One Track Mind: Al Jarreau, "Rainbow In Your Eyes" (1977)

Share this:

Al Jarreau has found a good measure of success from applying his unique weave of octave shifting singing and jazz scatting to a wide array of songs ranging from jazz standards to r&b to straight pop. And like Linda Ronstadt and Robert Palmer, he’s had a knack for finding someone else’s nugget that few have heard of and making it sound like his own.

His rendition of “Spain” is what got me curious about Chick Corea’s original some 25 years ago and opened my ears to the wonderful aural experience that was Return To Forever’s first two albums.

Before Jarreau’s eighties heyday back when he was still trying to build an audience, Al took notice of Leon Russell‘s mid tempo love ode “Rainbow In Your Eyes” from the largely ignored and out of print Wedding Album featuring his new bride Mary Russell.

In Leon’s hands, it was a duet between the newlyweds kicked off by an interlude performed an a capella choir. The song itself displayed LR’s same gift of soulful melody that he displayed on “Lady Blue”, of which this song is reminiscent. But Jarreau turned up the funk dial a bit and made it a platform for his amazing vocal abilities. He first covered it in the studio a mere year after the Russells’ on his 1976 release Glow (purchase), and then it appeared again the following year on his double-lp live extravaganza Look To The Rainbow, a damned good record throughout.

(Note: I’m not so critical of the more commercial route Jarreau has taken since that time as others have been, but if you are and enjoyed George Benson’s Weekend In L.A. (purchase) from a year later and also produced by Tommy LiPuma, you’ll love this record).

It’s this version’s song we’re highlighting because it proves Al’s talents as a jazz (jazzy?) singer is no studio trickery and that’s a helluva tight band backing him up. My favorite part is when he smoothly segues from his natural range to briefly mimic a female vocal part at the beginning of the second verse and instantly switches back to his “normal” voice all in the same breath…pretty slick stuff if you ask me. You have to hear it to believe it, so why don’t ya’?

“One Track Mind” is a weekly drool over a single song selected at random and a short thesis on why you should be drooling over it, too.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
Share this:
Close