Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Loggins and Messina [extended]

  • Sittin' In [Columbia, 1972] C
  • The Best of Friends [Columbia, 1976] C+
  • Keep the Fire [Columbia, 1979] C+
  • Vox Humana [Columbia, 1985] C+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sittin' In [Columbia, 1972]
This session is where engineer-producer Messina was supposed to escape group life, but no such luck. Despite the transcendent melody of "Danny's Song," Loggins makes like Richie Furay only squarer, and this sounds like more it's "serious." C

The Best of Friends [Columbia, 1976]
I suppose this compilation deserves points for hummability and getting it over with--eight of the ten songs are from the first two albums, so it's about time--but there's just too much to forgive. The memory of K. clapping his hands like a seal while exhorting a Cheech & Chong crowd to "boogie." The memory of FM programmers offering up "You Mama Don't Dance" as a tribute to the uptempo demons. The note that compares that song to "Wilbur Harrison's version of `Kansas City'" (it's Wilbert, you ignorami, and it sure ain't "Kansas City"). And especially the note that connects the even limper "My Music" to "the simplicity of the early Chuck Berry days." The nerve. Chuck Berry had genius, energy, soul, spunk, wit, irreverence, brains, urgency, a good beat, a criminal record, a number-one record, brown skin, a pompadour, and a duckwalk. All they've got is a million dollars--or less, I hope. C+

Kenny Loggins: Keep the Fire [Columbia, 1979]
I used to think Kenny had no sense of rhythm, but his problems were actually less severe--he just couldn't rock. This Tom Dowd-produced Doobie-disco job swings just like Jesse Colin Young. And if you think it isn't Doobie-disco, tell me why the one great song on the record was written with Michael McDonald. "This Is It," it's called, and it is. C+

Kenny Loggins: Vox Humana [Columbia, 1985]
"My goal was to transform my music into a more and more personal medium," says this harmless case study in contemporary pop of his first self-produced album, so he must think a lot about "love," a word which appears in seven of the nine songs. The subject is all-important for sure, but tricky to make new, as they say. Loggins succeeded in 1979 with the put-up-or-shut-up epiphany "This Is It." Here he hopes his rhythmic savvy and supple falsetto prove epiphany enough for Contemporary Hits Radio. Which given the promotional budget and catchy arrangement of the confidently entitled title tune, they already have. C+