What You Won’t Do For Love by Bobby Caldwell (Clouds, 1979)

Bobby Caldwell shot out of the gate at the end of 1978 with his first 45, What You Won’t Do For Love, reaching #9 in March of 1979. And although he never again reached the Top 40, Bobby wrote hits for Boz Scaggs, Peter Cetera & Al Jarreau and has continued a prolific 30 year music career, most recently as a jazz singer. And all because of a song that wasn’t even on the album to begin with.

I think we’ve heard this story before, but let’s tell it as if I just made it up. Bobby finished his debut for TK records in 1978, but owner Henry Stone just didn’t hear a hit among the tracks. He sent Bobby and the band into the studio and recorded some smooth Miami grooves. Bobby quickly wrote some lyrics over one of them, recorded it and voila, What You Won’t Do For Love was born. And with it, Bobby’s career. Cause this song, beside being played on various formats such as 70s, soul, Lite FM – you name it, has been recorded and/or sampled at least 100 or so times. Ka-ching! It’s not like anyone really knew it would be this big, especially considering how’s it’s buried on Side 2 of his debut LP. But when it took off they decided to re-release the LP with the song’s name – shades of Sanford-Townsend Band. As Bobby’s popularity waned Stateside, he became Mr. AOR in Japan and even today has a huge following overseas.

The song itself is so smooth. Bobby sings with a soulful easy-going voice over a steady midtempo groove, with a horn intro, I swear Johnny Mandel ripped it off for the Too Close For Comfort theme song. It actually peaked higher on the Soul charts going all the way up to #6. TK Records tried to disguise the fact that Bobby was White. But when people found out, no one cared, cause the song is so good. The best time to listen to it is a sunset on the PCH or driving home at the end of an evening out.

I thought this song was a dream until I heard it in a Phar-Mor drug store in 1990. I searched forever to find the CD and it was a happy day when I got a copy. I put it in a portable CD player, went outside on a cool Spring night at sundown, got into a jacuzzi and played it over and over until I fell asleep in the water. I suggest you get your copy and make your plans accordingly.

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2 Comments

  1. J.A. Bartlett

     /  August 9, 2011

    I remember seeing this on heart-shaped red vinyl around Valentine’s Day in 1979.

    Reply
  2. porky

     /  August 9, 2011

    This is a great site (thanks to JAB for sending me this way).

    I recall youtube comments on this song all along the line of “I didn’t know this guy was white.” Awesome record.

    Reply

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