Stormy Monday

Lou Rawls

Stormy Monday

Though Lou Rawls’s passionate, motor-oil-thick baritone was steeped in the church, the cavalier, almost nonchalant swing that permeates his charming 1962 debut was straight out of the L.A. nightclubs. With the soulful sophistication of Les McCann’s fashionable piano combo behind him (California staples Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Ron Jefferson on drums), it’s not surprising to find a distinct “West Coast cool” vibe at work. Rawls had just turned 26 when he recorded this collection of blues favorites and jazz standards, but his voice already exhibited the sumptuous viscosity and offhand style that would eventually make him famous. He imbues these lowdown songs with an uptown flair, injecting a breezy swagger into the title track, “’Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do,” and “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” and putting a fine polish on late-night ballads like “God Bless the Child,” “Lost and Lookin’,” and “Willow Weep for Me.” “Sweet Lover,” which closed the original LP release, owes more to uptempo R&B (and its gospel roots) than blues or jazz. Rawls’s self-penned “Blues Is a Woman,” a bonus track from the same sessions, has since become one of his most admired compositions.

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