Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Al Jarreau - Breakin' Away (1981)


I was a huge fan of producer Jay Graydon's West Coast sound before I even knew there was a name for that subgenre. Now I'm an all-in, unapologetic lover of this smooth stuff (why should music that is pleasant immediately be dismissed as shallow or inferior?).  Half-time shuffles, lots of Fender Rhodes, tasty horn licks, and the usual West Coast session cats.  While this album as a whole isn't quite as good as its follow-up, Jarreau, it runs a very close second.  Those two together are a great pairing, for sure.  The music is so positive and Jarreau just sounds like he's happy and having a great time.  It's contagious.  Case in point: on one of my early songwriting attempts around 1983 or '84, after many hours of hard work, I realized all I had done is rip off the title track of this album.  It was completely derivative, but at least it was my derivation (I think I titled my song 'Til I Met You).  At the very least, it was an indication of how deep this music had embedded itself into my subconscious around that time.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #9
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #1
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #1
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #9

Tracks:  I can't pick a favorite; I enjoy the whole thing.  On the rare occasions when I skip a track, it's the cover of Brubeck's Blue Rondo A La Turk.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  For the most part, this album takes me back to early '80s young innocence.  However, one day when I was giving a friend a ride in college, I had my dubbed cassette copy of this album in my Pioneer deck.  At the opening scatting of track 4, Easy, she turned to me, scrunched up her face, and said something like, "You sure listen to some weird music, Mark."  I guess she would have been happier if I had been playing Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.  Ironically, I sang some weird music at her wedding a few years later.

Not too long after that ride, I was giving a ride to another college friend when the final track, a cover of the 1953 pop standard Teach Me Tonight, came on.  Dare I call it the definitive version of the song?  My passenger just closed his eyes and said, "Preach on, brother! Listen to him.  He wants his squeeze to teach him right!  And he wants her teach him tonight!  Sing it!"  Preach on, Al.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Givin' It Up (2006)
L is for Lover (1986)
High Crime (1984)
Jarreau (1983)

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