Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lou Ragland Travel's Alone

Is there anything that Numero can't do? I've been following this label from the get go and it has constantly delivered priceless rarities of the highest order. Where they find the records they reissue or how they find them is beyond me, I'm just glad they do. While there have been some diversions into folk territory, and other genres they built their reputation on their soul reissues and truth be told they are worth more than their weight in gold. The latest of these reissues is Lou Ragland's I Travel Alone box set.

I Travel Alone is a four record set that's caught between decades and crossovers. This is a series of recordings that's smack dab in the middle of soul music giving way to funk and Lou Ragland as a result jumps between genres as if he were playing hopscotch. While this might hinder some artists, Ragland is undaunted and does so with style and ease whether it's on his own or with his group Hot Chocolate (no...not that one). I Travel Alone is an amazing journey of classic soul sounds that will remind you of any host of classic soul singers (Otis, Sam, Sam & Dave & uh..Lou) and then just for the funk of it, Ragland occasionally gets down with his bad self. And you know what? I Travel Alone never suffers because of it. This is an awesome box set of soulful ballads, funky grooves, and classic soul sounds (that weren't really classic when this was recorded) that's all sung and played with so much heart, so much purity, and so much honesty it's impossible for it to be bad. This is amazing stuff that's so essential it's worth giving up water for...seriously.

At an incredible four records (or three CD's) I Travel Alone is an amazing document of one of Cleveland's long lost soul heroes. It's a journey from his early days as a member of Hot Chocolate to his solo career that never quite took off in the way it should have. Ragland is an American treasure that deserves to be unearthed and revered. This set attempts (and succeeds) at doing just that. His work is awesome, his voice pure and his songs are fantastic. I Travel Alone is an incredible story committed to vinyl and anyone who considers themselves a fan of soul music should pick this up immediately. Lou deserves it.

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