Lewis Taylor's legendary magnum opus: The Lost Album. "Now you're talking. That's my favourite LT album. Unlike all of the others, there isn't anything about it that embarrasses me." Straight from the genius's mouth. What can we say about this? Well, it's the most requested record ever at Be With Towers.
The Lost Album was the intended follow-up to his first album but Island rejected it for fear of "confusing" the marketplace and its conception of Lewis as a soul artist. Their loss. It's a breezy sunset masterpiece.
Hide Your Heart Away
Send Me An Angel
Leader Of The Band
Please Help Me If You Can
Let’s Hope Nobody Finds Us
Say I Love You
See My Way
One More Mystery
Lewis Taylor's legendary magnum opus: The Lost Album. "Now you're talking. That's my favourite LT album. Unlike all of the others, there isn't anything about it that embarrasses me." Straight from the genius's mouth. What can we say about this? Well, it's the most requested record ever at Be With Towers. The Lost Album was the intended follow-up to his first album but Island rejected it for fear of "confusing" the marketplace and its conception of Lewis as a soul artist. Their loss. It's a breezy sunset masterpiece.
The genesis of this incredible record needs unpicking a bit. Lewis stopped promoting the first album after a year and went home to record a completely different record that was the most un-R&B album you could probably ever hear: "I pushed in such an extreme direction the other way with what eventually became The Lost Album. It was a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived ‘trapped in R&B’ feeling I was going through at the time. Some people around me were in favour of it and others weren’t. In the end I think I lost confidence in it and did Lewis II instead." We did at least get Lewis II, which is a remarkable album, and he kept Island happy...for a bit. Not long after, Lewis was dropped. And what was to become The Lost Album could've been...er...lost. Forever.
Thankfully, however, Lewis and longtime partner Sabina Smyth revisited those scrapped demo tracks in 2003. They decided to re-arrange, re-record and then self-release them. So it was that the brand new version of The Lost Album finally dropped in late 2004. It's sheer perfection, and we don't say that lightly. The Lost Album was a fully 50/50 collaboration between Lewis and Smyth. As well as production, Sabina did a lot more writing on it, from the melody to "Listen Here" to the chord sequence for "Let's Hope Nobody Finds Us." Thankfully, Sabina is credited this time around.
No, it's not straight up "soul music" in the vein of his previous work. Yet, in its perfectly formed suite of one dozen songs, The Lost Album is dripping in soul. It's so warm, so effervescent and so alive with possibilities. It features deep, fresh imprints on well-loved, accessible sounds. It's a proper 70s style double album. Just one listen and the musical influences on The Lost Album are fairly self-explanatory, as Lewis recently told us, but it's always nice to hear that, in case we were in any doubt, he was definitely channeling Love, Yes, Brian Wilson, CSN, Laura Nyro and, of course, Todd Rundgren. The influences don't end there: "I’m particularly fond of my bass playing on that album, there’s a lot of Chris Squire going on which is cool."
Deep orchestral opener "Lost" is a sublime, harp-laced, string drenched gem, a cinematic, melancholic Axelrod-esque mini-epic that simply beguiles. Written by Smyth, it evokes Donny Hathaway's celestial "I Love The Lord, He Heard My Cry" from Extensions Of A Man. The only problem is the brief 90 seconds running time. It segues into the classic Brian Wilson-meets-power-pop-rock splendour of "Listen Here" which, with its outstanding extended harp-licked beatless intro, sounds like the younger cousin to Boston's "More Than A Feeling". We then drift into the ringing guitars of classic 70s rock anthem "Hide Your Heart Away". It's Lewis's personal favourite, "especially the multi-tracked guitar solo – I was listening to Boston at the time, which was fun." A-ha!
A new version of the heart-stopping, shoulda-been-a-massive-pop-hit "Send Me An Angel" opens Side B before the arrival of, in Lewis's completely correct words, "the clear standout, "Leader of the Band"; the perfect distillation of everything that album was trying to achieve." Soaring, piano-led Rundgren-esque power pop that makes the hairs on the back of your next stand on end. Truly, otherworldly. This is pure pop for now (and then) people. The simple jangly brilliance meets experimental prog-rock of "Yeah" sounds like simultaneously like prime CSNY and late 90s Radiohead (if they'd had a slightly more accessible bent and could write better tunes).
Oh, you wish The Beach Boys had continued writing amazing songs beyond Holland? Well, allow us to point you in the direction of the downlifting stunner "Please Help Me If You Can" and the warm textures and brilliant atmospherics of goosebump-inducer "Let’s Hope Nobody Finds Us". Words can't really describe the sheer beauty of these songs. So we'll stop trying. Just listen. Listen, listen, listen. Closing out this remarkable side of music, the accidentally Balearic "New Morning" should be blasting out at every sunrise set in Ibiza, this summer and forevermore.
The final side opens with the vaguely Beatlesey "Say I Love You". It's just classic, soaring pop-rock songwriting and should strictly be canonical. It's that good. The sassy, Stonesy swagger of "See My Way" injects enough rock'n'roll attitude to compensate for the rest of record's peace-loving, AOR sun-dappled vibe whilst album closer, "One More Mystery", emerging out of the rubble of the previous track, comes on initially like a Baroque-Pop George Harrison before piling crunching drums and screeching guitar solos atop the dreamy harmonies til close.
When asked what it means to have these records available on vinyl for the first time, Lewis is in no doubt: "It’s great and it’s really nice to be able to offer fans a different listening experience. There’s a whole other dimension with vinyl that taps into that whole nostalgia thing, well for me anyway. Something about the physical aspect of pulling it out of the sleeve and putting it on, it does tend to make you feel like you’re more engaged."
Lewis was adamant that he wanted all new artwork for The Lost Album vinyl sleeve and his brief was just the sort of classic tropical-beach-at-sunset you’d want to see on the front of a record that sounds like this. On the finished sleeve, the beach at sunset is just where we start out, before heading up through the painterly clouds and heading out into the stars. And yes, the lettering is a definite subtle nod to all those in-between-period Beach Boys bootlegs we all love. Simon Francis's sensitive mastering combines with Cicely Balston's precise cut for Alchemy at AIR Studios so the album sounds appropriately outstanding. The immaculate Record Industry double LP pressing will ensure this previously lost masterpiece stays forever found.