Lulu [1973]

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This pretty much forgotten effort by Lulu is a beauty. Though there is no single gem like "Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Baby" from her New Routes album or "I Could Never Miss You More Than I Do" from her self-titled Lulu album on Alpha Records (this album on Chelsea/RCA is also self-titled) -- these tracks show the former Mrs. Maurice Gibb at the top of her game. "A Boy Like You," a cover of the Rascals tune with gender change, is over the top. The production by Wes Farrell is just magnificent. Hal Blaine's drums are bigger than usual, and everyone sounds like they are having a great time reinventing this Felix Cavaliere classic. "Groovin'" also gets the treatment, but it is, of course, more subtle. Lulu's voice is an engima in pop music. It is distinctive, and actually deserves to be put in the same category with Ronnie Spector, Dusty Springfield, Tina Turner, Bonnie Bramlett, and other icons. Like Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane and Tommy James, Lulu has never seem to have gotten her do. Her rendition of "Make Believe World" has that majestic sound which oozed out of Engelbert Humperdinck's "The Last Waltz." It's a pity she divorced her Bee Gees husband the same year as this album's release -- a song or two produced by the Brothers Gibb might've given Lulu on Chelsea the airplay it needed and deserved. Dusty Springfield covered Alan O'Day's "Easy Evil" on her Cameo album, released this same year, and Lulu proves she can hold her own with Dusty by performing the same title. Interesting that drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Michael Omartian played on both Springfield's Cameo and this Lulu album in 1973; makes you wonder who brought the tunes to who first? The Cameo album was produced by Steve Barri, and he contributed a song, co-written with Michael Omartian, for Lulu's 1981 Alfa album, so these people sure did travel in the same circles. But as further proof of her skills, and how she's her own woman, just listen to her belting out "Hold on to What You've Got" over this incredible band that Farrell has cooking behind her. The Chelsea Records Lulu album is evidence this woman deserves a nice television special to focus on her career and put things in perspective. Her performance on songs by Willie Nelson, Dan Penn, Austin Roberts, and others here is first class.

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