Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968-70)

- David Gates -- vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion

- James Griffin (RIP 2005) -- vocals, lead guitar, bass, keyboards

- Robb Wilson Royer -- bass, guitar, flute, backing vocals


  supporting musicians (1969)

- Ron Edgar -- drums, percussion

- Jim Gordon -- drums, percussion


  line up 2 (1970-71)

NEW - Michael Botts (RIP 2005) -- drums, percussion

- David Gates -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- James Griffin (RIP 2005) -- vocals, lead guitar, bass, keyboards

- Larry Knechtel -- (RIP 2009) - keyboards

- Robb Wilson Royer -- bass, guitar, flute, backing vocals

- The Accents (David Gates)

- The Avalanches (David Gates)

- Black Tie (James Griffin)

- Mike Botts (solo effforts)

- The Ceyleib People  (Larry Knechtel)

- Jerry Cole and His Spacemen (Larry Knechtel)

- The Country Boys (David Gates)

- David and Lee (David Gates)

- Duane Eddy and the Rebels (Larry Knechtel)

- The Fencemen (David Gates)

David Gates (solo efforts)

- The Glaciers (David Gates)

- Griffin and Sylvester (James Griffin)

- James Griffin (solo efforts)

- Mr. Gasser & the Weirdoes (David Gates)

- Larry Knechtel (solo efforts)

- Henry Mancini and His Orchestra (Larry Knechtel)

- The Manchesters (David Gates)

- The Morning Glories (Robb Royer)

- Pleasure Fair (Robb Royer)

- The Mike Post Coalition (Larry Knechtel)

- The Rainy Day People (Robb Royer)

- The Rebels (Larry Knechtel)

- The Remingtons (James Griffin)

- Robb Royer (solo efforts)

- Lalo Schifrin & Orchestra (Larry Knechtel)

- The Travelers Three (Michael Botts)

- Kip Tyler and the Flips (Larry Knechtel)






Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Bread

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKS-74044

Year: 1969

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $20.00


1969's "Bread" is one of those debut albums that remains a mystery to me.  Even though a lot of reviewers trash it, song-for-song I find it's an impressive collection.  Nah, it isn't perfect and you can clearly hear David Gates, James Griffin and Robb Royer getting comfortable as a band.  That said, it beats 95% of debut albums and is one of those collections without a single "needle lift" across the twelve selections. While it was released by a "name" band on a major label, today the album is surprisingly unknown. 


Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, singer/multi-instrumentalist David Gates has been a professional musician since the late 1950s, having released at least eight singles prior to forming Bread.  The mid-'60s found him relocating to Southern California where he eventually hooked up with Uni Records.  One of his assignments was producing a 1967 album for the pop-psych band The Pleasure Fair.  That production job brought him into contact with band member Robb Royer, who in turn introduced him to songwriting partner James Griffin.  Griffin had also been in music for several years, including having released a 1963 surf-music themed album for Reprise Records - "Summer Holiday" (Reprise catalog number R-6091).  With Pleasure Fair calling it quits, Gates, Griffin and Royer decided to try a collaboration.  The fact they ended up signing to  Jac Holzman's Elektra Records was odd given the label was not known as a hotbed for pop acts.  As a payback for letting a young Arthur Lee out of his contract with Elektra, music attorney Al Schlesinger brought the trio to Holzman.  The group cut a demo for the label and were quickly signed to a contract. The name reportedly came to Gates when he found himself stuck in traffic behind a Wonder Bread delivery truck.  For a new act, Elektra displayed considerable confidence in the trio, allowing them to produce themselves (working with engineer Bruce Botnick) and even allowing them to record a collection of all original material.  Thank about it - even The Beatles and The Stones debut albums included cover tunes.


