CD Review: Songs of Joy: The Complete C&T Collection box set

Captain & Tennille catalog finally available on remastered box set, November 24, 2005 reviewer: Rod Reynolds "theartdept" (Los Angeles, CA)
Each of these six original albums has been remastered, and the sound quality is outstanding. Better than the long out of print Japanese cds from the early 90s. They have corrected a few of the sonic blips, such as the the 'chck' on the last note of 'Love on a Shoestring' (from "Make Your Move"). Sadly there are no bonus tracks.

The sonic clarity on "Love Will Keep Us Together" (1975) is especially noticeable, I'm hearing bits of vocal and music that I've never heard in my thirty years of intense listening to it. That album has always sounded a touch muffled to me, but no longer, and no tape hiss. The acapella opening on "I Write the Songs" is chilling. The piano sounds alone are worth the price of admission. There are several Beach Boys tracks and references, including a cover of "God Only Knows," and Bruce Johnston's brilliant "Disney Girls."

"Song of Joy" (1976) has been mastered again since the 2004 Hip-O release. Every song on this album is killer, from the epic title track, through the hit singles ('Lonely Night', written by Neil Sedaka, the infamous 'Muskrat Love' and the shining jewel of pop perfection, their cover of The Miracles' 'Shop Around') and the powerhouse album cuts "Mind Your Love" and "1954 Boogie Blues." Toni says she loves to sing the blues, and she really cuts loose on these two tracks. The ten piece brass section doesn't hurt, either.

"Come in From the Rain" (1977) also benefits from the remastering. The clarity and subtlety of the rain on the title track made me check to see if I'd left the windows down on my truck. My two favorites from the album are "Easy Evil" which has remarkable percussion, a rare excursion into "dark pop", and their cover of Stevie Wonder's "Happier Than the Morning Sun," which has new life breathed into the Toni's piano performance. Again, nearly every instrument on this album is performed by Daryl Dragon. How can one person be so brilliant?

"Dream" (1978) is my favorite album of theirs. I love their early pop sound, particularly "Song of Joy", but "Dream" has a forward sophistication that still manages to retain the innocence of their early work. It's their first album after they stopped making their tv show, and you can tell they have regained their focus. Toni's smoky, honey velvet voice is at her ultimate peak. "You Never Done it Like That" is brilliant. With the remastering, I'm hearing a snap on the drums I've never heard in over 25 years of listening to it. The echo on Toni's voice gives me chills. The last couple tracks on the album ('Back to the Island' and 'Dream') are simply gorgeous. And the orchestra on 'If There Were Time' is breathtaking. You can feel the strings vibrate. What's even more amazing is that Daryl (the Captain) plays almost every instrument on the album, in addition to producing it. Plus the photos from the Yucca Valley desert are my favorites. Ever.

'How Can You Be So Cold' on "Make Your Move" (1979) has a remarkable depth and power. Amazing drumming, amazing keyboards, amazing vocals. Astounding sound separation on the entire album. Pure pop disco rock that could give Donna Summer a run for her money. They should release this as a single now, with different dance mixes. And throw in an extra extended version of their Arabic flavored cover of the Turtles hit "Happy Together." I can hear it now. Awesome. This album also includes their second biggest hit, "Do That To Me One More Time," the meaning of which Toni finally reveals in the liner notes.

This is the first ever cd release of "Keeping Our Love Warm" (1980), and it's great to hear the strong notes of the classic 'Since I Fell For You' without the distortion of the vinyl. The title track is a great warm pop tune, one of several of Toni's originals on the album, as well as another Stevie Wonder cover, "Until You Come Back to Me" (also recorded by Aretha Franklin). And the remastering has removed the muffle at the halfway point in their new version of "Gentle Stranger," a track that first appeared on their debut album, and in the liner notes, Toni explains why they wanted to remake it.

Each disc has exclusive liner notes written by Toni Tennille, and KOLW has additional track annotation from the original lp's press release. Each cd comes in a slipcase with the original artwork plus rare photos on the back and on the inside, in addition to copies of ads and other memorabilia. When the slipcase is removed, the booklet covers do not represent the original artwork, though. The inside cover of "Keeping Our Love Warm" is a grainy black and white shot (from inside the sauna). The inside cover for "Song of Joy" is the single sleeve for 'Lonely Night', for example.

There are a few minor typographical glitches and the scanning and photoshopping is occasionally errant, but these are small complaints, considering for the last twenty years we fans have been begging A&M, Polygram and Universal to release these amazing albums on cd. Well, better late than never, and well worth the wait.

Each of these albums has some amazing music on it. Thank you to R2 for finally getting them out on cd.
Rod Reynolds
Los Angeles, CA 2005

© 2005 The Art Dept Los Angeles

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