lit80s.gif

Al JarreauThe e-mail went out to all us Popdosers a couple weeks ago: “Who’s interested in participating in Al Jarreau Week?” My initial reaction was that I couldn’t possibly be less interested, until someone, I think maybe Robert, pointed out that Al had once covered a song written by Green Gartside and David Gamson, aka Scritti Politti. That was enough for me to be in.

Warner Brothers must have had Scritti fever from 1985 to 1986, since the band hit the Top 40 with “Perfect Way” and the label partnered them with Chaka Khan for her single “Love of a Lifetime.” Warners was also home for Jarreau, so one can only assume the label suggested he record “L is for Lover” (download), a very Scritti ditty produced by Nile Rodgers that featured a witty, map-skipping wordplay chorus, courtesy of Green:

Maybe she’s looking
for you in London
L is for lover
Maybe she’s looking
for you in Boston
O is for an offer
Maybe she’s looking
for you in Houston
V you got to venture
Maybe she’s looking
for you in Kingston
E maybe forever

Rodgers did such a good job recreating the total Scritti sound that you can imagine Green’s vocals laid right over — I find it hard to believe it’s not just the original demo with Al singing over it, but Nile and various non-Scritti session musicians get sole credit on the sleeve, so we can chalk it up to staying faithful to the original, I suppose. “L is for Lover,” while a prime candidate for crossover success, failed to light up any charts, except for a middling performance on the R&B chart. Since the last Scritti R&B collaboration with Chaka suffered much the same fate, Warners apparently quit pushing the band on other artists on the roster, leaving us to enjoy one new Scritti Politti album in each decade since.

BONUS: Here’s a rare Scritti Politti b-side, “World Come Back To Life” (download), a song inexplicably left off 1988’s Provision — “inexplicably,” since it’s better than 95% of the tracks that made the album. You’ve never heard a better kiss-off song this week, at least.

“L is for Lover” peaked at #42 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart in 1986.

Get Al Jarreau music at Amazon or on Al Jarreau