Captain and Tennille are known for their romantic pop tunes, crooned by Toni Tennille, with her husband Daryl Dragon on piano. While the duo has had several hits through the years, only a few have become standards outside of adult contemporary radio. Here are ten examples of what makes Captain and Tennille great.
10. Shop Around
Captain and Tennille were a band in search of a sound. Their first two albums were filled with covers, mostly pop tunes from artists like Neil Sedaka. But at the same time, they were recording original songs to be played live on piano. The third album would prove pivotal for the duo’s future direction. Daryl Dragon had been playing around with a chord progression he’d developed and turned it over to Toni Tennille for lyrics. She came up with “Shop Around” but was still looking for inspiration. When she returned home, Dragon had already completed the song’s music. The result is one of Captain and Tennille’s signature songs, their first Top 10 hit, and the theme to their TV show.
9. Come In From the Rain
The duo had their first proper hit in 1975 with “Love Will Keep Us Together,” written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. A year later, they would continue the success of that song with another tune written by Sedaka and Greenfield, called “Come In From The Rain.” The lyrics are a little sadder than most of their songs, but there’s still a sense of optimism about the future. And it was another Top 10 hit for Captain and Tennille, almost exactly one year after “Love Will Keep Us Together.”
8. The Way I Want To Touch You
The first single released from Captain and Tennille’s third album was a little too far ahead of its time. “I Write the Songs” is now sung by Barry Manilow in his concerts, but at the time, it didn’t go over well with pop radio or even adult contemporary. But what’s interesting about this song is that Toni Tennille sings lead for the entire piece. Daryl Dragon’s role is to provide harmonies, not play on the piano. That didn’t happen again until “Do That to Me One More Time” in 1979.
7. I’m On My Way
This song is essentially a reprise of “Do That to Me One More Time,” but it works because it brings the listener back to that time and place. Both songs recall an era of big band music in their instrumentation. Still, they’re also tied together by a certain lushness that came from their collaborations with producer Tony Orlando in the mid-1970s. Toni Tennille’s vocals are also more mature on this track than in “Do That to Me One More Time” as well.
6. You Need a Woman Tonight
Captain and Tennille recorded songs intended for other artists for their sixth album. The title track was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David especially for them, while “I’m A Lady” came from Rod Stewart’s sessions at the time. These are among the duo’s best songs of the 1970s because they’re slightly slicker than the other tracks on this list. These songs are written by professional songwriters, recorded with top session musicians, and aimed at adult contemporary radio. They’re not bubblegum pop. But they also retain the themes of love and optimism that Captain and Tennille had perfected by this point in their career.
5. Lonely Night (Angel Face)
For their third album, Captain and Tennille released a song that felt like it could have been written for them. Daryl Dragon’s childhood friend Mike Hawker wrote the lyrics about two people who meet at a dance hall one night. This track has sparing production values because of its live recording location in a hotel ballroom, and it works in the song’s favor because of its nostalgic quality.
4. You Never Done It Like That
This is the first song on which Toni Tennille sang lead. She took over for Daryl Dragon during live performances of this song because her voice was more potent than his, and she had just 15 days to prepare before touring started. So it’s not necessarily better than “Do That to Me One More Time,” but it does recall that song’s sound. It’s also the first song they released as part of their “7” album, which had seven songs intended for other artists. The rest of the album is filled out with several compositions by Toni Tennille and Daryl Dragon. Still, this one stood out because it was recorded at Muscle Shoals Studio in Alabama.
This song was written and originally recorded by the band Dusty in Memphis, producing Daryl Dragon’s first solo album. The Captain and Tennille version is notable because it has a distinctive sound unheard of on any earlier recordings. When “Circles” was released as a single in 1980, it reached No. Thirty-two on the pop charts and No. 2 on the adult contemporary charts – which is where it belonged all along.
2. Do That to Me One More Time
This is one of the few songs that Daryl Dragon sings lead on. It’s also unique because it was recorded in Japan, where the duo enjoyed a good deal of success after doing previous tours in Asia. “Do That to Me One More Time” sounds similar to Stevie Wonder’s earlier productions, but with Toni Tennille’s vocals taking the lead. The song’s appeal comes from its high energy and bubbly keyboards, which remain highly catchy decades after its release. This is one of Captain and Tennille’s signature songs.
1. Muskrat Love
This track was written by Willis Alan Ramsey, who intended it to be a country and western-style song about an encounter with an anthropomorphic muskrat. The Captain and Tennille version is more pop than country, but it’s also better because of its lyrics which emphasize the strength of attraction between the two characters. This track is a refreshingly honest and playful take on the idea of love at first sight. It’s one of their most underrated songs and proof that they could usually do better than the material given to them by professional songwriters.
Captain and Tennille were an American pop duo formed in the early 1970s. The husband-and-wife team of Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille recorded several songs together between 1975 and 1977 before breaking up to pursue solo careers. They reunited in 2010 for a successful theater tour, but they have not made any new music since then.