Friday, 13 January 2012


Here's Lou... singin' it out just the way it ought to be. Lou - easy and natural. Sidemen - loose and groovy. Songs - blue and full of the feeling that's there because it's Lou. A great Lou... emerged, hailed, recognized as one of the greatest singers of our time! A Lou with his two latest gigantic hit albums that will never die, and with fame he re-earns here by carryin' on with songs that rival anything he's done yet... anywhere, anytime!

There's a big, full-voiced "On Broadway" that certainly stirs the soul, and a "Somethin's Stirrin' in My Soul" that does the same. A "Yesterday" that makes it all too true, and a "You're Gonna Hear From Me" that you'd better believe!

There's plenty more... all nice and free and just right. In fact, the session was pretty much impromptu. No arrangements at all. Only Lou, feelin' fine, and a small group of real good players all feelin' the same way. And what more could you want? Lou Rawls is carryin' on, and man, there just isn't anymore.

[from the original back sleeve notes of "Carryin' On!"]

Lou Rawls was an American soul jazz and rhythm and blues singer with extraordinary artistic longevity and great generosity. His soulful singing career spanned over thirty years, and his philanthropy included helping to raise over 150 million dollars for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). He released more than 75 albums, selling about 40 million records worldwide, appeared as an actor in films and on television, and voiced-over many cartoons. He had been called "The Funkiest Man Alive" and his friend Frank Sinatra once said that he had "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game".

Born Louis Allen Rawls on December 1, 1936 in Chicago, son of a Baptist minister and a homekeeper, Lou Rawls was raised on the South Side by his grandmother and was introduced to gospel at age seven in the choir of the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church.

As a teenager he developed an interest in the jazz-influenced songs of Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams, whose resonant baritone voices were similar to his own voice. He soon joined doo-wop quartets and sang with the West Singers and the Kings of Harmony, he first recorded in June 1950 with The Holy Wonders. After his grandmother died, he moved to Los Angeles in 1953 and joined the Chosen Gospel Singers.

In the mid-1950s Rawls toured with another gospel group, The Pilgrim Travelers, who recorded for Specialty Records. After graduating from Chicago Dunbar Vocational Career Academy he joined the U.S. Army in 1955 as a paratrooper for about three years. When he returned from military service, he started touring again with the group. One rainy night in November 1958 their car collided with a semi-trailer truck: Eddie Cunningham was killed, Cliff White broke his collarbone and Sam Cooke was hardly injured. Rawls laid in a coma for five days before waking and eventually recovering from the severe concussion, it took him about one year to fully recup.

The accident contributed to the dissolution of The Pilgrim Travelers and Rawls embarked on a solo career in 1959. The group were based in Los Angeles, so Rawls decided to stay there after the breakup. A producer from Capitol Records noticed him performing at Pandora's Box coffee shop and the label signed him in 1961. During the same year Rawls recorded anonymously as an uncredited background singer on Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me", which is considered a classic nowadays.

It took Rawls a while to establish himself as a solo artist, his first recordings were fairly successful. He debuted in 1962 with "Stormy Monday", an album that featured a number of blues and jazz standards chosen by Rawls and backed by the Les McCann Trio. His 1963 album "Black and Blue", made the pop chart and other four albums followed in just three years ("Tobacco Road", "For You My Love", "Lou Rawls and Strings" and "Nobody But Lou"), but it wasn't until 1966 that he crossed over to major market success with his album "Lou Rawls Live!".

"Lou Rawls Live!" was released on April 4, 1966; it went to #1 in the Billboard R&B Albums Charts and to #4 in the Billboard Pop Albums Charts. The following review was written by Kenneth Gouldthorpe, it is taken from the May 20, 1966 issue of Life magazine. It is worth including it here because it perfectly summarize Rawls' qualities and the hype that "Lou Rawls Live!" created:

Lou Rawls is a bantam with a powerful voice, a three-octave range, phrasing which has been compared with Sinatra's and vocal control so precise that he can reach a falsetto on pitch, then slide abruptly back down to a low note and hit it resonantly on the loose. He has been recording for Capitol for five years, and gained a good deal of admiration and respect. Now, with his new album, Lou Rawls LlVE!, which sold out in its first week, he is also likely to gain a wide popular following and considerable anticipation of his next.

