Lou Christie

Band members                             Related acts

- Lou Christie (Luigi Alfredo Giovanni Sacco) -- vocals




- The Cantina Band

- The Classics

- Lugee and the Lions

- RItchie and the Runarounds





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Lou Christie Strikes Again

Company: Colpix

Catalog: 4001

Country/State: Glenwillard, Pennsylvania

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: split top seam

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1307

Price: $15.00



On the heels of his commercial successes with 'Lightening Strikes', it shouldn't have come as a surprise to learn that various labels rushed to cash-in with their own prior investments in Lou Christie's career.  In this case, Colpix and Roulette both released 1966 collections entitled  "Lou Christie Strikes Again".   The fact neither retrospective had anything to do with the hit song didn't seem to bother either company.   The Colpix set featured a compilation of previously released 1964-1966 era Colpix singles, mixed with a couple of previously unreleased tracks.  Included in the package were the following  earlier 45s:


- 1964's 'Guitars and Bongos' b/w 'Merry-Go-Round' (Colpix catalog number CP 735) # 123 pop

- 1964's 'Have I Sinned' b/w 'Pot of Gold' (Colpix catalog number CP 753)

- 1965's 'Make Summer Last Forever' b/w 'Why Did You Do It, Baby' (Colpix catalog number CP 770)

- 1965's 'A Teenager in Love' b/w 'Back Track' (Colpix catalog number CP 778)

- 1966's 'Cryin' on My Knees' b/w 'Big Time' (Colpix catalog number CP 796)


Unless you were a hardcore Christie fan, this set probably isn't a "must own" addition to your catalog.   Featuring a mixture of originals and popular covers, musically the set served as a nice overview of Christie attempts to shift away from teeny-bopper pop idol (the hysterical beach party 'Guitars and Bongos' and 'Make Summer Last Forever') to a more contemporary pop singer ('Why Did You Do It Baby') and the truly bizarre 'Have I Sinned').   Christie's instantly identifiable voice was in good shape throughout these twelve tracks, but you also got to hear plenty of the talented and frequently overlook Tammys (Linda Jones, Cathy Owens, and sister Gretchen Owens).  


"Lou Christie Strikes Again" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Big Time    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:05 rating: *** stars

Musically 'Big Time' has always struck me as being kind of a clumsy tune; part '50s teeny bopper and part Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  The combination of Christie's shrillest falsetto and Phil Spector-ish wall of sound production (thanks too Four Seasons producer Charlie Calell), didn't make this particularly enjoyable, which might explain its poor performance on the charts

2.) Guitars and Bongos    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:40   rating: **** stars

At least two my ears this song was always made by the goofy beach party--vibe and the hysterical backing vocals from The Tammys.  The way the sing the title refrain was simply priceless.   Where was Annette Funicello when you needed her ?  One of the album highlights.
3.) Pot of Gold
    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:36 rating: *** stars

Sappy, '50s-flavored ballad that didn't have a great deal going for it.
4.) Why Did You Do It Baby   (Alfred - Farrell) - 2:44
   rating: **** stars

Nice example of Christie trying to update his sound.  Yeah, still pop, but with a much more rock oriented sound and quite impressive. 
5.) Make Summer Last Forever
    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:44  rating: ** stars

Okay, The Tammys made this one sound like Alvin and the chipmunks backing Christie.   Very '50s sounding ballad that was over-the-top sappy
6.) Too Many Miles
    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:23 rating: *** stars

Damn if he couldn't sing high ....   Guess he didn't enjoy his draft stint, though I've always loved the hysterical "write to me" refrain.  Extra for the song's high camp factor.  


