Deep Dive: Bread, GUITAR MAN
In today’s installment of Deep Dive, we’re taking a look – and a listen – to Bread’s fifth studio album, an effort which earned the band three top-20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Unlike the band’s previous album, however, it didn’t include any top-10 singles, which has caused it to slip slightly into obscurity over the years. We’re here to try and change that.
Produced by the band themselves, GUITAR MAN was preceded in release by its title track, which was issued as a single in the summer of ’72 and climbed to #11. The song, which was written by Gates, featured lead guitar from Larry Knechtel. As Gates recalled in the liner notes to Rhino’s Bread anthology, “James [Griffin] went out and tried to play a solo that wasn’t sounding right, and I went out and tried it and didn’t have any luck either. Larry plays a little guitar, so I asked him to try it. He hooked up a little wah-wah pedal, and he came up with all those things on the spot. I’ll bet that wasn’t more than two hours of work on his part.”
The GUITAR MAN album was released late in ’72, and while it offered up a number of the ballads that had become Bread’s trademark at the time, it also provided the bluesy “Fancy Dancer,” the poppy “Sweet Surrender,” and the country-tinged “Yours for Life.” Alas, it wasn’t as successful as its predecessor, BABY I’M-A WANT YOU, but it did make its way into the top 20. Before the end of ’73, however, Bread had called it quits.
“As we went in to do our sixth album, we found that our songs just weren’t as potent as they previously had been,” said Gates. “We’d done successive albums once a year and a lot of touring, and we hadn’t had any chance to recharge our batteries. Rather than put out some album that would compromise the reputation that we’d built up, I decided that it was done.”
He wasn’t done forever, though: by 1976, the band – having been approached by Elektra about the possibility of another album – reunited and released LOST WITHOUT YOUR LOVE, the title track of which provided Bread with their final top-10 hit. As such, GUITAR MAN was left as the lone album by the band without a top-10 hit amongst its track listing. It’s still good listening, though, so pop it open and take another bite of this underrated piece of Bread.