lou ragland I Travel Alone (4 LP set, £47.50)label: The Numero Group
I Travel Alone follows hero, Lou Ragland, through various and sundry styles, studios and combos, capturing one of Cleveland's most daring musicians during his most adventurous decade. With the release of 1970's census data, Cleveland, Ohio, ranked tenth in population among U.S. metropolitan centres. The Forest City had lost nearly 200,000 people in the decade passed, and it would lose 200,000 more before the ball dropped into 1980. Cleveland's legendary stores of musical talent would mirror that exodus, as no one-from Albert Ayler to Screamin' Jay Hawkins, from Bobby Womack to Edwin Starr, from Tracy Chapman to Chrissie Hynde- managed to break nationally until after they'd left the city limits. Even the O'Jays, greater Cleveland's most enduring soul demigods, rode their "Love Train" not out of Cleveland Union Terminal but departing from Philadelphia's 30th Street Station with Gamble & Huff as the rails. No one made it in Cleveland, despite the hundreds that tried. I Travel Alone gathers together the work of a pre-flight Lou Ragland, laid down during those fertile Cleveland years when he did most of his traveling between Hough and Garfield Heights, up and down Kinsman Road, out to Lakewood or Euclid...maybe Parma if the situation called for it. Stuffed into a '65 Mustang, guitar case angled between the seats, his LPs stashed in the trunk, Lou Ragland never was quite alone, though he followed a road all his own.
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