Today if someone thinks about Bread, it's likely to be along the lines of David Gates-styled ballads.  True, the majority of their career hits were those big, sappy ballads - 'Make It with You', 'If', 'Baby I'm - a Want You', etc.  That's one of the things that makes the debut album interesting.  Yeah, you can hear Gates discovering the power of the ballad on material like the original version of 'It Don't Matter To Me' and 'Look At Me', but with half of the tracks penned by James Griffin and Robb Royer, the debut went a long way to underscoring Bread was more than a ballad production line.  In fact, exemplified by material like 'Dismal Day', 'Could I' and 'The Last Time', over half of the album showcased more pop, or rock oriented performances.  And just like Gates is typically thought of as the voice of Bread, the debut demonstrated that the late Griffin was every bit as talented as Gates.  I'd argue that collectively Griffin's contributions to the debut were better than Gates.  Finally kudos to sessions players Jim Gordon and Ron Edgar.  Their support on drums was impeccable throughout the album.   All debut albums should be as enjoyable.


In spite of the fact neither of the US singles charted, the debut album peaked at # 127 on the US charts. The group had the misfortune of releasing their debut two weeks before Atlantic released the first Crosby, Stills, and Nash album.  By the way,  Abe Gurvin's cover art always makes me smile - the concept was apparently money - "bread" ...

"Bread" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Dismal Day  (David Gates) - 2:19 rating: ***** stars

Always loved the perky, folk-rock vibe that propelled the opener 'Dismal Day.'  The contrast with Gates' dark lyrics still makes me smile.  Gates seldom sounded as good; particularly when he hit those high notes; the three part harmonies were simply glistening and Royer's bass line was majestic.  My only complaint - shame the song was so short.  If I were in a cover band, this would be on the play list.  Their debut single (how was it radio didn't jump on this one?):

- 1969's 'Dismal Day' b/w 'Any Way You Want Me' (Elektra catalog number EKS 45-666) 

2.)  London Bridge  (David Gates)  2:30  rating: *** stars

Well, for a band that made a career out of ballads, 'London Bridge' was a nice way to start - always loved the early Moog touches.  Gates was reportedly inspired to write the tune after reading an article detailing how the London Bridge had been sold, disassembled and rebuilt in Arizona.  Thank Paul Beaver for programming the Moog - Gates played the instrument.

3.) Could I (James Griffin - Robb Royer) - 3:30   rating: *** stars

I've always been attracted to Bread's more pop and rock oriented offerings.  Penned by Griffin and Royer, 'Could I' was a great example of that aspect of their catalog.  Once again Royer turned in a mesmerizing bass line, while Griffin got a brief opportunity to showcase his chops on lead guitar.  I pulled this quote off the SongFacts website and unfortunately there was no reference to the original source: ""Robb (Royer) came up with the musical idea for that one on piano. I wrote the second part, that George Harrison-ish middle-C section. We thought it had a real English flavor to it. Jim Gordon played drums on it - it was a real hard song for a drummer to pull off, because it had a 3/4 against a 4/4 rhythm. Jim was one of the few who could've done it."  The song was released as the album's sophomore 45:






- 1969's 'Could I' b/w 'You Can't Measure the Cost' (Elektra catalog number EK 45668)







4.) Look At Me  (David Gates) - 2:42   rating: *** stars

Gate's pretty, acoustic ballad 'Look At Me' served as a roadmap for the band's forthcoming commercial successes.  Almost pastoral, the track spotlighted their intricate harmonies.  Royer on flute.

5.) The Last Time (James Griffin - Robb Royer) - 4:10  rating: **** stars

As displayed by 'The Last Time' Griffin's material clearly leaned towards a more pop-rock sound.  Shame they didn't do more stuff in this vein.  And yeah, he was easily as good a singer as Gates.  Should have been released as a single.

6.) Any Way You Want Me (James Griffin - Robb Royer)  - 3:12 rating: **** stars

Opening up with some great Griffin acoustic guitar, funky isn't a description you normally associate with Bread, but the rollicking 'Any Way You Want Me' fit the bill.  Not sure if the song featured Griffin and Royer sharing vocals, or was just Griffin double tracked.  Great rocker and one of the album highlights.


(side 2)
Move Over  (James Griffin) - 2:35  rating: **** stars

The album's most commercial rocker, this one won me over via Griffin's tasty fuzz guitar and Gate's bubblegum keyboard.  Great example of how good Griffin's voice was.  Another one that would have made a killer single had anyone at Elektra been paying attention.  The track was released as a British single:






- 1970's 'Move On' b/w You Can't Measure the Cost' (Elektra catalog number EKSN 45083)







2.) Don't Shut Me Out  (David Gates) - 2:39  rating: **** stars

Lots of albums have a "missed opportunity" composition.  Gates' bouncy 'Don't Shut Me Out' is the one on this album.  Elektra marketing was clearly asleep at the wheel in not tapping this one as a 45.  A ready made top-40 pop tune if I've ever heard one.

3.) You Can't Measure The Cost (David Gates) - 3:21 rating: *** stars

'You Can't Measure The Cost' started out sounding like a prototype Gates ballad - fragile melody and  vocals, but the refrain shifted gears, again showing they were comfortable with harder rock material.  And once again those harmonies were wonderful.

4.) Family Doctor  (David Gates - Robb Royer) -  2:13 rating: *** stars

Normally cutesy country-tinged material doesn't do a great deal for me, but 'Family Doctor' was goofy enough to make me smile.  Griffin on lead vocals.

5.) It Don't Matter To Me  (David Gates) - 2:41  rating: **** stars

Gates had written 'It Don't Matter To Me' before Bread formed and pulled it out of his archives thinking it might be a good tune for the band.  The following year the band enjoyed one of their biggest hits with a revamped recording of 'It Don't Matter To Me.'  I don't have a musical background so the changes appear fairly minor to me.  The melody remained instantly recognizable though the original was a bit slower, had a more prominent Griffin solo; more prominent harmonies and  was in a higher key.  The major difference seems to be Gates added strings to the remake.  Perhaps because I've heard the remake so often (I'm pretty sure it was featured at every high school dance I went to), I'll be honest and tell you I prefer the original.

6.) Friends And Lovers  (David Gates - James Griffin -  Robb Royer - Tom Hallinan) -  3:51 rating: *** stars

Griffin described 'Friends And Lovers' as: "The whole thing was about how pieces of your life start falling away as time goes on."  Given the Tom Hallinan co-writing credit, I've always assumed the tune was a Pleasure Fair castoff.  Great melody and a nice example of what a great voice Griffin had.





Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  On the Waters

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKS-74076

Year: 1970

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap; crease on front cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4644

Price: $10.00

Cost: $66.00


Bread is one of those acts that deserves far more credit that accorded them by critics.  During their early-to-mid 1970s heyday they were routinely savaged by critics who saw them as corporate sellouts, while today they're largely remembered for David Gates sappy hit ballads. What's interesting about these guys if that anyone willing to check out their catalog will see that they were an exceptionally talented outfit - far more than sappy ballads..  


Given their debut wasn't a big seller, it was surprising to see Elektra allow the band to self-produced "On the Waters".  In terms of personnel the album was noteworthy for the addition of long time sessions drummer Michael Botts to the line up.  With Gates, Griffin and Royer again responsible for all of the material (the latter two collaborating on five of the twelve selections), the album sported a slightly tougher edge than the debut.  Mind you, I'm using the term loosely since virtually every one of the twelve tracks would have made a dandy single.  That commerciality probably didn't help the band with the critics, but the fact of the matter is that these guys were writing some of the best music on the early 1970s market.  Like country-rock contemporaries such as CSN and Poco their material featured great melodies, fantastic harmony vocals and an often overlooked ability to rock.  Anyone doubting the latter only needed check out Gates' 'Blue Satin Pillow', 'Been Too Long On the Road' or 'Easy Love'. Exemplified by this album Bread turned out better and more diverse country-rock than such luminaries as early-Eagles and their harmonies and arrangements were as good as anything CS&N put out.  Naturally Elektra and radio gravitated to the sure fire Gates hits like the classic soft pop ballad 'Make It with You'.  That was a shame since it categorized these guys as a soft-pop band.  Griffin and Royer's 'Look What You've Done' was actually the better ballad.  A wonderful album that's a pleasure to hear from start almost to the end.  The sappy closing ballad 'The Other Side of Life' being the lone disappointment. You just have to wonder about the fickle marketplace where this one's been overlooked.


Backed by a national tour and the hit single, the album sold gold, hitting # 12 of the US Billboard charts and kicking the group into the commercial big time.  

