The name of Kenny Loggins does not exactly scream “rock and roll.” He’s spent the last 20 years as an adult-contemporary balladeer. The 1991 album Leap of Faith produced three big AC radio hits and was the epitome of tasteful; in 1994, the similarly tasteful Return to Pooh Corner went platinum. His last big radio hit was 1997’s “For the First Time,” which went to Number One on the adult-contemporary chart and was his last Hot 100 entry to date. He’s spent the last decade alternating soft-rock albums with children’s albums and Christmas discs.
In the middle of the 1980s, Loggins was one of the kings of the soundtrack single: Of his nine Hot 100 singles between 1984 and 1988, six were from movies, including the Number-One single “Footloose,” Number Two “Danger Zone” (from Top Gun), and Number Eight “Nobody’s Fool” (from Caddyshack II). His other singles from that period, such as “I’m Free,” “Forever,” and “Meet Me Halfway,” were power-ballad productions that have “mid-80s” written all over ’em. Before the soundtrack years, Loggins’ biggest hits were the extremely fine “Whenever I Call You Friend” in 1978, and “I’m Alright” (a movie song itself, from Caddyshack) in 1980. Also recommended: the single “Easy Driver” from 1978, and I still dig “This Is It” from 1980.
Back in the 70s, before the world of pop duos was conquered by Hall and Oates, it was ruled by Loggins and Messina, who were rock ‘n’ roll credible. Their first album was conceived as a Loggins solo project with Jim Messina producing, but was eventually titled Kenny Loggins With Jim Messina Sittin’ In, and featured the original recording of “Danny’s Song.” Later in 1972, the album Loggins and Messina was propelled into the Top 20 by the hit singles “Your Mama Don’t Dance” and “Thinking of You”; their next three albums, Full Sail, On Stage, and Mother Lode, hit the Top 10. They stayed together through 1976, and if you don’t own anything else of theirs, I’ll bet their 1976 album The Best of Friends is on your shelf someplace.
Before joining with Messina, Loggins was a contract songwriter, penning several tunes recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, including “House at Pooh Corner,” which he would later record himself. He also worked as a musician, playing with a touring version of the Electric Prunes although not recording with them. And for a brief time in the late 1960s, he was part of a band called Second Helping. Not much is known about Second Helping; they were based in Pasadena, California, where Loggins was attending college. After winning a talent contest, they cut some sides for the Viva label. They’re garage-y, psychedelic, and vastly different from the stuff Loggins would do with Messina, let alone his solo balladry—but there he is, right in the middle of the clatter.
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“Let Me In”/Second Helping
“Floating Downstream on an Inflatable Rubber Raft”/Second Helping
(buy ’em here along with more obscure garage psychedelia from Los Angeles)