The voice of a star, the warmth of a friend
Andy Agree | Omaha, NE | 05/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's always hard to comment authoritatively on a career retrospective when your knowledge of the artist's career is sketchy, and the career has been so long and varied. I had only a radio-listener's knowledge of this blues-soul-jazz-pop vocal maestro when I heard "Tobacco Road" and "Willow Weep for Me" played on our jazz station, but I knew immediately that it was Lou, although I had never heard him sing jazz. I didn't know if he'd recorded these songs last month or (as it turns out) nearly forty years ago, but I went right out and bought the CD. I found it to be a mix of late-60s live recordings of blues and jazz (with some very compelling introductory "raps" with the audience), the late-60s soul hits, and a crop of very satisfying soul-pop from 1989-1990 recorded just before the CD was released in 1991. Inexplicably and unforgivably, the 70s disco phase was completely skipped, even his all-time biggest hit "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine", a masterful song that is sorely missing. The only common thread in the collection is Lou himself, but that's no thread, it's a 12-inch thick rope. His exceptionally warm voice and artistry pull it all together, and he sings to you like a long-lost friend. The highlights of this collection, for me, are: 1) The live "Tobacco Road". When he refers to a neighborhood in Los Angeles "that they used to call Watts", you know it's 1966. 2) The live "Willow Weep for Me", in which his final "weeeeeeep" goes on forever. 3) The soul hits "Love is a Hurtin' Thing" and "Dead-End Street", with its "Almighty Hawk - Mr. Wind". These were my first experiences of Lou as a boy back in the late sixties, and are among the best and most underplayed classic songs of that generation. 4) Lou's reinterpretation of Eric Burdon and the Animals' anguished plea "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". This is the best of Lou you can get, so please welcome this friend into your home."
Gwendolyn M. Slappey | Detroit, Mi United States | 03/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It was what I wanted in Lou Rawls. Most of my favorites by him."