Bread is seen as nothing but a wimp-pop band -- an impression which is justified, but it wipes out the fact that the group was quite good and rather slyly diverse in its early days, particularly on its debut, Bread. This is effectively the birth of Californian soft rock, as David Gates and compatriots blend the folk-rock of the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield with a distinctly British melodicism and a streak of sentimentality borrowed from McCartney. The result is a modest little gem, with more strange turns than you'd expect from their reputation -- including soaring falsettos, spiraling melodies, rough guitars, and, best of all, a set of tightly-written, appealing songs. Only "It Don't Matter Me," which became a hit after the second album, ranks among their best-known material, but each of the songs illustrates the exceptional craftsmanship of not just Gates, but Robb Royer and James Griffin. As such, this may not seem like the record for casual fans, if judged just on the track listing, but it will convince the pop fans that may have been doubters.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine