What percentage of (older) music fans, upon hearing the name Lou Rawls, instantly dial up that unfortunate night at the 1977 Grammy Awards when Rawls hawked up his spleen during the performance of his then comeback hit, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine?" For those unfamiliar with that evening, it went something like this. Lou was riding high with his first hit in years, a crossover smash. As he began his live performance, he choked on his own saliva, and that was that. It was 4 minutes of hacking while millions watched with mouths agape.
I can think of much better Lou Rawls moments.
Just forget "Lady Love." Never happened.
Names like Al Green and Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross are consistently and justifiably tossed about when discussing the great voices of R&B. On the unjust side of the coin, the voices of R. Kelly and Usher, also get the nod more often than Mr. Rawls. I'm thinking Lou's curriculum vitae needs a more prudent perusal.
As iPod shuffle once again hit me like a sack of bricks, I found myself lost in the perfection of "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine." The dynamics, the lyrics, the sweeping strings, the disco beat. Mostly I just surrendered to the big, soulful sound of honey that is Lou Rawls' voice as he mourns his lost love with shoulders back and confidence high. And though he says he doesn't, he does brag about just what* she will miss when she goes.
I was done in. I had to listen to more.
"Natural Man" is about the coolest thing I've ever heard and it was co-written by Sandy Baron. SANDY BARON!
Or, for you youngsters....
....Jerry's father's friend with the astronaut pen.
It's rare when a cover is better than the original. It's even more rare when there are two covers better than the original. I think The Staple Singers own Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth," and I think Lou's version is a close second. (What's with the Laura Ingalls Wilder video?)
Covered by many, including Boz Scaggs and Bonnie Raitt, the Isaac Hayes/David Porter classic, "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)" was first put to wax by Mable John, sister of the late great Little Willie John. All fine entries, but I'm calling Lou's version "the one."
Let's not forget how Lou Rawls began his career, singing the gospel alongside Sam Cooke. This one is a killer.
Then of course, there's "Love Is A Hurtin' Thing." Aaah....1966. What 1939 is to movies, 1966 is to music.
If you're really interested in seeing Lou choke his way through "You'll Never Find..," you can look it up yourself. I'd rather bask in the brilliance of the record, as we know and love it.
One of the best collections----
----is out of print. It's not definitive, as it only serves up the Axelrod years. But those are damn good years. Used copies are available HERE.
----would be definitive, but it's missing "For What It's Worth."
It's HERE, and in print.
Thank you, Sweet Lou.