Captain & Tennilles Greatest Hits
Captain & Tennille
1977: A&M 75021 3105 2
I am a scrupulously honest person, and I must be absolutely clear about why I have this CD: its as much a must-have as a liability, the excellent tracks being even more outstanding when so juxtaposed with the execrable ones.
Absolute top placement here goes to The Way I Want To Touch You. The arrangement on this version (apparently there are around 5 others that were released at one point or another) is very gently touching until its closing sequence, when it is transformed from its chrysalis into a bewilderingly beautiful vocal expression of the gush of love at its all-consuming height. As sensuously sweeping as it is to listen to, its nearly as much of a delight to sing along with for its backing vocals (way, way, the way, the way gorgeous and lush). Also, the chorus lyrics are a nice use of oppositesnot as sophisticated or sharp as those Annie Lennox arranged for Love Is a Stranger, but still better than the cotton-candy fluff of other 70s pop.
Immediate runner-ups are Shop Around, Love Will Keep Us Together, and Lonely Night (Angel Face). On the extreme other end of the scale, however, are the legendarily saccharine Muskrat Love and of course I Write the Songs (though it must be conceded that neither was originally theirs still, they did record them).
Shop Around is one of those 70s masterpieces I tend to forget about and then I happen to hear it somewhere and remember oh YEAH, that was GREAT! Its a nice & tight trackperfect pop mastery Tennilles vocals strut and stomp brilliantly through the songs structure and wrench it out of its smarmy original tone and right up into an empowering (for ANYONE singing it) testifying of what Jill Conner Browne (the Boss Queen of the Sweet Potato Queens) refers to as the Be Particular mindset (and it reminds me, happily, of the feeling of female-emancipation-and-self-actualization that was refreshingly in the air in the mid-70s). The slippery keyboard work on this trackprecise, to be sure, but not at ALL conventional or predictableis an excellent instrumental counterpart to Tennilles vocals: to the casual listener it doesnt particularly stand out or skew the track, but if youre at all piano-savvy youll be surprised and even a little dazzled by the subtle disorientation of Dragons craft in this simultaneously meticulous and wild beauty.
Lonely Night (Angel Face) makes a fine companion piece to Shop Around, stylistically cut from the same tree but only in these recordings. Love Will Keep Us Together is by Neil Sedaka, as is Lonely Night (Angel Face), but this track scarcely resembles it. The evocative/ambient stuff in its opening is an amusing teaser compared with the strong-and-tight delivery immediately following.
A final note on C&Ts style(s): Tennille has one of those voices thats not only catchy (even yummy at times) as a lead vocal but also becomes a sumptuous treat when chorally multitracked. When shes providing all three parts of a chord as a backing track, its almost always superior to any imaginable alternative and on The Way I Want To Touch You those voices are all flawlessly parallelled (although to be frank the instrumental side gets a little abundant by comparison and loses the focus).
Comments © 2006 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.