Lou Rawls has one of those unmistakable voices and it is never better than when he wraps it around a ballad. Love Songs features his silky croon on 18 tracks culled from his '70s/early-'80s stint with Philadelphia International and his late-'80s/early-'90s stay at Blue Note along with two ringers from his '60s Capitol years. These are the most alive and exciting tracks on the record. His live take of "The Shadow of Your Smile" is incendiary; by the end of the song you forget it is a semi-cheesy composition and just marvel at the way Rawls wrings every last ounce of soul out of it. "His Love Is a Hurtin' Thing" is a high mark of big-city soul; again, Rawls sings like a man with nothing to lose and more soul in one pinkie than lesser soul men have in their whole bodies. The '70s Philly tracks are fine smooth soul, with some classics like the deathless "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," the very sensual "Early Morning Love," and lesser numbers like "See You When I Get There," "From Now On," and "You Are." Rawls reins in his voice a bit here and flows within the slick, silky surroundings like warm honey. Very nice stuff. The tracks from the '80s and '90s find Rawls still in fine voice, but the musical backing is less than inspired and is quite a letdown from the peaks to be found elsewhere on the disc. Anyone who is looking for a place to start a Lou Rawls collection would be wise to pick up Love Is a Hurtin' Thing: The Silk & Soul of Lou Rawls for a taste of Rawls at his best in the '60s. As far as his '70s recordings go, however, you might be out of luck -- as there isn't a collection drawn from that era in print as of early 2005. Simply criminal. The only remedy is to have a career-spanning box set in stores. Lou Rawls certainly deserves it and so do his fans.
Love Songs [The Right Stuff] Review
by Tim Sendra