The Very Best Of - Bread Album Review
I'd like a pound for every slice (sorry) of Bread I've sold during my 20 years in music-retail, yet the band remain a mystery to many, even after an existence of 40 years-plus. With this 2012 revisit of their most familiar songs, things may just change - after all, whether they'd admit it or not, the Bread influence is prevalent with many current artists, namely Midlake, Fleet Foxes, Jonathan Jeremiah and pretty much anyone on Loose Recordings or Bella Union.
Like Harry Nillsson, lead singer and songwriter David Gates was a master of string-laden country-soul and rock balladry during the '70s and "The Very Best Of" strengthens this statement with the inclusion of some of his best-known compositions, a few of which are more familiar when in the hands of other singers. "Make It With You", "Baby I'm a Want You" and "Guitar Man" are perhaps his biggest successes with the band, although both "If" and "Everything I Own" respectively became massive hits for others, including the actor Telly Savalas, aka Kojak, in 1975 with the former and reggae crooner Ken Boothe and later for the then-troubled pop-star Boy George, with the latter.
Other memorable songs include US hits "It Don't Matter to Me" and "Sweet Surrender", both prime examples of Gates' ability to turn a tune. Schmaltzy on occasion, as on "Lost Without Your Love" and "Diary", Bread became more synonymous for their weepy slower songs than the less-memorable rock songs, with many on this collection culled from the band's most successful albums "Baby I'm-a Want You" and "On The Waters". As well as being an accomplished songwriter (he wrote most of the tracks here), Gates was also a big influence on the band's arrangements and fluidity and even if the music might not be your cup of tea, you have to take notice of just how pin-sharp Bread sounded for an early-'70s outfit.
Over the past few decades, this collection has been released many times before, either in different sleeves or with slightly different running-orders. But ultimately, you really only need a dozen of these songs to sample the freshest Bread money can buy. An appalling lack of biographical information on the band also suggests that this CD has been aimed at the casual buyer - a shame, they deserved better.