In this one, LIVE! is the operalive word. Rawls recorded it before a studio audience, which seems to have sparked a performance he never quite achieved on a cold studio mike. He generates vibrations in his audience that bounce right back off him and the result is an exciting sense of presence, of something going on, rather than the distraction that comes with so many noisy live audiences.

At base, Rawls is a rhythm-and-blues singer whose strong gospel overtones hark back to boyhood training in a Chicago church choir and to years on the road with a spiritual vocal group. His powerful delivery suggests a basso-profundo physique but in fact he is a slightly built man who served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and must have put weights in his boots every time he made a jump. There is a chasm between rhythm-and-blues and pop singing which few artists seem able to bridge - Ray Charles has done so, as have Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. If you have any doubts about Rawls's right to membership in that elite club, just listen to what he does with an old blues like St. James Infirmary: same melody, same words, but somehow he lifts it out of its hallowed Dixieland setting and dresses it up into a sound that is totally contemporary and swinging.

ln The Shadow of Your Smile, he shows what he can do with a straight ballad. A craftsman who knows when to take liberties with a lyric and when to let it be, he leaves the structure whole but fills the melody with nuances that seem to put the lyrics into italics. The driving beat is no longer there, but Lou Rawls is.

No less of an asset is Rawls's innate sense of humor which he manages to inject into his music without seeming ludicrous - and how rare a knack among singers that is! Listen as he rollicks through In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down. He sings three choruses straight in a rhythm-and-blues groove, then swings above the sure-fingered hacking of Jimmy Bond's bass into a minor masterpiece of improvisation. He tells how it feels to come home to an empty apartment and a TV Dinner instead of a home-cooked meal of 'soul food'. Positively drooling at the thought, he spins out a wistful soliloquy about neckbones and hamhocks, cornbread and collard greens. When he gets around to the candied yams, the words pop out in a shout of pure delight, and you can almost taste them.

Rawls has a way of taking over a song that's already a hit and making it his own, as he did with The Girl From Ipanema. Every top singer in the country recorded it after Getz and Gilberto scored with it two years ago. But for me at least, latecomer Rawls is the one who is singing it for the first time.

Lou Rawls performing live, 1966

Although "Live!" became the first of his several gold albums, Rawls would not have a star-making hit until he made a proper soul album. The aptly entitled "Soulin'" was released on August 15, 1966, just four months after the success of "Live!". It contained Lou's first R&B #1 single, "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing", which also went up to #13 on the Pop Charts.; with this song he earned his first Grammy Award nomination. Finally, after a few years of struggling, Rawls was reaching white audiences with his smooth baritone.

Produced by David Axelrod, "Carryin' On!" was released during the very last week of 1966, exactly on December 27. Rawls got two mild hits from this album with "Trouble Down Here Below" and "You Can Bring Me All Your Heartaches"; it is also worth mentioning his fine renditions of "On Broadway" and The Beatles' "Yesterday". The production and arrangements were perfectly tailored to his voice, the songs were good, and Rawls sounded confident, assertive, and soulful.

"Carryin' On!" went to #2 in the Billboard R&B Albums Charts, to #3 in the Jazz Albums Charts and to #20 in the Pop Albums Charts. It contains the following tracks:

01. Mean Black Snake (2:26)
02. Walking Proud (2:22)
03. The Devil In Your Eyes (3:17)
04. Find Out What's Happening (2:30)
05. You Can Bring Me All Your Heartaches (2:35)
06. A Woman Who's a Woman (2:22)
07. The Life That I Lead (3:03)
08. Yesterday (2:54)
09. Trouble Down Here Below (2:17)
10. You're Gonna Hear From Me (2:45)
11. Something Stirring In My Soul (3:06)
12. On Broadway (2:24)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in December 2011 / January 2012 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files, both formats include completely restored PDF artwork. Please have a look at the comments for the download links.

