Lou Rawls: Willow Weep for Me
Willow Weep for Me
Lou Rawls with Les McCann Ltd.
Stormy Monday (aka I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water) (Capitol SM 1714)
Ron Jefferson (drums).
Composed by Ann Ronell.
Recorded: Hollywood, CA, January 1962
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Although he'd made his first recordings in a gospel group during 1954, and was subsequently seasoned as a backup vocalist with, among others, R&B legend Sam Cooke, Stormy Monday marked Lou Rawls's debut album as a leader. On this track, the silky throated singer puts his indelible stamp on a well-worn standard. Nicely accompanied by the soulful blues pianist Les McCann and his trio, Rawls makes an auspicious entrance into the world of jazz and blues with this gutsy rendition.
A deliberately slow tempo set by McCann's blues-tinged piano intro forces Rawls to use his evocative voice to wring out the words in his most soulful way. His delivery creates perfect pathos with his addition of "oooooouu cover me"—emphasis on the elongated "ooooouuu"—sung in a delightfully heart-wrenching way.
After the first chorus, McCann adroitly steps up the tempo, playing a more upbeat blues solo that releases the tension built from the graver tones set earlier by the singer. Rawls swings back into the second verse, quickly adding an element of hope that wisely rescues the performance from melodrama. But this is after all the blues, which he and McCann know better than most. They skillfully return to the slower tempo, allowing Rawls to extract his last bit of angst from the performance. With his beautifully sensuous voice, Rawls heightens the drama, ending on a smoothly sustained note that fades into nothingness.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello