Leo Sayer

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Here Review

by Joe Viglione

Reunited with David Courtney, the producer of his first American hit "Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)" from 1975's Just A Boy LP, Leo Sayer's first album after three with Richard Perry yielded no significant hits in America but is a refined and entertaining chapter in the minstrel's history. There are two co-writes with Courtney, one with Ray Parker, Jr. who racked up 13 hits of his own between 1978 and 1990, a version of Al Kooper's "Lost Control" with Kooper on organ and synths, and one of the most telling tracks, a nice remake of the Chi Lites' 1972 number one hit "Oh Girl." This is notable because most of Sayer's material is usually original work written by him or his colleagues, relatively unknown titles, with the exception of the Supremes' "Reflections" on Endless Flight from 1976, and his minor hit with the 1959 composition by Felice Bryant and Boudleaux Bryant, "Raining in My Heart," off of 1978's Leo Sayer. Sayer had gotten into a good groove as an interpreter and may have benefited by resurrecting other more popular titles. The focus seems to have been on his songwriting or picking new material, and while his collaboration on "Work" with Johnny Vastano and Tom Snow has a Rod Stewart kind of feel, especially with Duck Dunn and Steve Cropper sitting in, it is still the Chi Lites cover which emerges as the gem on this interesting departure from Richard Perry's counsel. The eerie reggae of "Ghosts" is interesting, but like "Who Will the Next Fool Be" and "The World Has Changed," these songs were not going to shake up the Top 40. "Takin' the Easy Way Out" is like a nice Elton John-style album track, and it may have influenced Elton's '80s work, that artist having made it clear he absorbs all the pop music around him before going into his creative mode. With the Phil Spector sheen that influenced Billy Joel and Eddie Money, "Takin' the Easy Way Out" is a perfect closer and might have become a Leo Sayer staple had FM radio stayed progressive. Alas, a very musical departure like this is artistically fulfilling, David Courtney letting the Just a Boy concept grow up with more polished sounds and legends like Al Kooper adding a touch of class to the proceedings, but invariably it was not the avenue for this hit artist to take at this critical juncture. Enough of a Top 40 legacy was not generated at this point in time to suggest this act moving to the album market. Here remains a quality product that has been largely forgotten over the years.

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