Lou Bond is an enigma mostly because the music industry seems to have forgotten about him time and time again. With a vocal style that sounded like a raspier version of Jackie Wilson, and an often-political musical vision that mixed street poetry with Memphis soul, Bond recorded several sharp sides for Chess Records in the early 1960s, most of which ended up on the shelf and were largely ignored. He recorded a one-of-a-kind masterpiece called simply Lou Bond for the Stax Records subsidiary We Produce in 1974. The album, which sounded like Isaac Hayes crossed with Richie Havens and an early coming of Grandmaster Flash, made no commercial impact at all at the time of its release, and went quickly out of print. Some of the tracks, though, like the stirring “To the Establishment,” the wise “Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards,” and the haunting “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” made the underground rounds, and Lou Bond the album became a highly sought-after lost treasure. Bond issued a couple of more singles, one on Fontana in 1966 and another on Brainstorm a year later in 1967, and then slipped away under the radar again, although later-era artists like OutKast and Prodigy went on to sample “To the Establishment,” which added intrigue to the whole story. Light in the Attic Records reissued Lou Bond across the digital board in 2010, adding four live performances recorded around the same time period, all of which brought Bond forward into the 21st century, although the Chess material remained locked away and impossible to find. ~ Steve Leggett
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