I wouldnÁ¢€™t want to be the lone man out, so let me begin by opening this contribution to PopDoseÁ¢€™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. ItÁ¢€™s not that I canÁ¢€™t get behind a tribute to the man; itÁ¢€™s simply that IÁ¢€™m not all that familiar with his back catalog.
I do, however, have 1996Á¢€™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: Á¢€Å“We’re In This Love Together.Á¢€ 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, itÁ¢€™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 Á¢€Ëœ80s 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.
And speaking of the early Á¢€Ëœ80s, I always used to get Al Jarreau and George Benson mixed up back then (and I have a sneaking suspicion that IÁ¢€™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, GivinÁ¢€™ 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 & CroftsÁ¢€™ Á¢€Å“Summer BreezeÁ¢€ more than some, but the cover that really surprised me was Sam CookeÁ¢€™s Á¢€Å“Bring It On Home To Me,Á¢€ courtesy of an unexpected third vocalist: Sir Paul McCartney. You can always tell when PaulÁ¢€™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, thatÁ¢€™s about all the love I can comfortably offer for our man Al without totally clutching at straws. But hereÁ¢€™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 forÁ¢€¦um, probably either nothing or, if youÁ¢€™re in a really bad mood, maybe even less than nothing.
But, hey, at least, itÁ¢€™s from the heart.