Monday, January 06, 2003

Some love for Leo Sayer

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I remember reading somewhere, in somebody's blog, where 70s icon and Aughts has-been Leo Sayer was getting some badmouthing. Now, I can understand this, and have in fact badmouthed him myself on many occasions after hearing his lame mid-to-late 70s (i.e., anything from or after "Endless Flight") music.

But there was a time, boys and girls, there was a time...when our Leo had pretensions. And was partnered with songwriters like Adam Faith and Dave Courtney that helped him realize those pretensions. Mr. Sayer released three albums, Silverbird, Just A Boy, and Another Year, that were on a par with almost anybody that was trying to write and record serious music. Oh yeah, and there was another album custom written for Roger Daltrey in 1973 which many feel was the best thing old Goldilocks ever did without Townshend. All were done with that classic drum/bass/piano/guitar sound, somewhat folkish and garnished heavily with strings, that many, many other pop musicians of the day like Randy Newman, Elton John, Alan Price, and others used. Swear to God, some of these songs are almost Nick Drake-ian. These songs, on these albums, had substance. They were clever and witty, and often ("Giving it All Away", from Just A Boy via "Daltrey", an excellent example) very moving. Just A Boy is his best, in my opinion, almost a tour de force for the diminutive singer and his cohorts– a far cry from the disco piffle he was to turn to after the commercial failure of Another Year. After that, he hooked up with Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr's best producer, Richard Perry, and threw all of his serious ideas out of the window, like so many of his peers- say, Elton, Rod Stewart, and so on. The rest was, as they say, least until he wore out his welcome in the early 80s. Ironically, that most vapid of musical decades had no use for this now most vapid of musicians.

It's a common musical perception failure among many otherwise fine and knowledgable people; they tend to remember only the most immediate memory of a particular artist or a general impression cultivated over time. Anyone that cares to remember Sayer remembers "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", but no one seems to remember what may have come before. Hell, apparently most have never even heard what came before, even the huge hit "Long Tall Glasses". Selective memories are easy. People like easy. Just like Sunday morning.

Sigh. I know, I know, who really cares, Johnny? Who really gives a flying fuck about Leo fricking Sayer anyway? Does it really matter, in the scheme of things and in this post 9/11 world we live in? I suppose not. But it still think that no matter how inconsequential these things may be, if I can add a little clarification and set the record straight then I'm a little more sane. And sanity is a worthy goal, I feel, that I continually strive for.