The album opens with "Mean Black Snake" a blues credited to Rawls himself and James Woodie Alexander, once manager of The Pilgrim Travelers and Rawls' personal advisor and confidant. In Europe this track was released as Side B of a 7" single that offered "Walking Proud" as main number. "The Devil In Your Eyes" was written by Buddy Scott (erroneously credited as Buddy South on the center label) and Jimmy Radcliffe, whose talent is better described here.

"Find Out What's Happening" by Jerry Crutchfield is a fast rock'n'roll number stuffed with guitar licks and solos; it preludes to the piano and horns of "You Can Bring Me All Your Heartaches". This tracks was released as a single in the U.S., backed with "A Woman Who's a Woman"; both tracks were written by Ben Raleigh and H.B. Barnum.

Here's the lyrics of "You Can Bring Me All Your Heartaches":

When the world becomes too much for you
When the road ahead is hard to see
When you feel you don't know what to do
Baby, you can turn to me

I say now
You can bring me all your heartaches
Cry on my shoulder any day
You can bring me all your heartaches
I'll kiss your worries away
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I'll kiss your worries away

When it seems the day will never end
When things are wrong as they can be
When you wonder if you've got a friend
Baby, just remember me

I say now
You can bring me all your heartaches
Cry on my shoulder any day
You can bring me all your heartaches
I'll kiss your worries away
I'll kiss your worries away
I'm gonna kiss your worries away

I will prove to you how much I care
You'll never, never have to stand alone
In your hour of need you'll find me there
You can make my arms your home

You can bring me all your heartaches
You can bring me every one of your heartaches
You can bring me all your heartaches

"You Can Bring Me All Your Heartaches" sheet music cover

On "The Life That I Lead" Rawls gives lessons of coolness; this track, written by Ron Moody, was released as the flip side of "Trouble Down Here Below" in early 1967. Crooning continues as Rawls gives his own rendition of The Beatles' Yesterday, which - according to the Guinness World Records - is the most recorded song in the world. With its fast tempo and solid rhythm section "Trouble Down Here Below" is another highlight of the album; when released as a single it reached # 92 on The Billboard Hot 100.

Coming straight from the soundtrack of "Inside Daisy Clover", "You're Gonna Hear From Me" has become an evergreen; written by André Previn along with his wife Dory Previn it has been covered by many regarded musicians and singers like Bill Evans, Stanley Turrentine, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, etc. "Something Stirring In My Soul" is another jazzy blues classic by the Scott-Radcliffe couple. The album closes with "On Broadway" which is better remembered in the versions that The Drifters and George Benson brought to success, respectively in 1963 and 1978.

Here's the lyrics of "Trouble Down Here Below":

Well, I know there's peace on the mountain
And that's where I want to go

But I just can't rest on the mountain top
Knowin' the trouble down here below
Whoa, trouble down here below

Well, I know how to make it to the top of the mountain
'Cause I've been there a time or so

But I cannot rest on the mountaintop
Knowin' the trouble down here below
Yeah, yeah, trouble down here below

I got a mother, father, sister, brothers
Cryin' down here in a world of trouble

Well, there ain't no trouble on the mountain
But there's trouble down here below
Yeah, yeah, trouble down here below

Now people drinkin' and gamblin', rovin' and ramblin'
Fightin' and shootin', they're a-hatin' and disputin'

No, there ain't no trouble on the mountain
But there's trouble down here below
Hey, yeah, trouble down here below

There's trouble down here, trouble down here
My brothers and sisters are cryin' in a world of trouble

I can't have no peace on the mountaintop
'Cause I'm a-worried and I'm troubled

No, there ain't no trouble on the mountain
But there's trouble down here below
Whoa, trouble down here below

'Cause there's trouble
Down here below

The following texts are excerpted from the November 1966 issue of Ebony magazine - published just a few weeks before "Carryin' On!" was released - which contained at least six pages of material dedicated to Rawls:

"Under the el", singer Lou Rawls has a smile for his hometown, Chicago. Now one of the hottest male vocalists in entertainment, Lou grew up on Chicago's South Side and the el tracks haven't lost any of the old fascination for him.

Lou Rawls in Chicago, 1966

Popular young vocalist reaches top after years of toil and struggle

Several years ago, two young men with a lot in common met in Los Angeles, California. Close friends from Chicago, both were sons of ministers, and both had been raised on gospel music. But there was one big difference. Whereas the late Sam Cooke had made it to the top on the strenght of a hit rock'n'roll record, his companion, Lou Rawls, was still an obscure lead singer with a gospel group called the Pilgrim Travelers.

