Nothing compares to Lewis Taylor and nobody crafts a "B-Side" quite like him. Indeed, his long deleted B-Sides are the stuff of legend. So, gathered together for the first time on one slice of wax, we present The Damn Rest: an album's worth of B-Sides from the era of the 1996 Lewis Taylor ("Damn") album. More off-the-wall and abstract than the album proper, these rare, underheard tracks burst with Lewis's uncompromising genius. A lot more experimental, the music is still drop dead beautiful. The Damn Rest is the essential bridge between Lewis Taylor and Lewis II.
Lewis Taylor's self-titled masterpiece from 1996 was to be originally called Damn. You can see the word right there on the from cover. However, concerns over distribution in the US scuppered this desired title. When thinking about what to call this collection of essential B-Sides from the era of that first album, we thought The Damn Rest would be appropriate. But these tracks aren't simply throwaways or outtakes, as Lewis himself states: "each little group were recorded specifically for the release of each 'single'." These B-Sides were simply the next thing to happen after self-titled, and before Lewis II. In other words, you need this!
The collection opens with "Asleep When You Come", the A2 on the original "Lucky" 12". It's a slow-mo string-drenched soul offering, cast in cinematic soft-focus with a vocal performance from the heavens set against wonky, shuffling drums and delicate instrumental flourishes. Beautiful. Also from the "Lucky" single, "You Got Me Thinking" may actually be Lewis' funkiest moment and is definitely one of our favourites, a great, gently psychedelic funky club track, that's for sure. Next, the gorgeous, meandering "I Dream The Better Dream" is just sheer, metronomic bliss, with shades of Stevie Wonder. Just ask D’Angelo, who included the track on his Feverish Phantasmagoria show for Sonos. Not only a celebrity-fan-favourite, it's Lewis's, too: "My favourite has always been this track. In my fantasy it’s what early Soft Machine would’ve sounded like if Marvin Gaye was their lead singer."
As we move to the B-sides from the "Whoever" single, the first to feature is "Pie In The Electric Sky / If I Lay Down". It's a brilliantly sprawling classic. A head-nod funk workout in two parts; part psychedelic heavy soul jam, part breezy Marvin-esque near-instrumental of the deeply lush variety. It needs to be heard to be believed. Astonishing! Flip over for "Waves", a shimmering, dramatic, sweeping string-led fan favourite. The climax of the song is just too stunning for words. It's followed by the deep wyrd-soul of "Trip So Heavy" the final, dizzying track from the "Whoever" single and another celestial funk delight featuring strings, organ, twisted bass and heavy drums. From the "Bittersweet" 12", "A Little Bit Tasty" is a building, schizophrenic soul-jazz epic that starts out with Lewis performing a call and (distant) response with himself over a gentle mid-90s drum loop before snatches of heavy, crunching metal guitars blast apart the otherwise neat song structure. Ultimately, it's unarguable that The Damn Rest is worth it for the inclusion of the jaw-dropping "Lewis III" alone. A dazzlingly lush and stunningly sophisticated prog/soul hybrid that owes as much to "Pet Sounds" as "What's Going On" with arrangements that grow and unfold in layers. Just sparkling.
A compilation like this feels like one of those promo-only rarities they used to give out to a select few back in the good old days, so when it came to the artwork it only made sense to follow what Cally Callomon (head of Island’s art department) had done for the singles and promos back in the 90s. He even did us some fresh scribbles of “The Damn Rest” to match his handwriting that’s all over the first album and its singles. We hope you like it as much as the music contained within. Simon Francis’s vinyl mastering ensures these classic recordings sound as great as they deserve to. The record has been cut by Cicely Balston at Air Studios and pressed at Record Industry. We've lost Prince. We still have Lewis.