"On the Waters" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Why Do You Keep Me Waiting (James Griffin - Robb Royer) - 2:29 rating: **** stars

Perhaps I'm alone in this view, but it's the James Griffin and  Robb Royer compositions that frequently saved Bread album's from oblivion.  'Why Do You Keep Me Waiting' was the perfect example.  A rollicking country-rocker, the track had everything needed to be a hit - great melody; nice multi-tracked Griffin vocals and a tasty Griffin fuzz guitar.  The Latin percussion touches would have made Stephen Still smile.  How such a good song got relegated to the "B" side of 'Make It with You' has always puzzled me.

2.) Make It with You (David Gates) - 3:15 rating:**** stars

By all rights I should detest this song.  It is sappy beyond words; almost saccharine and the string arrangement pushed it very close to MOR.  The problem is I grew up with this song - it may have been the first song slow dance and a school sponsored dance.  Like millions of Baby Boomers, for better, or worse the darn thing is part of our DNA. I've always wondered why, but for some reason only Gates and drummer Botts played on the studio version. Released as a single, it was Bread's first top-10 song and their first and only number 1 in the states.  Neither the sound or video quality are very good, but YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the tine for The Andy Williams television program: Bread - Make It With You (1970) (very rare) - YouTube

- 1970's "Make It with You' b/w 'Why Do You Keep Me Waiting' (Elektra catalog number EKM 45686-A/B)

3.) Blue Satin Pillow (David Gates) - 2:26 rating: **** stars

Hearing a Gates rocker is always a surprise and a treat.  Hearing one as good as 'Blue Satin Pillow' is even a bigger treat.  Complete with searing Griffin lead guitar and Botts knocking the crap out of his drum kit, you could almost hear the band breathing a sigh of relief being allowed to break away from top-10 ballads.

4.) Look What You've Done (James Griffin - Robb Royer) - 3:10 rating: **** stars

One of the prettiest songs the band ever recorded, 'Look What You've Done' managed to bridge a stunning ballad with a nice up-tempo mid-section and a return to the main melody. And that melody is as catchy as fly paper  If anyone had any doubt as to who the best singer in the band was, this performance should give them pause.  No idea where or when it was recorded, but YouTube has a live performance of the song at: Bread - Look What You've Done (Live) - YouTube

5.) I Am That I Am (James Griffin - Robb Royer) - 3:18 rating: **** stars

The more I hear Griffin's voice the more impressed I am with him.  Cool, jazzy chords and an interesting lyric made this another standout performance.

6.) Been Too Long On the Road (David Gates) - 4:49 rating: **** stars

"Life is tough on the road" songs are a dime a dozen, but few were as interesting as the rocking 'Been Too Long On the Road'.  Gates again rocking and a nice framework to hear the band's overlooked harmonies.


(side 2)
1.) I Want You With Me (David Gates - James Griffin) -2:48
rating: **** stars

The pretty country-tinged acoustic ballad, 'I Want You With Me' was interesting for the chance to hear Gates and Griffin sharing lead vocals.  Their harmonies were nothing short of amazing; easily matching, if not surpassing CS&N, early-Eagles, or America.  .

2.) Coming Apart (James Griffin - Robb Royer) - 3:25 rating: *** stars

Another spotlight moment for Griffin who demonstrated he could do "heartbreak ballads as well as Gates. 

3.) Easy Love (James Griffin - Robb Royer) - 2:26 rating: **** stars

Opening with some awesome George Harrison-styled  folk-rock guitar moves,  the rocker 'Easy Love' has always reminded me of something Mike Nesmith might have crafted for The Monkess.  The "secret sauce" on this one were actually drummer Botts and Royer's fretless bass solo. This was a track I would have kicked out as a single.

4.) In the Afterglow (David Gates) -2:34 rating: *** stars

A patented Gates ballad, 'In the Afterglow' was interesting for its interesting, slightly jazzy melody.  Not an album standout, but still worth hearing. Darn this band could harmonize.

5.) Call On Me (James Griffin - Robb Royer) - 4:00 rating: **** stars

A darker, almost bluesy ballad, 'Call On Me' was one of my favorite performances with a great Griffin vocal and an even better guitar solo.

6.) The Other Side of Life (David Gates) - 2:02 rating: ** stars

Pretty and forgettable acoustic ballad ... not hard to imagine young lovelorn girls sighing at this one.