Almost Hits: Bobby Caldwell, “Coming Down From Love” (1980)

Here’s the answer to that question, “what to do for an encore after such a note-perfect quiet storm groove tune as ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’?”

Coming down from that oft-sampled top ten hit from 1978, “Coming Down From Love” only reached 42 in 1980, quickly regulating the underrated blue-eyed jazz-soul crooner to a cult status, a status that he’s thrived within to this day. And no, I’m not going to put “Coming Down” on the same level as “What You Won’t Do” but it shoulda been a stronger contender.

A song about dealing with the aftermath of a love affair, it actually sports tighter lyrics than the quickly-penned signature song and displays Caldwell’s vocal range a little better, especially that sweet falsetto he uncorks during the bridge.

The bridge is my favorite part for anothe reason: the horn arrangement. Instead of going for the punchy, RnB charts heard on most soul songs, this one has that clarinet-drenched lushness that’s a hallmark of big band dance ensembles of the 30s and 40s. Mated to a loping, funky strut, it’s tasteful marriage of musical eras a couple of generations apart. During the instrumental break it mingles with a bluesy, economical electric guitar solo and that odd juxtaposition works, too.

Make no mistake, though, Caldwell’s voice is what makes this song go. He might have lost much of his hitmaking mojo by the time of “Coming Down From Love” but he maintained the quality. At one point of this forgotten single, Caldwell demands “tell me where I went wrong.”

He did nothing wrong.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is a CPA and mid-level data analyst 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. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.