(side 2)

1.) Cryin' On My Knees    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:30 rating: *** stars

It may not have aged all that well, but 'Cryin' On My Knees' was a nice example of how Christie could take advantage of his multi-octave voice.  
2.) A Teenager In Love   (Doc Pomus - Mort Shuman) - 1:59
rating: *** stars

The arrangement speeded the tune up a bit; added The Tammys to the mix, and gave it a Phil Spector-ish feel.  When all was said and done, the results were nice, but unlikely to make you forget the Dion and the Belmonts original.  
3.) Don't Let Me Catch You Running Wild
   (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert - Alfred) -  2:45  rating: ** satrs

Sweet, if somewhat goofy mid-tempo tune with a distinctive early-'60s feel.  
4.) Have I Sinned
    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:36   rating: **** stars

One of the weirdest songs he ever recorded, 'Have I Sinned' falls somewhere on the musical spectrum between classical piece (check out the beautiful  piano solos), Catholic confessional (always wondered about the whip sounds), and girl group classic (Christie's falsetto combined with The Tammys hyperactive backing vocals had to be heard).
5.) Back Track
    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:20 rating: *** stars

Started out as a sappy and lame ballad, but got better as it picked up speed and the refrain kicked in.  
6.) If Wishes Could Be Kisses  (Alfred - Farrell) - 2:03
rating: *** stars

Strange blue-eyed soul tune that wasn't bad, but would have been even better if Christie had sung it in a lower register.   




Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  I'm Gonna Make You Mine

Company: Buddah

Catalog: BDS 5052

Country/State: Glenwillard, Pennsylvania

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1290

Price: $15.00


Looking at Lou Christies' career, its interesting how public tastes change so quickly.  After his mid-'60s hits he'd been unable to replicate those earlier successes for string of labels including MGM, Co & Ce, and Columbia.   By 1969 Lou Christie's career appeared to be all but dead.   


Luckily 1969 saw Christie's manager Stan Polley help get him signed to the MGM affiliated Buddah Records where he was promptly teamed with producers Mike Duckman and Stan Vincent.   Vincent was also responsible for penning two of the album's best compositions ('I'll Take the Time' and 'Generation')  For a label best know for its throwaway bubblegum catalog, 1969's "I'm Gonna Make You Mine was surprisingly enjoyable.  Admittedly this may not have been the perfect Christie LP,  but by my count at least seven of the ten tracks were worth hearing more than once, with at least four of the tunes being excellent   The real problem with this one seems to be Christie wasn't sure what to do with his professional second chance.  The result was an album that attempted to cover a large swatch of the musical landscape including MOR-pop ('The Thought of Losing You'),  blue-eyed soul ('I'll Take Time'), bubblegum ('Down When It's Up - Up When It's Down'), and even occasional nods to hipper trends (the bouncy ' Generation').  Again, it was surprising how much of the album was enjoyable, with Christie showing himself to be far more versatile than you would have expected.


"I'm Gonna Make You Mine" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Are You Getting Any Sunshine ?   (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert  - 2:40   rating: ** stars

Hum, with a pseudo-Vaudevillian flavor 'Are You Getting Any Sunshine?' was clearly intended for maximum top-40 exposure.  About all I can say is 'the tune came off as far too clever for Christie's own good.  This sounded like something that would have been featured on the Sonny and Cher television show.   YouTube has a hysterical black and white promotional clip of Christie performing the song around a motel:  Christie and company didn't look too comfortable dancing on the high diving board.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3FwXQ3L7-A   Buddah tapped it as a single.

2.) Wonderful Dream   (N. Margulies) - 2:52   rating: ** stars

Ouch, painful all the way around ...  bad doo wop-influenced tune with Christie spending way too much time in his irritating falsetto.   

3.)  It'll Take Time   (Stan Vincent) - 2:53    rating: **** stars

One of two Stan Vincent penned tunes, 'It'll Take Time' was a nice blue-eyed soul number with some strange lyrics "on a little white card they just declared me insane" ...   it was still one of the album highlights.    

4.) She Sold Me Magic    (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:08    rating: **** stars

'She Sold me Magic' had a great bubblegum pop melody that was near perfect for top-40 AM radio play.   Somehow the combination of Christie's shrill falsetto and the chirping backing singers worked exceptionally well on this one.   Another track tapped as a single.   YouTube has a clip of Christie lip synching the tune for Dutch television: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsPa1XlrfzY    

5.) I'm Gonna Make You Mine   (Tony Romeo) - 2:40    rating: **** stars

Okay, even if you're not a big Lou Christie fan, you have to admit that his cover of Tony Romeo's "I'm Gonne Make You Mine' was a classic slice of late-'60s pop.  Released as a single, it also served as one of his biggest hits.   YouTube has an entertaining black and white promotional clip for the tune.  Looks like it was filmed in Europe though the junkyard location has always puzzled me:   Not exactly the most romantic setting.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLemdORSx_E      


(side 2)
1.) Down When It's Up - Up When It's Down   (Don Ciccone) - 2:40 
  rating: *** stars

Sappy, sappy, sappy, extremely bubblegum-ish and yet somehow endearing with Christie turning in a wonderful vocal, complete with those instantly recognizable higher registers. 

2.) Mickey's Monkey   (Eddie Holland - Lamont Dozier - Brian Holland) - 2:52    rating: *** stars

I've always wondered why Christie's cover of 'Mickey's Monkey'  was smothered with horrible after-the-fact audience sounds.  Hard to imagine anyone would have ever mistaken this for a true live performance.   Shame about the irritating audience noise since Christie's cover was actually quite good, even though it didn't really deviate from the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles original arrangement.     

3.) The Thought of Losing You   (D. White) - 2:25   rating: ** stars

The band Crystal Mansion almost scored a hit with this one.  Christie's version was an equally forgettable MOR-ish ballad that would have made your grandmother happy.  Kind of a Vegas club vibe on this one.  

4.) Generation (Stan Vincent) - 2:14    rating: **** stars

'Generation' was clearly an attempt to strike a chord with a younger, hipper audience.  unfortunately  It must have already sounded dated in 1969.  To my ears it sounded like something written for a Coke, or Ford commercial jingle.  Extra star for Christie's strange vocal performance on this one.

5.) I'm Gonna Get Married    (Lou Christie -Twyla Herbert) - 3:30   rating: ** stars

Lots of folks think this is one of Christie's best performances.   I've always wondered it the arrangement was supposed to give the tune a Beach Boys feel, but I'll tell you the overall effect was a bland and overly sentimental tune that sounded like something Paul Anka, or Frankie Valli would have recorded. 


The album spun off a series of international singles, with four US 45s:

- 1969's 'I'm Gonna Make You Mine' b/w 'I'm Gonna Get Married' (Buddah catalog number BDA-116)  # 10 pop

- 1969's 'Are You Getting Any Sunshine?' b/w 'It'll Take Time' (Buddah catalog number BDA-146)  # 73 pop

- 1969's 'She Sold Me Magic' b/w 'Love Is Over' (Buddah catalog number BDA-163)

- 1971's 'Mickey's Monkey' b/w 'She Sold Me Magic' (Buddah catalog number BDA 257



At the time I'm writing this (2014), Christie is still performing.  He has a small website at: http://www.lou-christie.com/







Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Paint America Love

Company: Buddah

Catalog: BDS-5073

Country/State: Glenwillard, Pennsylvania

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; bullet hole top right

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $20.00


Curiously, unlike the previous six studio albums, 1971's "Paint America Love" was credited under the artist's birth name - Lou Christie Sacco.  Not sure what the intention was - perhaps an effort to signal a new creative start?  Co-produced by Christie and Tony Romeo, the album was apparently intended to be a concept piece highlighting everyday life in this country.  Musically the collection had an odd, split-personality.  Seven of the nine selections found Christie sharing co-writing credits with longtime collaborator Twyla Herbert.  The songs seemingly explored a mix of autobiographical memories of an idealized childhood ('Chuckie Wagon'), daily life for the masses ('Best Way To See America') and activist aspects of early-'70s American life (the title track).  Admittedly the plotline wasn't particularly obvious to my ears and I could be way off base with respect to those speculations.  Still Christie's voice remained lovely throughout.  Elsewhere compositions like 'Chuckie Wagon' and the pro-ecology 'Paper Song' had a commercial, almost bubblegummy feel.  I'm a big fan of the genre (something the Buddah label did well), so I have no problems those tracks.  In fact I think they provide two of the album highlights.



