Cosmo and Robetta
Notes by Robb Royer
In late 1971, I left the band ‘Bread’. I had always planned to leave the road life early to work on film projects but tensions between David Gates and myself accelerated the process a little.
Later in 1971 David Kaufman and I sold a pitch for a movie called ‘Black Angel’ to AIP Pictures, but they were unhappy with the subsequent screenplay and despite announcing in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter that the picture would be made, it never was.
Jimmy Griffin (who opted to remain with Bread) and I continued to write songs for the group and during this period we wrote ‘Dream Lady’, ‘Games of Magic’ and ‘Let Me Go’ and others.
But I found I still had the itch to record so I built an 8-track studio in my house and Jimmy and I began recording songs from a project we had worked on in college, ‘The Plastic Sibling.’ ‘The Plastic Sibling’ was a small theater-in-the-round musical by David Kaufman and Michel Levesque. Music was by Jimmy Griffin and myself with lyrics by Tim Hallinan, David Kaufman and Richard Blakeslee. (I threw in one lyric by accident.)
The 1972 demo album of the ‘Sibling’ had some fairly interesting participants: besides Jimmy, roles were sung by Kerry Chater and Ronee Blakely (who soon thereafter appeared in the Robert Altman movie ‘Nashville’). ‘Sibling’ was charming but was unfortunately never performed. It was intended to be presented in the Little Theater at Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge), but by the time it was finished, most of us had drifted out of school. Then Bread came along and life took off in a different direction.
It was while working on the ‘Sibling’ songs in ’72 that a different idea began running around in my head. I wanted to project the parlor drama onto a much larger scale so (with Michel Levesque’s permission) David Kaufman and I began working on a treatment. We finished in April 1973, almost simultaneously with the birth of my daughter, Jessie. It was called ‘Cosmo and Robetta’.
In Cosmo, the characters in ‘Sibling’ were inflated into corporations, concepts, kinky rockstars, industrialists etc. Instead of a living room the stage was pretty much the whole universe.
Jimmy and I began recording it almost immediately after the treatment was finished. Bread had now broken up for the first time and David Gates was testing a solo career.
Actually so was Jimmy. Polydor records had signed us to produce a solo album on Jimmy which, looking back, must have been pretty much simultaneous with the ‘Cosmo’ recording. The main difference was Jimmy’s album (being budgeted) was recorded in large studios with ‘A’ players while ‘Cosmo’ was cut in my home studio with Jimmy and I playing virtually everything. (The most visible thing to come from the Polydor album was a song called ‘She Knows’ which was subsequently recorded by Ray Charles and The Band. Viewed through the mists of time, it seems like it must have been a pretty busy period.
All that being prologue, I wanted to leave these liner notes on the ‘Cosmo & Robetta’ recording, 1973-1974.