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Lou Christie Live at the Bottom Line

Lou Christie - Greatest Hits Live at the Bottom Line

Lou Christie Live at the Bottom Line

CD review by Laura Pinto

Those of us who grew up with the music of Lou Christie will remember his flawless falsettos on such hits as "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" and "Lightning Strikes" - the latter became his signature song and forever after earned him the nickname "Lightning Lou." In this concert, recorded live at the Bottom Line nightclub in New York City in October 2003, Lou proves that he can still reach the high notes without stumbling on the way up the ladder - he offers us his greatest hits, and more, sung in the same key as when he originally recorded them.
 
After the exciting live intro gets us in the mood, and Lou gets us in the groove with his opening number, "I Still Wanna Rock & Roll With You," the handsome and still-youthful entertainer launches into his first Top 40 record, from 1962, "The Gypsy Cried," which he delivers - yes - in the same key as the original recording. He then goes on to sing an uncensored version of his 1966 offering "Rhapsody in the Rain," a tune which was (gasp!) actually banned by several markets for its risque lyric: "We were makin' out in the rain" (Lou actually had to change this to "We fell in love in the rain" in order to get airplay). What a difference 38 years makes - this song wouldn't even raise an eyebrow these days. Whether it's about makin' out or falling in love, or going "much too far," this song, with its touch of Tchaikovsky, is always a delight to listen to.
 
The next track is Lou's wonderfully romantic version of the 1965 Mel Carter hit "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me," delivered with rapturous longing - every lady in the audience that night was surely wishing Lou were singing this song directly to her. Oh, be still my heart! Next on deck, another falsetto-laden early hit, "Two Faces Have I," followed by a vintage number Lou recorded originally in 1974 and which became a Top 20 hit on the Adult Contemporary charts, "Beyond the Blue Horizon." Lou's recording enjoyed a resurgence of popularity when Barry Levinson included it in his 1988 film, Rain Man, which starred Tom Cruise and Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman.
 
After the uptempo "The Heart of Saturday Night," Lou pays tribute to the late, great Roy Orbison with Orbison's "It's Over." Next up, "I'm Gonna Make You Mine," Lou's top-tenner from 1969 (complete with the high notes, of course!) ... and then a pleasant surprise, my personal favorite of this CD's tracks, a thinly disguised (and oh-so-delicious) autobiographical number titled "Rita, Joanie and the Wayward Wind" ... ahhh, the temptations of an entertainer on the road, and woe to the ladies who fall for him - this isn't your mama's "The Wayward Wind," and if the vamp intro doesn't clue you in, the lyrics surely will. Lou's backup gals, The Crayons, step in with some brilliantly executed counterpoint vocals during the final repitition of the verse.
 
The delightful "Sure Fell in Love With You" follows, and is itself followed by an equally delightful "Mack the Knife," always a crowd pleaser and very well done by Lou - you won't be able to keep your fingers from snapping or your toes from tapping. Lou concludes with his signature song, "Lightnin' Strikes" - still nailing the high notes - before encoring with the Association hit "Never My Love."
 
This CD also includes a bonus track, Lou's charming "Christmas in New York," featuring The Crayons on backing vocals. Even if you aren't from the Metro NYC area, this song will make you want to visit Rockefeller Center at tree-lighting time, or at the very least snuggle up with your lover in front of the TV to watch it live!
 
Lightning Lou Christie is a talented, charismatic performer, and this wonderful CD is a must-have for your collection.

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