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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Original Album Series

Warner 8122797697



CD 1: We Got By
1. Spirit
2. We Got By
3. Susan's Song
4. You Don't See Me
5. Lock all the Gates
6. Raggedy Ann
7. Letter Perfect
8. Sweet Potato Pie
9. Aladdin's lamp

CD 2: Glow
1. Rainbow in Your Eyes
2. Your Song
3. Agua de Beber
4. Have You Seen the Child?
5. Hold on Me
6. Fire and Rain
7. Somebody's Watching You
8. Milwaukee
9. Glow
CD 3: All Fly Home
1. Thinkin' about it Too
2. I'm Home
3. Brite 'n' Sunny Babe
4. I do
5. Fly
6. Wait a Little While
7. She's Leaving Home
8. All
9. (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay
CD 4: This Time
1. Never Givin' Up
2. Gimmie What You Got
3. Love is Real
4. Alonzo
5. (If I could only) Change your Mind
6. Spain (I Can Recall)
7. Distracted
8. Your Sweet Love
9. (A Rhyme) This Time
CD 5: Breakin' Away
1. Closer to Your Love
2. My Old Friend
3. We're in This Love Together
4. Easy
5. Our Love
6. Breakin' Away
7. Roof Garden
8. (Round, round, round) Blue Rondo la Turk
9. Teach Me Tonight

A new batch of Warner's "Original Album Series" includes this collection of five reissued LPs in cardboard covers, with the original track and personnel details on the back covers reduced to microscopic size so as to make them virtually unreadable. But at least you get the music from five albums dating between 1975 and 1981.

Sadly these don't include my favourite Al Jarreau album - Look to the Rainbow - a brilliant live recording from 1977. Yet this collection contains some fine examples of his singing, which won him Grammy awards in three separate sections: jazz., R & B, and pop. He seemed to move gradually from jazz into more "popular" areas as his career progressed. But ultimately he is uncategorizable, as he embraces numerous styles. He scats and improvises like a complete jazz vocalist but he also sings with the passion that makes for soul, and he sometimes embraces the showmanship of a Las Vegas entertainer.

His free delivery can make the lyrics inaudible, which can be exacerbated by heavy backings. Highlights of this package include Hold on Me (where multi-tracking creates an intriguing Jarreau chorus); Fire and Rain (more jazzy and soulful than James Taylor's version); She's Leaving Home (a Beatles song transformed by the Jarreau magic); his seemingly miraculous transmutation of Chick Corea's Spain; Thinkin' about it Too (with an irresistible beat); We're in This Love Together (his first British hit in 1981); and the title-track of Breakin' Away.

But these albums are full of examples of Al Jarreau's ability to make songs his own, often by taking huge but adventurous liberties.

Tony Augarde

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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