10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
past their commercial prime, but still a high quality album,
This review is from: Takin It Easy (Audio CD)
In a sense, Seals & Crofts' 1978 album "Takin' It Easy" is the proper follow-up to 1976's "Get Closer". However, in between those two, the 1976 'live' album "Sudan Village" was released, as was the 1977 "One on One" soundtrack which Seals & Crofts were significantly involved in.
By the time "Takin' It Easy" was finally released, it seems that the record buying public had lost a lot of interest in the duo. Compared to the several gold-selling albums that preceeded it, "Takin' It Easy" was a commercial disappointment, peaking at (coincidentally enough) number 78 on the Billboard album charts.
One gets the sense that even during the recording of "Takin' It Easy", there was concern of how Seals & Crofts would be received in the midst of the changing musical climate, and there are some clear attemps at 'keeping up with the times'. The most notorious example is the disco-fied Top 20 hit "You're The Love", which Dash Crofts himself claims that he "Hated it!"; that's a somewhat understandable, albeit harsh and unfair critique, because it's not really THAT much of a disco tune, and beyond that, the song is upbeat, insanely catchy, and downright FUN. They also take a half-hearted stab at a New Wave-ish rocker with the album-opening title track--it's a passable tune, and it was a minor hit in its own right, but the guys don't sound like their hearts are really in it, and the result feels forced. Note that neither of these two songs were at all written by the duo ("You're The Love" was written by David Batteau and their producer Louie Shelton).
Apart from the two aforementioned singles though, Seals & Crofts basically stick with the tasteful soft-rock approach of their '76 masterpiece album "Get Closer", and they offer up a bunch of great songs in the process. The Dash Crofts vocal spotlight "One More Time" is a sublime ballad with a somewhat hard-to-define appeal--it seems a tad schlocky on the surface, sort of like it's waiting to be resurrected for American Idol (again, it wasn't at all written by the duo, and actually, it had previously been recorded by the Carpenters), but Dash totally puts it over with his fantastic vocals, which, in typical fashion, are commanding yet mellifluous at the same time, plus to be fair, the melody is really gorgeous, and the harmonious intro will have you instantly thinking, "Whoa, who put on The Beach Boys?" (it's not them, but those ethereal harmonies sure sound like prime Beach Boys, definitely a compliment). Likewise, the epic, philisophical ballad "Sunrise" has a load of atmosphere with its swirling electric piano and synthesizer textures, and it features an excellent saxophone solo from Jim Seals. The bouncy "Breakin' In A Brand New Love" is an absolutely brilliant pop-rock song, the kind of thing that's a joy to rediscover and gets you thinking, "Geez, why wasn't this a huge hit?" "Forever Like The Rose" is another one of their great, heartstring-tugging ballads along the lines of "Don't Fail".
Of the remaining tracks, "Midnight Blue" is quite good, with its moody, minor-keyed, country-blues feel, but it's somewhat annoying due to the overwrought, melodramatic story-song lyrics. "Nobody Gets Over Lovin' You" has a somewhat curious blend of tormented lyrics with an upbeat-sounding tune, and Jim hits a great vocal climax on the song's fade. "Magnolia Moon" is a pleasant low-key ballad, if rather forgettable. Likewise, the 5+ minute album-closer "A Tribute To Abdu'l-Baha'", though again loaded with atmosphere, and obviously very much from Jim & Dash's hearts, just fails to stick in the memory even after repeated listens.
On the whole, I wouldn't quite rank "Takin' It Easy" at masterpiece level, but any fan who seeks this album out definitely ought to get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Thanks to Wounded Bird Records for finally getting it out on CD.