Personnel: Toni Tennille (vocals, piano, electric piano, background vocals); Melissa Tennille (vocals, background vocals); Gary Sims (bass voice, background vocals); Gene Morford (bass voice); Daryl Dragon (guitar, piano, keyboards, bass guitar); Captain (guitar, keyboards); Michael Price (trumpet); Hal Blanc, Hal Blaine (drums, congas, percussion); Dennis Dragon, Ed Greene (drums); Michael E. Mathis (congas); Clark Burroughs, Jane Tennille, Andy Boettner, Louisa Tennille, Myrna Matthews (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Daryl Dragon; Dennis Dragon; Roger Young; Roland Young .
Photographers: Neal Preston; Mark Hanauer.
Arrangers: Daryl Dragon; Captain.
Soft rock duo Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille definitely didn't fit everybody's notions of cool. "Muskrat Love" is a quintessential slice of novelty cheese that could only have scored during the '70s. But it's unfair to judge them by something they didn't write and isn't representative of their career. (However, Dragon's bare-chested poses on the original gatefold sleeve definitely fell into the "what were they thinking?" file.) Otherwise, there aren't any blemishes on this roundup of their first three A&M albums -- a commercial coup accorded to few acts so early in their careers. The buoyant "Love Will Keep Us Together" is the natural opener -- and set the template for a style centered around Dragon's lush, baroque keyboards and Tennille's breathy, intimate vocals. The song also showed the duo's good taste in material; it's one of three hits written by Neil Sedaka, whose "Lonely Nights (Angel Face)" is also included. Tennille is exceptional form, especially on "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" and an evocative version of "Disney Girls," by former Beach Boys vocalist Bruce Johnston. He also gave them "I Write the Songs," which naturally differs from the Barry Manilow hit version; the massed vocal choir at the intro shows the tricks that presumably rubbed off from Dragon's early-'70s touring days with the Beach Boys. 1990s-era compilations have supplanted this album's relevance, but the track listing shows how smart cherry-picking of a back catalog can serve casual and committed fans alike. Most of the tunes stand up, so why apologize for picking up this guilty pleasure? ~ Ralph Heibutzki