As some fans would have you believe, is this collection Christie's forgotten masterpiece?  Nah.  It's certainly a curiosity and worth a spin, but for most folks it won't be a life altering experience.





"Paint America Love" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Wood Child (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 4:36 rating: ** stars

The discordant keyboard opening (Herbert?), made me wonder what was going on.  Certainly not what I was expecting from a Lou Christie album.  Luckily, when it kicked in you found Christie's unique voice remained instantly recognizable.   Shame I found the ballad 'Wood Child' to be overblown, highly orchestrated, and a kind of bland and forgettable ballad.  The song picked up speed during the second half, but how often did you have to endure hearing the refrain "take your ticket and get on this boat"?

2.) Paper Song (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 3:40 rating: **** stars

Signed to Buddah it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise that parts of the album included a distinctive bubblegum/power pop flavor.  Certainly the case for 'Paper Song', though I'd give the track an extra star for Christie and co-writer Twyla Herbert adding a distinctive ecology message to the lyrics. 

3.) Best Way To See America (Tony Romeo) - 3:00  rating: ** stars

The ballad 'Best Way To See America' found Christie sharing vocals with co-writer Herbert.  A slow, heavily orchestrated and rather sappy tune, this one improved a bit on the choruses, but just never launched.

4.) Chuckie Wagon (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 2:56 rating: **** stars    

Ah, Americana set to a bubblegum beat ...  Nobody was listening, but had they been they might have recognized this was one of the album's most commercial tunes.  Christie's brother Pete Sacco added some information about the song to a YouTube clip of the song: "This song was written by my brother about when he and his friend Chucky Walker we're children on spring run road, they built a little wagon and would ride it down the road towards the Ohio River, there is a nod to my father the"wine soldier on the rocks", one of the many towns along the River was Aliquippa who was named after a female Indian leader who met with George Washington to help secure peace in the area. Gawd only knows why, but the tune was released as a Japanese single:





- 1972's 'Chuckie Wagon' b/w 'Waco' (Buddah catalog number LL-2505-DA) 








(side 2)
Waco (Tony Romeo) - 3:25 rating: **** stars

The second Romeo composition and one of the most commercial efforts, the  winsome harmonica opening has always reminded me of something off of a Paddy McAloon and Prefab Sprout album.    Released as a promotional single the track was quickly banned by the few stations that even considered playing it.  Seen as a reference ot marijuana, the lyric "you've got six more brownies left till you get to Ontario" raised censors' hackles who promptly banned it from airplay.





- 1971's 'Waco' b/w 'Waco' (Buddah BDA-231)






2.) Campus Rest (instrumental)  (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 3:32 rating: ** stars

Previously released as the "B" side to the earlier 'Saints of Aquarius' single, the orchestrated instrumental 'Campus Rest' was pretty, but could have been used as the soundtrack for an AVIS car rental commercial.  The liner notes credited the performance to "Twyla and the Moon Township Strings."

3.) Lighthouse (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 3:41  rating: *** stars

Starting out as another pretty ballad, 'Lighthouse' quickly picked up speed and energy, injecting some unexpectedly activist lyrics.  I've seen comments to the effect this was a re-write of the 1966 composition 'Painter'.  If so, it's largely lost on my ears.  The track was released as a German single:





- 1971's 'Lighthouse' b/w 'Waco' (Buddah catalog number 2011 074)









4.) Look Out the Window (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 4:46  rating: *** stars

The first half of 'Look Out the Window' found Christie going over the top in terms of seriousness and pretentiousness - Jaques Brel territory this time out.  The second half found Christie shifting the melody into funkier territory and saved the song from the dustbin..

5.) Paint America Love (Lou Christie - Twyla Herbert) - 5:29  rating: *** stars

As a child of the '70s I can only smile at the hopelessly optimistic title ...  As much as the lyrics make me smile, musically this one couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to do, bouncing between AM pop fodder, big band and even jazzy influences.  It was interesting to hear Christie singing in lower keys.