Madonna. Prince. Cher. Lou.
Unfamiliar with the last performer? With some notable names attached to his latest album, The Other Side (Cornerworld Records), and a promotional push in full swing, the surname-free pianist/producer from Massachusetts is hoping that changes.
Medleyville.us: Do you recall where you were when you first saw the full-page Billboard ad for your new album, and what was your immediate reaction?
Lou: “I was in a Borders [store] in Boston, and I [thought], ‘Wow, Enya‘s on the cover, and I’m on the back.’ ”
There have been quite a few artists named Lou in the music business, but none went by just their first name. That said, let’s test your Lou knowledge. In the spirit of Alex Trebeck and Jeopardy, please put your answers — in other words, the last names of these five guys named Lou — in the form of a question. First up: This Lou, a deep-voiced R&B singer best known for the 1976 hit “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” died recently after a battle with cancer.
Lou: “Who is Lou Rawls?”
Very good — correct.
Lou: “I knew that was going to be one of them. I don’t know many Lous.”
It gets harder from here. Next up: This Lou was a member of the influential band Velvet Underground and had a solo hit in 1973 with “Walk on the Wild Side.”
Lou: “Who is Lou Reed?”
Correct again. Number three: This Lou, a New Orleans native, was a jazz singer and trumpet player who had a pop hit in 1958 with “That Old Black Magic.”
Lou: “Is it just Lou, or could it be Louis?”
He went by both, actually.
Lou: “I wanna say Lou Armstrong.”
Close — the correct answer is: “Who is Lou or Louie Prima?”
Lou: “Then I’m going down from here.”
Number four: This Lou sang in a piercing falsetto and had big pop hits in the 1960s that included “The Gypsy Cried,” “Lightnin’ Strikes” and “I’m Gonna Make You Mine.”
Lou: “I have no idea.”
The answer is Lou Christie. Last but not least, this Lou produced hits for the Mamas and Papas and these days can be seen sitting courtside near Jack Nicholson at Los Angeles Lakers home games.
Lou: [Long pause]. “I have no idea. I’ll probably know it when you say it.”
The answer is: “Who is Lou Adler?”
Lou: “I wouldn’t have gotten that.”
Let’s talk about your new album, The Other Side. You have it divided into three sides: club, piano and bonus. What’s the strategy there?
Lou: “I just had tons of songs that I wanted to choose from, and I couldn’t decide. The last record I had done was all piano-type stuff, and a lot of people like the dance sides I was doing, so I wanted to put a collection out there of the different sides and see what the public thought. And depending on what happens with this . . . the next record won’t be like this. It will be either be one or the other.”
And how are you measuring the reaction to the different parts?
Lou: “I get letters, I get e-mails, I get MySpace comments. And then I also go to Amazon.com, and people who have bought the record [include their comments] — what they like about the CD and what they don’t like. And then when they see the track I did with Lita Ford, then it’s like, ‘Well, he’s just all over the place.’ ” [laughs]
Speaking of Lita, how did you hook up with her to do the song “I Want to be Loved”?
Lou: “I had been approached to do a remake of a song for a movie that never came out . . . and so I called her up and [asked her to do it with me]. We went into the studio, and I just started playing some ideas, and she started playing with me. And so we said, ‘Screw the other song — let’s do this’ It kind of wrote itself within an hour in the studio, and we just recorded it. And the movie never happened, so we ended up having the song. A lot of people said it should go on the CD, so we put it on as a bonus.”
Did you have any desire to make the tune a duet so you could say you walked in the same shoes as Ozzy Osbourne?
Lou: “I’ve been told the song could be a duet, but I’m not much of a singer, so I wouldn’t have been able to do much as far as that. If I had sung it, it wouldn’t have been on the album [laughs]. But there’s a lot of people who liked the song. There’s been a country demo made of it and shopped to people in Nashville . . . there’s a lot of interest in the song, so I’m sure it will end up on someone’s record as a single.”
So far, what has the public reaction been to the album, and which side of the album do people like the best?
Lou: “All of the comments have been positive, so people are leaning toward the club side. So we’re releasing “Only You” as a single [this month], and we have some well-known DJs doing remixes of that track.”
Who are some the DJs involved?
Lou: “Tracy Young — her last remix was for Madonna‘s ‘Hung Up.’ ”
And how is Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone involved with the “Only You” video?
Lou: “He’s the director.”
Any tour plans for 2006?
Lou: “We are going to be doing some touring in the late spring and summer . . . it would probably be opening for someone.”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior