Lou Wilson & Today's People
Super cool-funky-bluesman Lou Wilson was born in Senatobia MS and has become a revered figure on the modern Soul/Blues scene despite achieving only cult figure status. His career dates back to the 50s as part of the Doo Wop group Wade Flemons and the New Comers, which scored four chart hits with “Here I Stand” (#19 R & B #80 Pop), "Easy Lovin" (#10 R & B #70 Pop), "What's Happening" (#94 Pop), "Please Send Me Someone To Love" (#20 R & B) on Vee-Jay Records. As a solo performer Lou Wilson had two minor hits with “This Love Is Getting Deeper” on Kent Records & “Got To Be Me” on Columbia Records but it wasn't until the 90s that he came into his own fronting Lou Wilson & Today's People, which to date has released four CDs: “On The Right Track, “True Blues” “Primetime Blues” and the acclaimed “Blue Groove.”
"On The Right Track" (Crew 1995)
1. One Step From The
**1/2 Contemporary-leaning set of Soul/Pop, Jazz and Blues introduces Wilson's cool vocals and horn-backed sound, often achieved by the use of synths. This is odd considering live horns are featured on some of the tracks like the Jazzy Pop numbers "Bottom Line Is" and "Do Your Will For A Thrill". Lenny Price's saxophone dominates the instrumental versions of the breezy "Laughing All The Way To The Bank" (which also appears as a vocal version) and Bluesy "One Step From The Door", while the vocal versions use synths. Nevertheless each are effective in their own right. A pleasant debut but he'd yet to get his groove on.
"True Blues" (Crew 2000)
1. Play The Blues
*** Wilson begins moving into a Funkier territory with these 11 original songs penned by himself and keyboardist Warren Johnson. Harmonica, synths and spanking guitar licks fill in on the Downhome Blues numbers, "Play The Blues", "We Can Be Friends", "Momma Didn't Raise No Fool". On the Soul tip Wilson croons through the slow swaying "Dipped In Love", "Love Don't Seem Like Love Anymore" & the mighty fine "Bowevil Man" and continues with the fast movin' Soul/Blues breezers from his first LP ("On The Right Track") on "Real Deal" and the cleverly-titled "Miss Leading Mis Guiding" but the standout cut is the lowdown and Funky "Willie Long Green", a Bobby Rush-worthy jam with horn blasts and a big bottom.
"Primetime Blues" (Crew 1996)
1. What Can I Do
(somebody tell me)
***1/2 Wilson continues thrilling those already hip to his career with this accomplished modern Soul/Blues effort. More slippery, rhythmic Blues laid down by Today's People. Resplendent in his yellow and green suits, Wilson leads the band through a set of mostly originals like the terrific 2 part "Rock And A Hard Place", a Gospel-infused midtempo piece with a choir's worth of background singers and Lenny Price's soaring sax. The title cut is his best Blues song to date with Wilson perfecting his uber-hip phrasing. That booty-movin bass is back on the slick "I Need Love", which always seems to have me sliding to the left and shakin' it (no need to picture that!). Once again these are mostly originals with three choice covers added: Little Buster's "What Can I Do", Ben Shaw's "Are You Lonesome" (previously cut by Johnnie Taylor) and the B.B. King classic "Never Mae A Move Too Soon". He even calls out to "Lucille" on the latter.
"Blues Groove" (Crew 2005)
1. Boogie Man
**** All of us, whether we're a critic, performer, businessman or just a music lover, have a personal list of artists who we adamantly insist should be better known instead of the many manufactured, over-hyped pop tarts who saturate our collective consciousness. Lou Wilson is one of those terrific secrets that needs to be told. "Blues Groove" is so Bobby Rush funky I need a shower after listening. I'm not talking machine-produced funk I'm talking loose, hard-hitting, spankin' guitar Blues funky. Although it was released in 2005 and ranked #14 on Blues Critic's Top 30 Soul Blues Albums for that year it came to my attention I hadn't written a review and that would be a shame.
"Boogie Man Song" has a Rush-like groove, horns, harmonica, rolling piano and call-and-response backing vocals. "Who can make you move? The boogie man can!". Suh-weet. He (and his great band Today's People) next slips into slippery, lowdown Blues mode with a Stax feel "On Fallin' Down & Can't Get Up" before the bottom shakes earthquake-style on the monster jam "Ole School Joint". If you can't dance to this track just cut off your feet 'cuz they're of no use to you! Next the title track pulls a slow Blues from the bottom while "Trippin' Out Of You" changes tempo to a breezy Soul fingersnapper before you're back to the funk. There's even a Jazzy flow to "Come On Over Here", spotlighting Wilson pinched, Ray Charles-like vocals. He sings "good things come to those who wait" with backup vocals from Gladys Knight & The Pip's own Edward Patton and William "Red" Guest. "Blues Groove" is CD # 4 for Wilson, one of those cult artists everybody admires but for whom commercial success has been elusive. Good things are happening.
"Money Talk" (Allo 2008)
1. Whip It
Lou Wilson "Runnin' With The Blues" (Allo)
*** While Wilson sounds strikingly like a Bobby Rush disciple his career goes back even further to the 50s as a member of a Doo Wop group Wade Flemons & The New Comers who scored a few Billboard-charting hits (the highest being "Easy Lovin'" #10 R&B/#70 Pop). Wilson also cut a 45 for Kent Records ("This Love Is Getting Deeper") and Columbia Records ("Got To Be Me") but his career really took shape commencing with his first full length, "On The Right Track" for Crew Records. "Runnin' With The Blues" is his first LP in seven years (since 2008's "Money Talk"). It delivers the Bluesy/Funk he's known for.