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16 Sep 2016

Lou Bond “Lou Bond” 1974 US Soul Folk





Lou Bond “Lou Bond” 1974 US  great Soul Folk

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One of the greatest soul-folk albums ever. 

A lost classic brought out of the shadows. 

Masterpieces around the corner 

In this musical world where everything seems to be re-appraised with alarming regularity, Lou Bond’s sole album from 1974 is a genuine unearthed curio. 
The mysterious Bond came from Memphis. Captured on the cover in full soul troubadour mode walking down suburban streets, he had made a couple of singles in the 60s, and then nothing until these six tracks. The album was released on Tom Nixon’s Stax subsidiary, We Produce, and disappeared almost immediately. 
Influenced undoubtedly by Isaac Hayes (producer Nixon had worked extensively with him), folk music and David Van DePitte’s orchestrations for Marvin Gaye, Bond set about creating his own magnum opus. To do so, he worked with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the South Memphis Horns, as well as some sundry Bar-Kays. It is an album that could only have been made in the 1970s. 
Bond is a caring, socially aware love man. His version of Jimmy Webb’s Lucky Me, although a little tentative on the high notes, sets the tone: swooning melodies and symphonic settings. Everything is given time to develop: he takes Bill Withers’ Let Me Into Your Life and triples the length of the two-minute original. 
The core of the album is protest. Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards looks to solve world conflicts, mentioning Northern Ireland in the same song as North and South Vietnam. Powerful and emotional, Bond ironically sings America the Beautiful, before addressing domestic issues in the US. 
Although OutKast sampled it back in the last century, the album’s undoubted highlight, To the Establishment, has been known only to the cognoscenti. It explores family politics over 12 unhurried minutes of expansive soul. It is one of the best songs you’ve never heard. 
For something so ambitious to have remained so hidden is astonishing. Lou Bond is Sunday morning, it is sensuality. It’s Terry Callier blended with Nick Drake. People have called it a masterpiece, but as you can see by the wealth of its reference points, it is a little too derivative really to be at that level. But it is a delightful, esoteric find, and an album you need in your life…BBC review.. 

Bond’s top-notch songwriting, vocals and an impeccable talent for composition and arrangement, make this a rare album where the music and the message are in perfect harmony. The record’s “To The Establishment,” a nearly 12-minute opus, has been sampled by the likes of Outkast and Mary J. Blige. 

Misplaced on the We Produce imprint of the legendary Stax label, soulful troubadour Lou Bond never received the recognition befitting his talent and the strength of his recordings. A voice of conscious strumming an acoustic guitar with a magnetic voca 
al delivery, Bond should have taken his rightful place among his more lauded peers during the 1960s and 70s. Light in the Attic Records is proud to reissue his eponymous album from 1974, a powerhouse confluence of Bond’s fiery lyricism and Memphis orchestral soul, that even in its nearly four decades of anonymity, managed to influence some of contemporary music’s biggest stars – Outkast and Mary J. Blige each sampled his nearly 12-minute gem, “To The Establishment.” A gifted artist whose luster is finally being restored…. 

Lou Bond (real name: Ronald Edward Lewis). See his interview for more details on the Light In The Attic CD reissue. He died on february 1,2013. 

His only We-Produce/Stax LP is really fascinating and full of atmosphere with his backings a la Isaac Hayes. A rare and underrated late Stax production. 

“Lou Bond is not to be categorized he is like no other artist in the business. Past or present.” Thus reads the cover blurb on Lou Bond’s eponymous 1974 LP for the Stax imprint We Produce. Truer words have seldom, if ever, appeared on an album cover. Bond, whose politically conscious, freestyle lyrics brand him a utopian jazzman, was backed on his one and only recording by both “the horns of South Memphis” (whoever they were) and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s string section (ditto). It is alternately spare and overproduced, and is far too eclectic to ever attract the ears of the masses. It’s a collection of headphones-only musicianship and new age field hollers. And though it is easy to see why this Stax artist fell between the cracks of music history, for those who have acquired the taste, Lou Bond is a real treat. 

How can anyone resist Bond’s raspy answer to Jackie Wilson’s falsetto, married to Grand Master Flash-style flows like “They’re fussin’ ‘bout the bussing,” with a straight face? Bond the equitable philosopher warns the snobs of the world to get their noses out of the air, because the air is polluted. His songs are unique, to say the least. They are, perhaps, sometimes unintentionally humorous, but more often than not they are profoundly sweet and addictive. Lou Bond will make a rare appearance at the opening reception for David Julian Leonard’s photo exhibition on Friday, December 1st, at photogallery memphis, 383 South Main Street.“ 

Chris Davis 
The Memphis Flyer #615 12/1/2000 …. 

Bond uses his playful high register to ornament the melody, and finishes the tune with several minutes of gospel-esque improvisations full of sighs, cries, stuttered notes, growls, and wails. He also applies his falsetto to Carly Simon’s cynical ode “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” and wrings every once of painful ambivalence out of the lyric. The glacial groove is full of subtle percussive touches. “Come on Snob” could just as easily be called “Come on Whitey.” It sports another kaleidoscopic, ever-shifting lyric that decries discrimination and materialism. The arrangement features flute, strings, and the bass strings of Bond’s acoustic. His pleading refrain of “Please, please, please, please, please” references James Brown without overt imitation, and his moaned improvisations are superb. The set closes with a tune that wasn’t on the original album, a cover of Al Green’s “I’m Still in Love with You” played by Bond as a guitar and vocal showcase. Bond scats all over the lyric to open the tune, does a brief verse, then slips into the traditional “Sometimes I Feel Like aMotherless Child,” sustaining a stunning falsetto note for almost a minute. …… 

Tracks 
A1 Lucky Me 3:56 
A2 Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards 4:37 
A3 To the Establishment 11:13 
B1 Let Me in Your Life 6:18 
B2 That’s the Way I’ve Heard It Should Be 6:40 
B3 Come on Snob 7:51 

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