Lou Rawls

Finest Collection

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Lou Rawls' Finest Collection gathers up songs recorded (mostly) between 1962 and 1970 for Capitol. There are also two songs from Rawls' reunion with Blue Note in the 1990s jarringly inserted into the otherwise stellar track listing. The silky-voiced and soulful crooner was a master interpreter of songs from almost any genre, always giving them an intimate feel and delivering them with his trademark gusto. On this collection, he tackles standards like "Georgia on My Mind," "One for My Baby (One More for the Road)," and "Summertime," absolutely kills some soul-drenched ballads like "Your Good Thing Is About to End" and "Fa Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song)," and grooves his way through some pop hits like a jazz-influenced "On Broadway" and a slightly cheesy take on "It Was a Very Good Year." The disc shows off his versatility as he bops through a funky lounge version of Muddy Waters' "I Just Wanna Make Love to You," rocks a soulful version of Traffic's "Feeling Alright" (one of the few tracks here that shows the mark of Rawls' main producer, David Axelrod), swings a mellow "The Girl From Ipamema," and slyly sneaks through a mellow version of "You Made Me So Very Happy." Any disc that bills itself as Rawls' Finest Collection really should include more than one track from his landmark 1962 record Stormy Monday, probably his stunning take on "Tobacco Road." Maybe EMI should retitle it Fine Collection because it certainly is that, perhaps not as essential as a thoughtfully collected best-of disc but still a lot of fun for someone who digs Rawls and wants to hear some more obscure tracks.

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