's really serious about songcraft. 'If you're a young guy, you're kind of uncertain about a lot of things so you use music as somewhat of a bolstering of your machismo,' he said. 'As people grow up, they allow themselves to listen to all kinds of music, like classical music and Brazilian music and country-Western. 'A lot of country-Western music is simultaneously macho and soft, so I think that's interesting. I think that's where David Gates was coming from, coming from Oklahoma. There's kind of a country ballad tradition that he added a bunch of extra guitar chords to.' So, there you have the recipe for successful soft-rock, whether you like it or not. Put that in your Cake and bake it.