Mastered from the original master tapes and strictly limited to 2,000 copies, Mobile Fidelity's numbered-edition hybrid SACD delivers engrossing levels of warmth, clarity, nuance, and smoothness that elevate Bread's 1972 release to audiophile heights. For the first time, the quartet's polished musicianship and vocal blends come across as if you're hearing them happen live in the studio. Previously muddled elements are clarified, and the band's choruses and treble-ringing notes opened up so they can fully blossom, pulling you closer to the combination of serious emotion and comic-infused romance. In particular, leader David Gates' quasi-falsetto and other vocal touches get their just due.
Baby I'm-A Want You spills over with vocal goodness on par with the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. In his feature review for Rolling Stone, David Lubin observed: "Melodically and vocally Gates approaches the best of his love songs with a freshness that makes him, as did the early and middle [Paul] McCartney, sound like he's never ever said before those words 'he's longed to say.' Even when the ballads on the album are suffused with the passion of unrequited love, Bread never forces [its] feelings upon you. [The group] has developed an undefinable taste, or class, whatever you want to call it, which was totally absent in [the past]."
The evidence arrives in the form of a quartet of songs that dominated the Billboard Top 100 charts – the title track (which climbed to #3), "Everything I Own," "Diary," and "Mother Freedom." Throughout, melodramatic strains, complementary keyboard lines, and a fine equilibrium of poised grit and well-crafted instrumentation dot the music with sequin-like detail that glistens anew and rewards repeat listening. Bread's mix of sentimental ballads and revved-up rock tracks ("Down on My Knees," "Nobody Like You") furthers the appeal of a record teeming with sweet and sour flavors.
It's also worth mentioning Baby I'm-A Want You marks the first appearance of Grammy-winning pianist/organist Jimmy Knechtel on a Bread album. Together with Gates, guitarist and Academy Award-winner Jimmy Griffin, and in-the-pocket drummer Mike Botts, Knechtel gives the quartet the butter its songs need – and the ingredients missing from some of its earlier work. Puns aside, the delicious back beats, buzzing guitars, complementary keyboard runs, and steadying bass evident on every track serve to confirm all 12 songs are bread winners – literally and figuratively.