Lou Rawls

The Very Best [Blue Note]

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Lou Rawls: The Very Best is a mistitled, misleading release that presents a very minute slice of the great singer's long and varied career. The first two tracks are from Rawls' late-'60s stay with Capitol: the monologue "Southside Blues" and his stunning take on "Tobacco Road" from his legendary live album from 1966, and a funky take on Mable John's Southern soul classic "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)." The rest are from the late '80s and early '90s. That misses a whole bunch of his career; in fact, it focuses on perhaps the least interesting part of it. His voice is still in fine shape, but the music he is surrounded with is overly slick and perfunctory, especially the Billy Vera-penned tunes. Nothing for Rawls to be ashamed of but also nothing that needs to be collected and packaged as Rawls' best. There are many collections of Rawls' work that do a much better job of capturing his greatness. Seek them out instead.

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