IT'S A NEW ALBUM and an old story. Sure, "Al Jarreau in London," the four- time Grammy winner's first live recording in several years, is enjoyable for what it is -- a tightly produced, colorfully arranged, rhythmically compelling pop album. But the songs! How could such a talented singer be content with such mediocre material?
Unfortunately, the answer is obvious. Along with Jay Graydon, Jarreau writes a lot of his own tunes. While their efforts on songs like "Raging Waters" and "Black and Blues" are strong enough to hold up in concert, only the rhythmic groove sustains repeated listenings on record. The lyrics are little more than dressing.
The notable exceptions on the album are a lush and refreshingly subdued (for Jarreau, that is) version of Sammy Cahn's "Teach Me Tonight" and the singer's frst hit, "We're in This Love Together."
Jarreau, by the way, can be seen as well as heard on "Al Jarreau in London," thanks to an hour-long video that bears the same name, most of the same performances and some favorites not included on the album, such as the recent hit "Boogie Down" and Jarreau's classic vocal jazzercise, "Take Five."
AL JARREAU -- "Al Jarreau in London" (Warner Bros. 9-25331-1); appearing Friday at the Warner Theater.