But years pass, and times change. Sam Cooke, at the pinnacle of his career, was shot to death in a motel tragedy. Fate has been kinder to Lou Rawls. Today he is one of the most important male vocalist in the U.S. "Two of my brothers (Nat Cole and Sam Cooke) had to leave us before I got my break," Lou says. "I'm sorry it had to be that way. But I knew my time would come and I'm happy about it." In those words Lou Rawls expresses the mixed feelings with which he regards his phenomenal rise to national prominence.

Several months ago, prior to the release of his Lou Rawls - Live! album, Rawls, 29, was virtually unknown in much of the country. Now he is on the tongues of music devotees all across the land. He was the show stopper at the Randalla Island Jazz Festival in New York, and the mayor of Cincinnati made personal arrangements during the airline strike for him to fly to his city on "Friendship Day" to avert expected outbreaks of violence. Every day during a week-long engagement at the Village Gate in New York he broke attendance records which he had previously set. And in Chicago, McCormick Place's Arie Crown Theater seating 5.000 people was sold out two weeks in advance because Lou Rawls was coming to town.

It took him a long time to get off the ground, "but," he tells you, "I wanted it that way. When I signed with Capitol Records back in 1961 I told them not to rush me because l didn't want to be an over-night sensation and an afternoon flop. That happens you know." He expects his earnings to exceed $200.000 this year. In 1965 he earned less than $50.000. ln addition, he has been promised two good movie roles and he recently signed an artist management pact with Joe Glaser's Associated Booking Corporation (ABC) which handles stars Louis Armstrong and Barbra Streisand.

Although Lou is just now coming into the national spotlight, he previously had extensive exposure via television. Steve Allen was one of his early boosters, and in one year used him on 12 of his nightly TV broadcasts. Lou has also appeared on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Jack Barry Show in Hollywood. Back in 1959 he had speaking parts in two TV shows, Bourbon Street Beat and 77 Sunset Strip.

"You know," Lou says, "when I left Chicago you couldn't have given me away for love or money. That's how bad it was. I was down. I mean way down." But the story today is different. Lou Rawls is up - way up.

Lou Rawls with his wife and son, 1966

Seven years ago Rawls was singing for $10 per night

Seven years ago, Lou Rawls was singing in a beatnik coffee house on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. He earned about $10 a night. He and his wife, Lana, whom he met in Texas, lived in a hotel room in Los Angeles. "Going out to dinner in those days meant splitting a hot dog," he recalls. Usually, when he got off, he would be seen singing at after-hour sets with musicians like Harold Land, Leroy Vinnegar, Les McCann and Teddy Edwards. One night Voyle Gilmore, a vice-president of Capitol Records, happened to be in one of the clubs and he immediately went for Lou’s interpretations of blues and jazz. A few days later he signed him.

Throughout his career and before, when he was singing in the youth choir of Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church in Chicago at the age of seven, he has "spoke his mind" while performing. Other blues singers talk and sing about unrequited love and other sentimental subjects. So does Lou.

But he also talks about "the streets". Billie Holiday lived among the pimps, prostitutes, junkies, bookmakers and pushers. But she wouldn't talk or sing about them. Lou does."I was raised on 35th and South Park when it was tough," Lou says. "I went to Forrestville Elementary and Dunbar High. In between I learned about life. Everything happened in my neighborhood. I learned about people. I just sing about them, that's all."

Offstage, Lou is a quiet, unobtrusive sort. Yet, he is aggressive and confident in his own way. He is sure of himself and he tells why: "Very often I'm asked if I'm afraid someone will come along and outdo me. I always answer 'no,' because there is always room for talent. There is always room for one more. When I looked up and saw so many cats making it without talent, I knew I would, even though in my neighborhood I was the kid most likely not to succeed."

"Carryin' On" original inner sleeve shows Capitol goodies of 1966...

