Popdose’s Al Jarreau Week rolls on!

Written by Music, Popdose

I wouldn’t want to be the lone man out, so let me begin by opening this contribution to PopDose’s Al Jarreau Week by admitting that I, too, was hesitant when asked if I might want to chime in on the genius that is Mr. Jarreau. It’s not that I can’t get behind a tribute to the man; it’s simply that I’m not all that familiar with his back catalog.

hooksnyou.jpg

I do, however, have 1996’s Best of Al Jarreau, so I immediately broke out that disc in order to spin it and see which songs leapt out at me with instant familiarity. As it turned out, all I really had to do was glance at the track listing for memories of one of the songs to come flooding back: “We’re In This Love Together.” The finger-popping goodness and silky smooth synth and sax sounds of this track still hold up, at least to my well-aged ears. Jazz? Not so much. But given the way the hook has stuck with me for 25 years, it’s sure as hell a top-notch pop song. Listening to it now, it has the same effect that so many singles from the early ‘80s have on me: it makes me start to wax nostalgic about a time when tracks from various musical genres could sit comfortably side by side on the airwaves without having to be so damned segregated.

hooksnyou.jpg

And speaking of the early ‘80s, I always used to get Al Jarreau and George Benson mixed up back then (and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only who suffered from this malady), so I found it rather appropriate when I learned that the pair had teamed up in 2006 to release the collaborative effort, Givin’ It Up. As someone who gets inappropriately excited about a good cover song, it must be said that I probably enjoyed their take on Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” more than some, but the cover that really surprised me was Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me,” courtesy of an unexpected third vocalist: Sir Paul McCartney. You can always tell when Paul’s having fun rather than just phoning it in, and this is clearly a case of the former; when listening to the soulful vocal harmony between these three guys, it sounds like the feeling was mutual.

Unfortunately, that’s about all the love I can comfortably offer for our man Al without totally clutching at straws. But here’s to ya, Al, and let it be said that, if nothing else, you made enough of an impression on me in my youth that I think of you fondly even now. That should count for…um, probably either nothing or, if you’re in a really bad mood, maybe even less than nothing.

But, hey, at least, it’s from the heart.