Monday, March 22, 2010

Lou Bond - 'Lou Bond' [Light In The Attic]
Written by Imran Mirza
The beauty of music is that you can discover it at any time.  Good music is timeless and transcends generations... and I can't think of a better opener to discuss Lou Bond's self-titled album than that.

Hailing from Memphis, Lou Bond became a part of the Stax family, or more specifically their subsidiary label, We Produce, in the early 70s and released his 6-track album under the imprint in 1974.

Stax Records are legendary for their soul offerings from the likes of icons, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Booker T & The MGs, but Lou Bond's release is hardly one that would fit snugly in amongst the Stax catalogue.  Where a huge portion of classic soul music tips its hat respectfully to gospel music, Bond was keen to cite country and western influences almost above those of his church roots.  As a result, perhaps more appropriately dubbed ‘universal soul’, Bond doesn’t waste a second on this release as he uses the album to challenge aspects of society – from senseless wars, untrustworthy governments, unrequited love and failed relationships, but it’s an album filled with hope as much as it focuses on these negative aspects. 

Songs like the impassioned ‘Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards’ and the awesome ‘To The Establishment’ are songs with as much relevance today as they had when they were first released, and will more than likely ring true in another 40 years.

Lush orchestration by The Memphis Symphony Orchestra and rich horns by The Horns of South Memphis really elevate the work laid down by Lou Bonds, and his guitar, and deliver an almost folk-ish finish and arrangement that works exceptionally well, but which ultimately may have left Stax with little idea on how to present the product upon its initial release.

As much as quality music purchasers should be applauded, fans are doing themselves a disservice by not picking up a copy of the CD itself as the icing on the cake to this reissue (aside from the previously unreleased bonus track) is really the bonus booklet that comes along with it, which features an incredibly written feature and interview with Bond himself, along with contributions from artists he played with, members of Stax and friends from his childhood.  Reading about Bond's childhood amongst numerous foster homes, and his time living on the streets, makes songs like 'That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be' even that much more significant, and haunting in its own way, as the Carly Simon-penned song muses over marriage and family, and the expectations and disappointments they can bring:

You say we'll soar like two birds through the clouds
But soon you'll cage me on your shelf
I'll never learn to be just me first
By myself

At the risk of ending with an overstatement – this really is an important release.  It’s been dubbed among several sources as a ‘masterpiece’ but reading that, as a prospective listener, is like being told the twist ending to ‘The Usual Suspects’ or ‘The Sixth Sense’ – the fun is in finding that out for yourselves, and after you’ve heard ‘Lou Bond’ from front to back… you will find that out yourself.  You’ll smile, you’ll think, you’ll probably even be sad, but that’s a rare gift that music that can give you, so cherish it.

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