The Best of Friends
Rating: 8
Squirm factor: 3
   Of all the groups working the Sensitive Acoustic Guy territory, Loggins and Messina are by far my favorite, largely because they don't actually have much to say. Lacking the deep passions and/or sincerely held dubious metaphysical beliefs of their peers, they are left with craftsmanship, which makes their music easy on the ears. Jim Messina certainly knows how to produce and arrange a record, so that everything here is well-played and sung, and both guys are pretty good songwriters. The unorthodox instrumentation, heavy on woodwinds, is a bonus.
   A few complaints: Jim Messina shouldn't be singing leads (a bit heavy on the nasals), and I really don't want to see his chest on the cover photo. "Thinking of You" has a bunch of skips (probably the fault of neither Loggins nor Messina, but it sure is distracting). My biggest complaint is the mastering - the songs play at different levels. If you're listening at a nice normal volume, you can hardly hear the beginning of "Danny's Song."
   But, boy, the rest here sure is solid. A lot of people may slag "My Music" and "Your Mama Don't Dance" as dumb pastiches of rock and roll, but I say more power to 'em for being as dumb as they are. Loggins & Messina know this is party music, and they take the right attitude - lots of jokey lyrics, a swinging beat, and of course fine harmonies. If these don't make you smile, then you're Dave Marsh.
   The serious songs are the duo's forte, however. You may think "Danny's Song" is corny, but to me as a new dad who ain't got money, it expresses some central emotional truths. Even the astrology b.s. gets to the hopes we all feel about our children. And the tune, though built on a standard descending chord sequence, goes in an unexpected direction that is quite pretty. "Angry Eyes" shows just how powerful a properly strummed acoustic guitar is, and Messina lays on some hot licks but doesn't show off. And don't tell me you can resist singing along with "Vahevala, homeward sailor!"
   This is a record I can play a half-dozen times in a row and not get tired. Tasty!

  • From Zach Smith: You gave this 3 points better rating then Quadrophenia. Hey, go say that on thewho.net and see what they think. Hey Steve, Loggins and Messina. You gave them an 8. Did you type the wrong key? The 0 is on the very left of the keyboard.
  • STEVE AND ABE RESPOND: Abe says, "Yayayayaya." Steve says: "Actually, I gave this an 8 and Quadrophenia a 4. You're right, that rating is unfair. I like this album a lot more than twice as much as Quad. Thanks for writing!"

  • From Avery B. Andrew: Dear God, you rated them higher than Quadro!!!! L and M are just male Carly Simons mixed with tree huggers. Thank goodness Jimmy Messina is running the show.
  • STEVE AND ABE RESPOND: Abe says, "Watch Elmo." Steve says: "Actually, unlike Carly Simon, these fellows can hold their notes. Thanks for writing!"

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