Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bread - Manna (1971)

Bread's third album Manna unknowingly highlights what eventually would drive the band to fall apart. Despite having a rock songwriter in James Griffin and having a talented pop rock songwriter with a tendency to write ballads in David Gates, it was David Gates' songs that gained the most popularity and consequently drove the band's financial success. This rift in the acceptance of their music grew into the lives of the two men, eventually causing the band to split in early 1973. Bread is a fundamental part of the genre of soft rock that flowered in the early 70s with bands like America. The first song "Let Your Love Go" is a Gates penned tune which is unusual given its driving rock feeling. The opening track showcases the vocal harmony which is very typical of Bread. In fact, Bread was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2006. "Take Comfort" is an interesting for the juxtaposition of the driving rock sections against the halftime ballad sections. Don't let my introduction mislead you, Griffin could write a good song, his songs were just financially outshone by Gates' material. "Too Much Love" is a great song that blends the sounds of electric and acoustic guitars and shows Bread's partial roots in country music. "Too Much Love" has a bass line that sounds like it is right out of a country song, but it is the bluesy guitar and the rhythm of the hi-hat on the drums that makes this song sound much more than a country song. "If" is the highlight of the album and personally one of my favorite Bread songs of all time. Harmonically, "If" is a very interesting pop tune. While "If" is primarily based on A(I), D(IV) and E(V) chords, Gates frequently uses borrowed chords (mostly the minor iv) from the parallel minor to create a fantastic ballad. When all of the elements of the wah-wah effect on electric guitar, the arpeggios on the acoustic guitar, and Gates' falsetto are mixed together "If" becomes a terrific example of great songcraft. "He's a Good Lad" is another personal favorite and stylistically very similar to much singer/songwriter material of its time. The layering effect created as instruments slowly enter the song, orchestrated strings, and the piano maintaining the pulse are all pretty common in music of the time. "I Say It Again" highlights many of the elements that made Bread famous; its mixing of electric/acoustic, vocal harmony, and Gates' falsetto are all at the fore of this song.  "Come Again" combine a lot of influences into an interesting track. The track starts in a ballad feel with the piano playing in unison with Gates. The track then moves into a semi-jazz feel with brushes on the drums. This juxtaposition continues with the ballad progressively becoming more orchestrated and the "response" section becoming stylistically varied. "Come Again" reiterates a lot of the elements that make Bread an interesting band. Harmonized vocals, a mixture of electric/acoustic, orchestrated strings, and an embrace of other genres are the primary elements of Bread's music and why I continue to listen to their music year after year.



  2. very good!!