Sweet Lou

When Lou Rawls passed two years ago, the music blogs were full of wonderful tributes and samples of his remarkable performances.

Ever since, I’ve been looking for just the right Lou Rawls album. I’d come across several, but they just weren’t it. One or two good cuts, especially on the albums from the late ’70s on, but not enough to merit buying.

Until I came across this one last fall, that is.

“Lou Rawls Live!” is solid from start to finish.

Recorded before a room full of music industry folks in Los Angeles in 1966 and produced by David Axelrod, it has everything you’d want — jazz, blues, soul and Rawls’ trademark stream-of-consciousness patter between some of the songs.

The backing band is outstanding, too — James Bond on bass, Earl Palmer on drums, Tommy Strode on piano and Herb Ellis on guitar.

Rawls was 33 when he recorded this album, but really was just getting going as a solo performer. His first Capitol Records album, “Stormy Monday,” was recorded with Les McCann and released four years earlier, in 1962. Before that, Rawls sang with and backed Sam Cooke, a pal since their days together in high school in Chicago.

Let’s give it a spin and head back to a scene that seems long gone.

lourawlslivelp.jpg

“Stormy Monday,” “Southside Blues (monologue),” “Tobacco Road,” “St. James Infirmary,” “The Shadow of Your Smile” and “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” Lou Rawls, from “Lou Rawls Live!” 1966. It runs 22:18.

(The album link is to a remastered CD released on Blue Note Records in 2005.)

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One Comment on “Sweet Lou”

  1. Fusion 45 Says:

    Too scary, Tracker, how similar our tastes are. I found a Lou Live record in a garage sale recently…not sure if this is the same one…it definitely has a different cover…when David Lee Roth said “here’s one for the ladies” he was actually talking about Lou.


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