Graded on a Curve:
The Captain & Tennille, Love Will Keep Us Together

A few remarks on Captain and Tennille’s immensely successful 1975 debut LP Love Will Keep Us Together.

1. It should have been entitled, Buy This Album or We’ll Shoot These Dogs. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of when I look at that cover is “My God. They’ve taken hostages.”

2. Talk about your sexism. Who appointed Daryl Dragon Captain? Tennille should have mutinied and made him walk the plank.

3. The Grammy Award-winning title track of this enormously popular slab of G-rated family entertainment was followed, oddly enough, by an X-rated paean to interspecies dating entitled “Muskrat Love.” And I’m not the only family values advocate who was shocked by this. Here’s Toni Tennille, talking about the duo’s audience before royal company: “So, we performed and then the next day, lo and behold, it hit the papers that the Captain & Tennille had performed an ‘obscene’ song for Queen Elizabeth. Now, I have performed this song many times… and I still have not figured out what’s ‘obscene’ about it!” Toni, Toni, Toni–you’re not fooling anyone.

4. As the proud owner of a copy of Mark Bego’s quickie paperback Captain & Tennille: An Unauthorized Biography (1977: Tempo Books) I can tell you that Dragon’s sun is in Virgo, Tennille’s is in Taurus, and that the late Rona “Queen of Gossip Columnists” Barrett was both a close personal friend and humongous fan. As was the late, great rock impresario Don Kirshner, who gushed, “They can’t miss because they’re a fun couple, and they’re terrific singer/musicians!” And then there’s this, from Angelo Jurkovich of Vidal Sassoon Beverly Hills, who was responsible for Toni’s “trademark look”: [Her hair] has a lot of body, and when you cut it, it has so much movement and body!” Wow! Her hair has so much body he said it twice!

5. Daryl is a retiring guy who likes to stay in the background behind his keybs, but don’t let that fool you; behind those dark glasses lurks the musical genius responsible for making Love Will Keep Us Together such a gonzo piece of gauzy musical entertainment. Just check out the positively insane “Broddy Bounce,” with its wacky synthesizer, French-influenced vocals, and series of dog commands by Toni. “Lie down! Roll over! Good boy!” Perhaps this isn’t a G-rated LP after all.

6. Toni Tennille can handle the lightweight pop tunes, but God help us all when she attempts to emote. She turns Beach Boy Bruce Johnston’s immortal “Disney Girls” into a gag fest, and poor Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows” into bad rock opera (although she gets a big assist from Dragon, who arranges the song to death). And the two are guilty of criminal conspiracy in the case of B. Johnston’s “I Write the Songs,” their version of which should be enough to convince anybody that Barry Manilow is a far better interpreter than we’ve ever given him credit for.

7. Toni (I feel like the two of us are on a first name basis, so there) does her best attempt to sound sultry on “The Way I Want to Touch You,” but reveals she’d really prefer to be a non-sexual being on the Dragon-Dennis Wilson composition “Cuddle Up.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t sound very pliable or cuddly; she sounds wooden. Over-singing isn’t a character defect with Tennille; it’s a way of life. Then again, it’s not a very cuddly song. It’s another slice of lousy operatics.

8. “The Good Songs” is about good songs. “The Good Songs” isn’t one of them. Toni aims for soul. She nails bad show biz.

9. Toni again does her darnedest to raunch it up on “Feel Like a Man.” She does not make me feel like a man. She makes me feel like breaking this album.

10. An uncharitable Robert Christgau said of this album, “… they spread the middle of the road so thin they make ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ sound like ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.’” I can only add that I would love to hear a Captain and Tennille cover of “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” I would rush out and buy 5 copies immediately, and send them to my worst enemies.

11. Say what you want about Captain & Tennille, “Love Will Keep Us Together” is a great song. It has a great herky-jerky groove, the synthesizer is all plastic elastic like Gumby on quaaludes, and Toni sounds jam-packed with spunk. Wait. That didn’t come out the way I wanted.

12. Toni Tennille, as quoted in Mark Bego’s book: “Because of Daryl’s and my understanding, I am limited in the roles I can play on television or in movies. He won’t let me kiss anyone, so I won’t take any role that requires a physical love scene.” Message to Toni: Fuck the Captain. Abandon ship. Footnote: In 2014, she did just that.

13. It’s not widely known, but America’s favorite performing couple were directly responsible for inspiring Ian MacKaye to invent straightedge. The Captain, from Bego’s book: “I don’t believe in self-destructiveness of any kind. That’s why we eat natural foods. It is also why neither of us ever took any drugs. It is also why slam dancing has become such a problem at our shows.” Okay, so I made that last sentence up.

14. Love Will Keep Us Together is not a very good album. It is, in fact, a godawful album. I only barely managed to listen to it in its entirety because my left ear kept developing a charley horse. As for my right ear, it shut down in protest after “Broddy Bounce.”

15. Captain and Tennille! Come out with your hands up! And release your hostages!

GRADED ON A CURVE:
D

This entry was posted in The TVD Storefront. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text