He never dances while on stage, all Lou does is sing his songs

When Lou goes on stage for a performance he doesn't capture the crowd by jumping and dancing all over the place like James Brown and Jackie Wilson. He simply walks out, picks up the mike and proceeds to sing. But then that's all he has to do because he is a singer, and the other two are showmen. There is a difference. Says Lou: "I don't have to do that. All I have to do is just be myself and sing my songs the only way I know how. I guess they like the way I sound and the lyrics. How I caught on I don't know.

"Actually, in the Lou Rawls - Live album there are only three new pieces. All the others I had recorded before. The monologue about the guy who stands on 47th and South Park wearing the latest style and driving a white-on-white-in-white Cadillac car was one of the new things. To get the 'live' effect we set up the studio like a nightclub and invited people in. After they got stoned we started the session. The monologue I created right there on the spot. I never write any of them down. I just do it. Now guys walk up to me and say 'man you made 47th and South Park so popular again, cats have to have reservations there just to park their hogs (Cadillacs).' "

Although he isn't always recognized when he walks down the street, it doesn't bother him. "Personally," he says, "I don't want that kind of acclaim. It ain't real. I don't go for that." That's Lou Rawls. He doesn't dig anything he thinks is phony. All he wants to do is sing.

...and more goodies on the back!

In 1967 Rawls won his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, for the single "Dead End Street", the first half of which contained a monologue (which helped to pave the way for a singing style that foreshadowed rap or hip-hop). During the same year Rawls also performed at the first evening of the Monterey International Pop Music Festival.

During the late 1960s, Rawls appeared regularly on TV variety shows and became a show-room figure in the nightclubs of Las Vegas. In 1970 he recorded a single entitled "Your Good Thing Is About To Come To an End," a title that contradicted the success he experienced in the Seventies. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award.

He switched to MGM Records in 1971, "A Natural Man" was the first album he recorded with them. The homonymous single earned Rawls a second Grammy Award in 1972. He released two more albums with MGM but the hits stopped cold...

It took a chance meeting with Weldon McDougal of Philadelphia International to radically alter Lou Rawls's stalled recording career, but this is a story that will be extensively covered at a later date in a different post.

In 1989 Rawls' hometown of Chicago named a street after him: South Wentworth Avenue was renamed Lou Rawls Drive. He died on 6 January, 2006 in Los Angeles, California.

"Unless you've heard the song before - even if you know a singer well, it might take a short while to realise just who it is singing, when you hear them on the radio. But with Lou Rawls that doesn't happen – you know it's him at once. So distinctive is his voice and style, there's no mistaking Lou – he was one of a kind."

[Peter Burns, full feature is available here]

If you have any other useful information about Lou Rawls and "Carryin' On!" - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this posting. A roommate of mine in university had the album and certain songs have stuck with me for years. Why isn't a CD widely available? Whatever the reason, you've created a great archive. Cheers!

  2. Hi, thanks for the comment. This is one of the few Lou Rawls albums that still hasn't received a proper CD release, hopefully they won't make us wait too long!

  3. Absolutely stunning piece you've put together here! It's true that this album deserves a CD issue but tracks from it are available on compiled Rawls material releases like: "The Best Of Lou Rawls - The Capitol Jazz & Blues Session". Ok, well at least it contains "Something Stirring In My Soul".

  4. Thx a lot for your job! im a big french fan of mister Rawls, im so glad!

    OCKAPITO 2013

  6. You rock! Great music selections, and loads of background information. Thanks a lot.

  7. Thank you for Lou! You're doing great job with this blog. Take care, br, JD

  8. What a goldmine !
    It's a real good job and I really thank you for it.
    Fredadelic (NICE - France)

  9. Long time I'm searching this Album. Many, many thanks for FLAC!

  10. Awsome! Lou Rawls and Sam Cooke is my favorite!

    but file was deleted... can you reupload this album?




    If you download any of these files please consider leaving a comment, your feedback is important!

    Please let me know about any broken link and deleted or unavailable files: I'll do my best to quickly reupload them.

    1. Brilliant! Thanks very much!

  12. I was able to download it!
    thanks a lot for reupload!!! great collections!

  13. Obrigado por este clássico deste super soulman
    Um abraço aqui do Brasil

  14. Big thanks for all the unique finds.


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