Our last reviews of the year include albums by The Doobie Brothers, Boz Scaggs, Carly Simon, Marc Jordan and Al Jarreau.
“THE CAPTAIN AND ME” BY THE DOOBIE BROTHERS (1973)
In 1973, the Doobie Brothers had to work quickly to finish their third album, “The Captain and Me”. They started reworking some old songs, including an instrumental track written by Tom Johnston titled “Osborn”. Johnston had struggled to write a lyric for the song. “Do a lyric about a train,” suggested producer Ted Templeman. The result was “Long Train Runnin'”, one of the band’s biggest hits. The album contains other classics like “China Grove”, “Without You” and the country-rock ballad “South City Midnight Lady” – with a young guitarist called Jeff Baxter from Steely Dan, who contributed pedal steel guitar on this song and became a permanent band member a year later (not the last Dan import…). “The Captain and Me” became a double platinum success and is still a classic of the band.
“DOWN TWO THEN LEFT” BY BOZ SCAGGS (1977)
Only one year after his million-selling classic “Silk Degrees”, Bozz Scaggs’ “Down Two Then Left” failed to live up to the high expectations of critics and the public and did not make it into the Top Ten. There was no lack of support: studio masters like Jay Graydon, Steve Lukather, Michael Omartian, Ray Parker Jr. and Jeff Porcaro played on this record, but the album suffered from a thin and weak production and a low hit potential of the song material. Still, there are true song gems like the R&B-tinged “A Clue” and the breezy “Whatcha Gonna Tell Your Man” that are classics in his repertoire. Three years later, Boz Scaggs celebrated a brilliant resurgence in the charts with “Middle Man”.
“BOYS IN THE TREES” BY CARLY SIMON (1978)
Carly Simon’s 7th album “Boys In The Trees” is pure late 70s pop luxury. With a tailor-made production by Arif Mardin and accompanied by top-class studio musicians like Steve Gadd, Eric Gale, Will Lee, Richard Tee and the Brecker Brothers, Simon’s record convinces not least with its excellent songwriting. Stunning ballads like “You’re The One” or the disco-inspired “Tranquillo (Melt My Heart)” are outstanding. The highlight, however, is the brilliant “You Belong To Me”, a collaboration with Michael McDonald, enhanced by the terrific saxophone work of David Sandborn. Pure class!
“BLUE DESERT” BY MARC JORDAN (1979)
Marc Jordan’s second album “Blue Desert” represents the West Coast music of the late 70s in all its brilliance. The record combines the most important features of the genre: polished songwriting, slick production (by Jay Graydon), the right amount of jazzy grooves and outstanding musicianship. Of course, this album features a number of great studio musicians such as Michael Omartian, Ray Parker Jr, Jeff Porcaro, Bill Champlin and Steve Lukather. Following his debut ‘Mannequin’, ‘Blue Desert’ is Jordan’s second masterpiece and a true West Coast classic.
Read our in-depth interview with Marc Jordan HERE
“BREAKIN’ AWAY” BY AL JARREAU (1981)
Al Jarreau’s 1981 “Breakin’ Away” is a unique fusion of L.A. West Coast perfection, sophisticated smooth jazz and R&B grandeur, spiced with Latin ease. Jarreau’s vocal acrobatics on this record, honed over years in churches and jazz clubs, are brilliant and soulful, enriched by his unique scat singing. Producer Jay Graydon and an incredible cast of musicians – including George Duke, David Foster, Steve Lukather, Michael Omartian and Jeff Porcaro – set the stage for his dazzling musical journey. “Breakin’ Away” was Jarreau’s most successful album – artistically and commercially; crowned by two Grammy awards, for Best Male Pop Vocalist and Best Male Jazz Vocal Performance. Masterpiece!