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Long Tall Glasses With Wine Up to Yar...


If you're over, say, 45, and lived in the states, "Long Tall Glasses" is pretty much in your DNA, even tho you probably don't remember it now. And when you hear it again, you'll probably recalled that you hated it. But, really, back then, whenever it floated over from some nearby radio, you dug it (maybe secretly). That'd be my guess, anyway.

The young uns, all unencumbered w/ such cultural baggage, are free to enjoy this kinda bad-ass song from Leo Sayer:

"I was going down the road feeling hungry and cold," is one of the great opening lines ever, and Leo proceeds to spin out a hobo's tall tale about coming across the ultimate feast ("Yeah, there was ham and there was turkey, there was caviare / and long tall glasses with wine up to y'are") that he could avail upon only after showing a proficiency in musical footwork.

The lyrics and melody, sharp and smart throughout, were Broadway musical-worthy, yet the band played it as loose and casually groovy as any group of scruffy white boys of the era could be.

By those who grew up on AM radio in the 70s, Leo Sayer is primarily remembered (and not always fondly) for inflicting a series of lightweight pop songs, all of considerable over-ripeness, onto the airwaves. Who bought these singles? It was a mystery to me. But those are what he is remembered for today.

Surprising now to think that Sayer once carried a bit of street cred, the hippies would have called it. The Who's Roger Daltry and Three Dog Night covered his jams. He employed some of the Rolling Stone's backing musicians (Bobby Keyes, Nicky Hopkins) in his band, as well as David Bowie's guitarist Earl Slick and a few of the Booker T & The MG's. He even skirted glam, via a Bowie-esque singing pantomime stage persona (which makes no sense but there you go), and by opening for Roxy Music on a European tour in 1973-74, which, alone, is more glam than you'll ever be.

"Long Tall Glasses" was Sayer's first U.S. hit, and it got over on purely on melody, charm, groove and chutzpah. Many people today still call it "I Can Dance" or "I Can't Dance," and their age-muddled minds confuse it with the much more cartoon-ish "You're Mama Don't Dance," much to Leo's detriment.

It was rarely a victory for artistic singularity to be assigned Richard Perry as a producer, though, and Sayer blanded pretty quickly after "Long Tall Glasses" in the pursuit of the almighty top 40 payout. He got what he wanted but lost what he had, as they say.

Leo Sayer,

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