Seals and Crofts
Warner Bros. BS 2699
Released: April 1973
Chart Peak: #4
Weeks Charted: 77
Certified Gold: 6/25/73
It looks like a trend. Arlo Guthrie, Steve Goodman, Seals and Crofts -- all adorning their album covers with family portraits. The difference here is that S&C have gone all the way and dedicated the record to their wives, spalshed their pictures all over the gatefold jacket, and even written a song about them.
These ingredients, part of the duo's personal philosiphies, crop up throughout without becoming obnoxious. The main reason they don't is the great difference in the styles of the outstanding tunes. Besides the "Ruby Jean and Billie Lee" ballad there's the all-for-fun "Standin' on a Mountain Top," the country "Dust on My Saddle," and the mellow instrumental "Wisdom."
"Mountain Top" sounds like a vintage 1964 rock tune that might have vied with the Riveras' "California Sun" for a spot in the Top Ten. And well it should, because a check at the credits shows that James Seals did indeed write it in 1964. Today it's a refresher, a breather between songs sprinkled with various messages.
Not only does he walk, talk, write, sing and play guitar on Diamond Girl, Seals blows a mean alto sax. "Wisdom" is completely incongruous with the rest of the album, but it ends the 41 minutes on a high note. The instrumental, the extended vocal-free passages of "Nine Houses" and the mandolin work of Dash Crofts will astound dilettantes who thought the team was only capable of producing songs Ray Coniff could cover.
Unfortunately the tracks most likely to get AM play are the unadventurous ones. They're not bad, but they're musical meringues appealing to those looking for sweet sounds without much substance. The title tune and "We May Never Pass This Way (Again)" are the best-known entries in this category. Then there are a couple of minor irritants that will keep listeners needle-hopping to hear the really good stuff.
- Paul Gambaccini, Rolling Stone, 6/7/73.
In the classic folk-schlock manner, female contributors to this album (predictable exception: Bobbye Hall, here designated Miss rather than Ms) are listed by first name. Only these women aren't groupies -- they're wives, and the album is dedicated to them. Well, I'm sure it sounds better on a pedestal than on a turntable. C-
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
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