Captain & Tennille dominated in 1976, when their brilliant follow-up to the Love Will Keep Us Together album garnered another three Top Five hits (bringing their streak to five!), the trio of 45s all hitting number one in the adult contemporary charts as the two singles before did. Though it is hard to beat Neil Sedaka's original from his The Hungry Years album, "Lonely Night (Angel Face)" was a smart move for the duo. They hit in February with this other tune from the pen of the guy who wrote their debut hit, and followed that up quickly in May with a unique and clever cover of the Smokey Robinson classic from 16 years before, "Shop Around." Smokey's debut hit number two while Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille got to number four -- lightning striking pretty much twice for "Shop Around." "Muskrat Love" in October was unique in another way as the group America failed to break through with the W.A. Ramsey cover. Had A&M Records gotten their version of "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" out in a timely fashion they may have hit with that as well -- the title is listed as "public domain" here, though on Captain & Tennille's Greatest Hits they do credit Paul Stookey. Tennille's rendition with soaring backing vocals is even more majestic than the Stookey classic. Song of Joy is a fantastic extension of the formula from the pair's debut LP. And though it is hard to argue with their huge success, it's easy to wish they expanded the band from the nucleus of drummer Hal Blaine, Dragon on bass and synths, and Tennille's voices to more players. Like, where is the guitar? Jim Horn is simply awesome on "1954 Boogie Blues" as are those on the other brass instruments, but a Jack Bruce providing bass would've helped the tune explode. The Captain handles most of the bass and the bottom sometimes turns invisible. For all intents and purposes they were a trio, or duo plus drummer, and though there are the mentioned horns as well as some backing vocalists, most notably the bass vocal of Gary Sims on "Lonely Night" and "Shop Around" and Louisa Tennille and Melissa Tennille, just imagine the depth of sound had the Beach Boys worked with them on instruments and backing vocals for a few songs -- or Sedaka and the Section or 10cc, the two bands Neil utilized on his Laughter in the Rain epic. Just imagine! Like Todd Rundgren, Emitt Rhodes, and Paul McCartney's first solo disc, playing most or all of the instruments is interesting but not as colorful as impressions from other musical personalities. 1979's Make Your Move LP did have extra help, and when Captain & Tennille brought in a full crew as on 1980's Keeping Our Love Warm, it made for one of their most impressive musical outings, though it is important to keep in mind it was their one album up to this point in time that had no Top 40 hits! That observation aside, Dragon and Tennille play their hearts out, and when it comes to following up a monster debut, their second effort was quite simply an admirable and very impressive success. ~ Joe Viglione
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