Fifteen years ago, Arthur Alexander finally made the album that would give him the acclaim he was denied for decades, in spite of being a crucial influence on the two biggest rock groups of all time.
His comeback album, Lonely Just Like Me, was as warm and wounded as a fresh heartbreak, lovingly produced by Ben Vaughn and recorded down South with the musicians who backed Arthur s hits in the 60s and 70s. Upon its release, Arthur was shown all the love an artist could hope for. Entertainment Tonight filmed a full segment. Rolling Stone declared the album stunning in a feature review. NPR s "Fresh Air" broadcast a live-in-studio concert (included in the upcoming disc) and, in an unprecedented move, brought Arthur back two weeks later for a full sit-down interview.
But just as every Arthur Alexander song seemed to end in heartbreak, so did his return to the spotlight. Within days of the album s release, Arthur passed away. In the wake of his death this wonderful album faded into little more than a bittersweet memory shared by everyone he touched.
Now HackTone Records will finally give this album the audience it deserves. Lonely Just Like Me:The Final Chapter tells the full story of Arthur Alexander s triumphant re-emergence. Surrounding the original Elektra/Nonesuch album are never-before-heard demos made in a tiny Cleveland hotel room, Arthur s entire live session for NPR s Fresh Air and even a song from the 1991 Bottom Line concert which landed Arthur his new record deal. Produced with the full participation of everyone involved with the original Elektra/Nonesuch album, this is a loving tribute to a legend s final triumph.
Admired as a songwriter but overlooked as soul singer, Alabama-born Arthur Alexander was in the early stages of a career revival in 1993 (the year he released Lonely Just Like Me on Nonesuch Records) when he died unexpectedly, aged 53, shortly after a performance. Believed to be the only songwriter whose songs have been covered by the Rolling Stones ("You Better Move On"), the Beatles ("Anna"), Bob Dylan, and Elvis Presley, Alexander abandoned music at age 40 after he grew disillusioned with the music industry after publishing deals yielded little return for him. He worked in Cleveland at a center for disadvantaged kids and drove a bus, which explains the disc's cover art. Musician/producer Ben Vaughn coaxed Alexander to record again and served as producer for Lonely Just Like Me, a warm, understated collection of storytelling tunes, mostly hard-luck tales of upright men struggling to find a niche in an unfair word. This disc includes the entire '93 Nonesuch recording plus an enlightening interview/live performance (tracks 13-20) originally broadcast on NPR's Fresh Air. Here, Alexander's genuineness and sincerity are memorably chronicled, and for Alexander devotees its inclusion makes this recording an especially inviting package. Alexander's voice did not have the broadest range, he rarely used backup vocalists, and he kept his instrumentation (often accented with a subtle country lilt) quite simple. His most endearing quality as a vocalist was the earnestness, clarity, and dignity of his singing, which deepened the poignancy of his songs' prevailing theme of heartbreak. Also included are five lo-fi hotel-room demos, a live version of "Anna," and liner notes from Vaughn. --Terry Wood
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