Rare, Unreleased, and Live, 1965-2002
Jackie Lomax was a fine Liverpudlian crooner, contemporary of the Beatles, and friend of George Harrison. He began his career with The Undertakers, and after a handful of singles under various monikers, he embarked on a solo career, which he sustained until his passing in 2012. Rare, Unreleased, and Live is a two-disc collection that offers to the world thirty-eight unheard and rare recordings from throughout the entirety of Lomax’s career.
It’s clear from his earliest recordings that Lomax is a talented vocalist. “Throw Your Love Away,” from his band The Undertakers, is an upbeat Merseybeat rocker, and though they released a handful of excellent singles, they would split. He would release a handful of singles under a handful of monikers before going solo. “Genuine Imitation Life,” from 1967, is a dark, brooding number that recalls the early work of Scott Walker. He would be the first signing to Apple Records, and his first single, “Sour Milk Sea,” was written by George Harrison. That number, and the single’s B-side, “The Eagle Laughs At You,” are presented here in two extremely hot, rousing BBC takes. His last single, “How The Web Was Woven,” is offered here in a version sung in German.
The majority of this set consists of post-Apple sessions, and the results are generally fantastic. Lomax’s voice is always strong, and his songs range from powerful blues belters (“Soul Light,” “Don’t Talk Down To Me”) to mellow soft-rock (“Green Eyes,” “The Little Things Of Love”) and a contemporary California singer-songwriter style glistens the entirety of the set, recorded over a thirty-seven year period. His voice has a tremor not unlike Greetings From LA-era Tim Buckley, soulful yet quietly ominous and somewhat lusty. Unsurprisingly, he would release a cover of that album’s “Devil Eyes in 1990, and it’s easily one of this set’s best moments. Also excellent is the 1976 concert presented here; though the sound quality isn’t the best, what it lacks in fidelity, it makes up in performance, and Lomax considered it his favorite live recording, and it’s easy to understand why; he’s got an expansive band, with horns and backing vocalists, and he’s in fine voice.
But it’s the final three recordings on Rare, Unreleased, and Live, that serve this collection the best. Two of the three, a cover of Albert King’s “I Can’t Hold Out,” and his original, “One Night In Chicago,” are traditional blues-rockers, and, more importantly, come from a reunion project of his band The Undertakers, released in 2008, resulting in the band’s debut album release, forty-three years after they broke up. Lomax was a bluesman to the end, and his very last recording, interestingly, is a cover of The Black Keys’ “Dead And Gone,” and it’s as if he’d never gone away—showing what, exactly, the world lost when he passed away a year later. Lomax may not have much name recognition, but that’s not for a lack of quality, and Rare, Unreleased, and Live shows that Lomax is a man whose catalogue is worth exploring.