For reasons I'd rather not go into, I didn't get a yearbook for my freshman year of high school. So, after a 32 year pity party, I recently found a copy available on eBay. I just paid twice what I remember the yearbook originally selling for, but as you can probably imagine, I would have paid much more than that.
I received the yearbook in the mail this week, so I'm taking some time this morning to pore over the pages. Newsflash: well-intentioned 17-year-old high school kids put together pretty crappy yearbooks. Nonetheless, I'm enjoying this trip down selective memory lane. So what's this all got to do with Grover Washington, Jr.? See personal memory below.
This CD is an uneven compilation, with 10 tracks culled from only 4 of the 6 albums Washington released on the Elektra label between 1979-84. But seven of the ten tracks are taken from Washington's top two albums (in my book): Come Morning and Winelight. I had those two albums recorded on either side of a cassette tape back in high school (which probably explains why they're my favorites). It's all a smooth combination of R&B and jazz. Despite its unevenness, I like it and have fond memories of listening back in the '80s, so even the cheesier tracks don't bother me. There are some top session musicians on these cuts: Steve Gadd, Richard Tee, Marcus Miller, and Ralph McDonald to name a few.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Tracks: The top track is the full 7:24 version of #2 hit, Just The Two Of Us, a duet with Bill Withers. I'm talking FULL version with extended sax solo and a steel drum solo by Robert Greenidge. Other top tracks are East River Drive and Jet Stream. The aforementioned cheese includes Little Black Samba and a cover of Bob Marley's Jammin', but I don't skip anything.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: When I was a freshman, I could best be described as an annoying, scrawny 14 year old geek. I never ended up with my head stuck down a toilet, a fact which surprises me to this day. (On a related note, I strongly relate to the Sam Weir character on the wonderful 1999 TV series Freaks And Geeks.)
No comments about the cowlicks, please; I've had a bad hair life. Like any new high school student, I searched for extracurricular activities where 1) I'd kinda sorta fit in, and 2) I wouldn't get beat up. So, in addition to playing in the school band, I got involved in the drama program (neither of these activities did anything to jeopardize my standing as an annoying, scrawny 14 year old geek).
In the spring of 1981, I was doing some sort of crew work backstage one afternoon and we had the radio on. Just The Two Of Us came on the air. I liked the song from the first time I heard it and I'm fairly sure I had recorded it off the radio. In any case, I sang along while I worked. Another drama student, an African American junior named Ronnie, overheard and couldn't believe a skinny white kid would be familiar with an R&B tune (little did he know...). He said something like, "Check out Mark! He knows this tune! Sing it, boy! Alright!" Before I knew it, I was surrounded by 4 or 5 other geeks and we had a little dance party backstage. For a brief moment, I kinda sorta fit in. Looking through my "new" annual this morning, I saw a photo of Ronnie. I wonder if he still digs Grover Washington, Jr.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Prime Cuts: The Columbia Years 1987-1999 (1999)
All My Tomorrows (1994)
Time Out of Mind (1989)