“Don’t You Know That?” by Luther Vandross (1981)

Luther’s first official solo album, Never Too Much, is a great album. Luther was pretty well-formed for a debut artist; but of course he’d had ten years of experience behind some of the greats (Bowie, Midler, Chic) and released two albums as a member of the band Luther. So he wasn’t really a debut artist. That said, he was still figuring out the sound that would become his trademark. So “Don’t You Know That” doesn’t sounds so much like a Luther Vandross song as much as it sounds like Luther Vandross kinda trying to do a George Benson song.

It works, though! Although Luther worked with jazz cats for much of his life (like Marcus Miller), his music only occasionally had a jazz-inflected sound. He certainly didn’t need any help sounding smooth, but those luscious guitar chords offer up the perfect assist.

Interestingly, “Don’t You Know That” was not only Luther’s second solo single, but it was the B-side of his first single. Not quite sure how that worked, but it happened. And it hit the top 10, proving that even at the top of his career, Mr. Vandross had the goods.

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