Lulu Goes To The Shoals

Originally posted January 19, 2007

The main thing that makes this LP interesting is that Lulu recorded it at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound studios in Alabama, with the renowned rhythm section behind her: Roger Hawkins on drums, David Hood on bass, Barry Beckett on keyboards. In addition, Duane Allman was one of four guitarists who pitched in; Eddie Hinton, Jimmy Johnson and Cornell Dupree were the others.

Still, this is not quite the kick-ass southern soul fest it might have been. Here’s [the] All-Music Guide take on it:

“Lulu in Muscle Shoals, with Duane Allman on guitar? It’s just too bad somebody went a little wild with big-band and orchestra arrangements, for with these songs and a small combo, this could have been really fine material. Blame can go to the producing triumvirate [Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd & Arif Mardin], but also to her husband. During this stage of Lulu’s career she was married to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, who seems to have had a habit of luring artists into recording near-muzak, with the ‘near’ added out of a sense of politeness. For this to be happening in the musically gritty atmosphere of Muscle Shoals, with not only Allman but three other hot guitarists on board, is practically cause for criminal proceedings. Lulu still has that thick, soulful voice, but at times the way it sits on the arrangements may make the listener think of an Anne Murray record. On the positive side, the cover of the Bee Gees’ ‘Marley Purt Drive’ is a rollicking version of one of the Gibbs brothers’ best, and largely forgotten, songs. Miracles are done with the warhorse ‘Mr. Bojangles,’ between the bluesy guitar licks and the intoxicating surprise that Lulu is actually pulling it off. Then again there is ‘Feelin’ Allright,’ which should have been great but instead sounds like a high school stage band warming up.”

I tend to agree, with a couple of reservations: Both “Dirty Old Man” and “Sweep Around Your Own Back Door,” cook, with Allman providing sweet work on the former for certain (it was included on one of his posthumous anthologies in the 1970s) and likely on the latter (based simply on the sound).

The rest is sometimes a little too sweet, but it does contain one of my favorite recordings of all time: “Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby),” which I’ve loved since the first time I heard it coming out of my radio speakers in 1970.

Track list
Marley Purt Drive
In The Morning
People In Love
After All (I Live My Life)
Feelin’ Alright
Dirty Old Man
Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby)
Is That You Love
Mr. Bojangles
Where’s Eddie
Sweep Around Your Own Back Door

Lulu – New Routes [1970]

Once again, this is vinyl, 37 years old this time, so some pops and snaps are to be expected, though I thought the sound was pretty good. Enjoy!


One Response to “Lulu Goes To The Shoals”

  1. Otis, Neil & Gypsy « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] New Routes by Lulu [1970] Original post here. […]

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