Sweet soul man
Lou Rawls grew up on Chicago‘s tough south side. but did so in fine musical company -— his school buddies included Sam Cooke and The Staples Singers. and he sang with Cooke in one of his earliest bands. As Rawls' career gradually developed. though. he achieved the unusual distinction of succeeding in several different and. in some views. contradictory market- places.
ln the (dis. Rawls was best known as a punchy soul singer. and went on to score as a crossover pop artist as well; in the 70s. he scored his biggest hit with Gamble & Huff‘s smooth Philadelphia sound; and in the 80s. he turned again to a strand which had actually run throughout his whole career — jazz.
His record deal with Blue Note has produced four albums to date. from the 1989 debut A! Last through to last year‘s blues- and R&B-orientated Portrait Of The Blues. These haven't exactly been conventional jazz sets. though: At Last featured a couple of songs by new country star Lyle Lovett. and all ofthern have mixed up his wide-ranging inﬂuences. united by his distinctive silken. richly-burnished vocal treatment.
‘Yeah — they’ve called me blues, R&B. folk, pop. soul. and country. and I‘ll be all ofthose. but what I say is don’t try to pigeonhole me into any particular kind of music. I‘m in the category of Lou Rawls. and that‘s it!‘
Rawls makes a rare Scottish appearance as part of the Silk Cut City Jazz series. and has lost none of his early enthusiasm for being on stage.
‘I love performing. I love it. man. I guess you can say that is when I feel in control, for that time on stage. when you give the people something that makes them feel good. That‘s what it‘s '. all about. I’m having a good time doing what I’m doing. and if the people enjoy it, then I know I‘m on the right track.‘
2 (Joe Alexander)
Lou Rawls plays The Playhouse. Edinburgh on Sat 5. L
28 The List 25 February—10 March 1994
narra- Bluey moves
Philip Dorward chats to Jean Paul Maunick, aka Bluey, leader of Incognito, Britain’s top name in soul andjazz.
Captain‘s Log. Stardate the early l980s: Light OfThe World and
j Incognito skipper Jean Paul Maunick. aka Bluey. decides sod this pop thing
and goes away to work in the studio with the likes of Sister Sledge. Carroll Thompson and Maxi Priest.
Captain‘s Log. Stardate 1990: The
birth of a new generation of hippy chicks. Talkin Loud Records are anew
and Incognito are reﬂoated. Bountiful treasure followed in the shape of two Top Ten hits. the covers ‘Always There' and ‘Don't You Worry ’Bout A Thing’.
And today they freefloat as Britain’s most successful soul-jazz export. But. errn. don‘t tell him that.
‘To point the finger at us being funk orjazz is wrong.‘ argues Bluey. ‘I just want to be able to embrace jazz music when I want to and court soul music when it feels right. Obviously. I listen to more jazz and soul than 1 would rock ‘n‘ roll. but then again I can listen to Joni Mitchell and she can set me off in a completely different writing direction. The reasons why our records are so individual is that they reﬂect what we are feeling at the tirne.‘
The current album. Positivity is a ‘Captain‘s Log‘ ofthe last year-and-a-
, half in the lives ofthe band; an array of shaggy dog—fish stories of broken ; relationships (‘Deep Water'),
mysterious experiences (‘Pieces Of A
, [)ream‘) and dirty rotten scoundrels 3 (‘Still A Friend Of Mine‘). Not one to
shirk his responsibilities as an elder
statesman. he holds true to his
convictions regarding the state of the ' industry and his record label. It‘s fair to say that Gilles Peterson’s Talkin Loud
label has not been without its problems. More critical than commercial success has come the label‘s way. and. while not breaking any sales records in this country, it has gained intemational respect and made a major contribution to British music.
‘You’d be amazed how big the label is abroad.’ Bluey conﬁrms. ‘Then when you think that Incognito are the label’s biggest selling act and that we‘re probably the one that‘s least trendy. This band is Britain’s biggest selling
export in this mixture ofjazz and soul. and that in part is due to the label. The label is the best thing that could have happened to me. because it allows for our musical freedom. Bands like Galliano. Young Disciples and us are allowed a lot more creativity than, say. if we were on a German or American label where you have to deal with a marketing strategy. We're more active in this country. people try and experiment with music. The label may not be for the masses. but it is for creativejuices. keeping music alive and well in the future. When we've done with sampling all the old albums what are we going to sample. the samples of
It seems that dance music has a perverse relationship with repetition, fads and cycles. Bluey's main grievance is that the industry. in particular the best—selling dance industry, does not look far enough ahead.
“The shame of90s music. I find, is that the an of making an album has gone out of the window. Y‘know. you get excited about two or three tracks but. like. the rest — “Here’s a version of this last tune with the same beat and how we‘ve discovered this new loop and we‘re going to give it to you in every song." I like mainly acts that I have got the knack of songwriting. but * they seem to be a dying breed.‘
Sticking to his deep roots. Bluey's next diary entry is tracks for the next Incognito album and a collaboration with Maxi Priest for his new long player. What goes around comes around and. in the next generation. Mr Blue will still be at the helm of some ship in some way or other. It‘s illogical Captain. but I like it.
Incognito play The Assembly Rooms. Edinburgh on Tue 1.
i Slainte! is the title of the three-week-
Iong Celtic Arts Festival held in Cumbernauld Theatre. It has developed over the years from a
< regular early-in-the-year concert by V The Battlefield Band to a weekend of
g folk music, to this year’s impressive g line-up of top folk and roots bands,
3 drama, ceilidhs, hooleys, and a craft
fair. I While not in the same league as Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s successful Celtic Connections series - no one has that sort of money! — and . spread over a longer time-span than Glasgow Folk Festival’s week or f Edinburgh Folk Festival’s ten days, the Cumbernauld event reflects the continued growth of mainstream interest in the folk arts. Most of the facets of the current musical scene are on show, with Glasgow’s Humpff Family making sure
' Whistlebinkies that the first concert is not for the faint-hearted, old Corries fans or ears fearful of amplified music. Bifling rockabilly, Celtic, caiun and country- rock styles, they reconstitute a steamy, unsophisticated dance music for people having too good a time to
i think of going home.
Gaberlunzie will take care of those 5 that The Humpff Family alienates. Bobin Watson and Gordon Menzies blend vocal harmony and instrumental accompaniment, entertaining with the ; classic Scots repertoire that the ; aforesaid old Corries fan would easily recognise. i
The Whistlebinkies, although ; performing songs in Gaelic and Scots, Q tend to feature the instrumental music of Scotland, artfully arranged to show ; off the triad of national instruments, : the harp, pipes and fiddle. Set around i with flute, drum, concertina and ,5 whistle, the ’Binkies should never be mistaken as genteel. A song/story from bodhran-toting ‘Big Mick’ Broderick would soon put paid to that misconception.
Look out later in the month for Dougie Maclean, The Battlefield Band, The Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra, Iron Horse and Mac-Talia. (Norman Chalmers)
Cumbernauld Celtic Arts Festival. The Humpff Family play Cumbernauld Theatre on Fri 4, Gaherlunzie on Sat 5 and The Whistlebinkies on Thurs 10.