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Lou Johnson

Often dismissed as little more than "the male Dionne Warwick," uptown soul singer Lou Johnson indeed rivaled Warwick as the premier interpreter of the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David during the composing team's formative years, but unlike so many of the vocalists who recorded the duo's work, commercial success proved frustratingly elusive. Born in 1941, Johnson first surfaced as a member of the vocal group the Zionettes before going solo in 1963. He signed with Big Top Records, a subsidiary of the Brill Building publishing firm Hill & Range; his debut effort, "Unsatisfied," earned little notice, so Johnson was assigned to the fledgling team of composer Bacharach and lyricist David. With his dramatic, smoky vocals and melodic flexibility, the singer proved ideally matched to Bacharach and David's material: the first of their collaborative efforts, "Magic Potion," remains perhaps more notable for its B-side "Reach Out for Me," recorded by Warwick a few months later in what amounted to a virtual note-for-note cover. But while Johnson's version was not a hit, Warwick's was -- it was a scenario that would play out several more times in the years to follow. His next single, the stately "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me," would prove his biggest hit, peaking at number 49 in 1964; Bacharach himself then escorted Johnson to Britain, introducing the singer on the BBC television program Top of the Pops, but again his recording was superseded by a near-identical cover, this time by U.K. girl group queen Sandie Shaw. Johnson's next Bacharach/David-penned effort was arguably his best: the beautiful "Kentucky Bluebird (Send a Message to Martha)" nevertheless failed to crack the Hot 100 altogether, although British teen idol Adam Faith faithfully copied its arrangement on his way to a massive U.K. hit. The B-side of "Kentucky Bluebird," the cult favorite "The Last One to Be Loved," proved Johnson's last session with Bacharach and David at the helm -- somewhat remarkably, their collaborative work would not merit commercial reissue until the release of the three-disc anthology Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection over three decades later. On his own, Johnson recorded a handful of subsequent Big Top singles including "Thank You Anyway (Mr. DJ)" and "Park Avenue" before the label terminated his contract; he next surfaced at Cotillion in 1969, issuing his first-ever full-length LP, the self-explanatory Sweet Southern Soul. After 1971's Volt label release With You in Mind, Johnson's ill-fated recording career finally dwindled to a halt -- in subsequent years he was a fixture of the Los Angeles nightclub circuit, also performing in a latter-day version of the Ink Spots. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: '50s & '60s Lost & Found Records Vol. 3

Disc 1

1. Plaything

2. The Big Heavy

3. Swinging Sweethearts

4. Starry Eyed

5. Journey To Love

6. Mister Fire Eyes

7. I See A Star

8. Roberta

9. Kookie Little Paradise

10. Ruby Duby Du From Key Witness

11. Someone Loves You, Joe

12. Bobby

13. Little Sister Beware

14. Forever Ambrose

15. How Will It End?

16. Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)

17. The Teacher

18. Bridge Of Love

19. Little Dipper

20. Gonna Get Some Records

21. Magic Star (Telstar)

22. The Girl On The Billboard

23. Dedicated (To The Songs I Love)

24. I Could Have Loved You So Well

25. (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me

26. Waitin' For The Evenin' Train

27. Soul Dance

28. Roses Are Red My Love

29. Let Me Through

30. Hot Pepper

31. Bonnie Do

32. Sippin' 'n Chippin'

33. Monster Swim

34. Just For Tonight

35. Cheryl's Goin' Home

36. Cowboy Boots

37. Stand By Me

38. Devotion

39. I Want My Baby Back

40. Band Of Gold

Disc 2

1. Kerry Pipers Rock

2. Anyway That You Want Me

3. Enamorado

4. Rockin' Johnny Home

5. Give Me One More Chance

6. Sealed With A Kiss

7. Young Abe Lincoln

8. Pollyanna

9. Contract On Love

10. Little Eeefin Annie

11. Drums

12. For You Alone

13. My Baby's Just Crazy 'bout Elvis

14. Don't Wanna Think About Paula

15. In The Mood

16. Don't Go

17. That's It

18. If You Can't Rock Me

19. Philadelphia U.S.A.

20. (Gary, Please Don't Sell) My Diamond Ring

21. The Fortune Teller

22. Hootenanny Granny

23. Blue Guitar

24. Teenage Meeting

25. The Ballad Of Davy Crockett

26. China Nights (Shina No Yoru)

27. Little Miss U.S.A.

28. Everlovin'

29. Gallant Men

30. Billy

31. I Looked At Heaven

32. In The Midnight Hour

33. Cry On My Shoulder

34. Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)

35. Lullabye From Rosemary's Baby

36. Big Bruce

37. Words

38. Happy

39. Kay

40. I Hear You Say (I Love You Baby)

x

Track List: What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977)

Disc 1

2. Soul Finger

5. The Memphis Train

7. Live Right Now

10. Snatching It Back

14. Don't Come Around Here Anymore

15. Keep On Dancing

22. Rock Me Baby

23. Sing A Simple Song

24. Do You Dig It

25. Funky Canyon

Disc 2

1. Gossip

2. Somebody In The World For You

3. Stanga

4. Jumpin' Jack Flash

5. The Deacon

7. Right On

8. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go

9. Stepping Stones

10. I'm Just Like You

12. Messie Bessie

13. Fairchild

14. Cold Bear

15. I Can't Get Next To You

16. Feelin' Alright

17. Soul Bowl

18. Tuane

21. Engine Number 9

Disc 3

1. Hard Times

3. Headless Heroes

4. Spinning Wheel

5. Bad Tune

6. Mr. Cool

7. Don't Cha Hear Me Callin' To Ya

8. Hang On In There

10. Whatever's Fair

11. Face It

12. Wah Wah Man

13. Rock Steady (Alternate Mix)

14. Won't Nobody Listen

15. Goin' Down

16. Suavecito

17. You Gotta Know Whatcha Doin'

19. Ridin' Thumb

20. Almendra

21. Nuki Suki

Disc 4

2. 8 Days On The Road

3. Moon Shadow

5. Wanaoh

7. Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky

9. Kissing My Love

10. Flute Thing

13. Try It Again

14. . Teasin'

15. (Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away

17. Rien Ne Va Plus

18. Cajun Moon

19. Improve

20. Riding High

22. California Dreamin'

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