Seals & Crofts: Jim Seals (vocals, guitar, fiddle, saxophone); Dash Crofts
(vocals, mandolin, electric guitar, piano).
Additional personnel: Robert Lichtig (bass, flute, clarinet).
Seals & Crofts: Jim Seals (vocals, guitar, fiddle, saxophone); Dash Crofts (vocals, electric guitar, mandolin, piano).
Additional personnel: John Hartford (banjo); Robert Lichtig (flute, clarinet, bass guitar); Jim Horn (flute); Larry Knechtel (piano); Wilton Felder (bass guitar); Jim Gordon , Jim Keltner, John Guerin (drums); Milt Holland (percussion); Dee Higgins, Louie Shelton (background vocals); Donnie Shelton.
Summer Breeze offered an unusually ambitious array of music within a soft rock context -- most artists tried to avoid weighty subjects in such surroundings (except, of course, CSN or Simon & Garfunkel, who could pretty much get away with anything). The title track is one of those relentlessly appealing 1970s harmony-rock anthems, in the same mode as the Doobie Brothers' "Listen to the Music" and appropriately ubiquitous on the radio and in the memory; the guitar (electric and acoustic) and vocal hooks are all well-nigh irresistible. The rest varies in sound and focus. "Hummingbird" quotes from the Baha'i scriptures and has a segmented structure with a chantlike opening and a sharp change in tempo, which didn't stop it from becoming a hit, and for all of its beauty, the soaring Marty Paich-arranged orchestral accompaniment, highlighted by lofty strings and a gorgeous horn part, never eclipses the core sound of the duo's singing and their acoustic guitar/mandolin combination. "Funny Little Man" mixes understated harmonies and acoustic instruments into an extended break that could almost pass for a classical piece. "Say" asks a lot of serious philosophical questions amid its rapid beat and playful tone. "East of Ginger Trees" is a hauntingly beautiful excursion into more Baha'i scripture, with delectable harmonies, a gorgeous mandolin part, and one of the most exquisitely restrained uses of orchestra of its era. "Fiddle in the Sky" shifts the album into purer country territory, while "The Boy Down the Road" moves listeners into a country-folk vein with a spookily melodramatic tale. "The Euphrates" picks up the tempo, providing an upbeat take on the meaning of life that loses none of its inherent sense of wonder. "Advance Guards" has that same sense of wonder, conveying it in a slower, more luxuriant setting, and the record ends on a rougher-hewn note with the more beat-driven, electric guitar-heavy "Yellow Dirt." Summer Breeze was the most highly regarded of all of Seals & Crofts' albums, a fact reflected by its reissue as part of the all too short-lived Warner Archives series in 1995, which also accounts for its far better than average sound. ~ Bruce Eder