On this their fourth album, Bread has finally learned to checker-board their serious-romantic style with a comic-romantic one. They alternate fast songs with slow ones and in doing so help to get the overall effect of expression in-the-round, which their earlier albums lacked. "This Isn't What the Governmeant" may not be romantic, "Down on My Knees" may not be comic, and "Mother Freedom" certainly attempts to be neither, but even these songs help to generate the alternating-current energy of the album.
the opening song, come by way of a raunchy, buzzing electric guitar to tell you that Bread mean to serve themselves with enough grit to compensate for the upcoming molasses. Little extra vocal touches, such as David Gates' near falsetto on the word "smack" and the muleskinner's heeyawh
someone throws in during the repeat of "Freedomkeep tryin'," add to "Mother Freedom," and are indicative of the care with which all the vocals on the album have been delivered.
I've given a lot of thought to how David Gates came up with a title like "Baby I'm-A Want You," and all I can figure is that either he just had bad need of an extra syllable, or he was making some sort of phonetic tribute to Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed." There are no striking similarities between those two songs in particular, but clearly Gates as a songwriter and singer owes a great deal to McCartney. Melodically and vocally Gates approaches the best of his love songs with a freshness that makes him, as did the early and middle McCartney, sound like he's never ever said before those words he's "longed to say." Even when the ballads on their album are suffused with the passion of unrequited love, Bread never forces their feelings upon you. They have developed an undefinable taste, or class, whatever you want to call it, which was totally absent in such vile past music of theirs as "Make It With You."
Of course, even though inoffensive, some of their present love songs also just don't make it. Gates' "Diary," with its bland melody and an instrument which sounds like it's either an electrified jew's harp or underwater, is a melodramatic piece about a fellow who finds and misinterprets the diary of the girl he's in love with, and like a character in an early Gide novel, he pledges his life to her nevertheless. Whereas Gates' ballads have an all-or-nothing extravagance about them, Jimmy Griffin's are comparatively cautious. Since his songs don't go for broke, he, unlike Gates, doesn't risk an occasional disaster for the sake of a big winner like Gates' "Everything I Own."
The way Bread performs "Down On My Knees" is strongly reminiscent of the exuberant rockers of the Beatles' pre-Revolver days, notably in the back-up harmonies, the use of both guitars besides the bass as rhythm instruments, the twenty second guitar solo, and the chord build-up in the finale. Griffin's lead vocals on that song, "I