Leo Sayer

Leo Sayer

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Leo Sayer Review

by Joe Viglione

Richard Perry's 1978 production of the self-titled Leo Sayer album is one of the artist's most serious and heartfelt, though it only generated a minor hit in the cover of the Boudleau Bryant/Felice Bryant tune "Raining in My Heart." With Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham on electric guitar, Waddy Wachtel on slide guitar, and Ben Benay on acoustic, the performance and production of that particular song offers much on an album that is equally impressive. James Brown/Russell Smith's "Dancing the Night Away," with David Lindley's important and unobtrusive fiddle and steel guitar, and "Stormy Weather," the Tom Snow/Leo Sayer collaboration which opens the album, all work in unison, providing evidence that Sayer had superstardom just within his grasp. It's also interesting to note the recurring themes, from the previous album's "Thunder in My Heart" hit single to this album's "Raining in My Heart," or the aforementioned "Dancing the Night Away" as a loose sequel to his first number one hit, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing." Perry's production is perfect, and it's interesting to note that the engineer here, Bill Schnee, wasn't able to give Kiki Dee the same finesse for her Stay With Me album which he produced this same year, with some of the same musicians, like Jeff Porcaro, Steve Lukather, Tom Snow, James Newton Howard (Sayer's musical director), David Paich, Davey Johnstone...that's a lot of overlap on two distinctly different albums. Lindsey Buckingham plays acoustic guitar and provides backing vocals with Sayer on the cover of Jackson Browne's "Something Fine" and stays on board for the next number, a Tom Snow co-write with Johnny Vastano that is "Running to My Freedom." This musical composite should have been dynamite on the charts, the soulful vocals adding to the style of music the Eagles, Jackson Browne, and Fleetwood Mac were all so successful with at this point in time. Perhaps the straying from the style he was so comfortable with on the previous outing hurt Sayer at radio. Ray Parker, Jr. co-writes "Frankie Lee" with Sayer, and it's some strange folk/funk combo which, like the Thunder in My Heart album, is a diversion which throws the listener. Two Tom Snow/Leo Sayer compositions end this unique snapshot, the harder-rocking "Don't Look Away" and the closing ballad "No Looking Back." The artist would look back as David Courtney came back to produce 1979's Here, and in 1980, Sayer would achieve chart success again with the Alan Tarney-produced Living in a Fantasy, but this Richard Perry/Leo Sayer combination was a very worthwhile venture, and this album is one of the artist's most respectable in a large body of good work.

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