Personnel: Dennis Harris , David T. Walker, Dennis Kilman, Herb Ellis, Irving Ashby, Larry Carlton, Norman Harris, Ray Crawford, Ray Parker, Jr., Rene Hall, Roland Chambers, Barney Kessel, Anthony Bell, William Butler, Bobby Eli, Gene Edwards, Bucky Pizzarelli, Cecil Womack (guitar); Curtis Amy, Louis Ciotti, David "Fathead" Newman , Teddy Edwards Octet, Alexander Nelson, Jack Nimitz, Sid Miller, Sam Reed, Jay Migliori, Jim Horn, Joe Maini, Sonny Criss (saxophone); Bob Rolfe, Dalton Smith, Fred Hill, George Graham, Walter Williams , Tony Terran, Bobby Bryant , Bud Brisbois (trumpet); Charles Wilson, Ron Smith, Horace Tapscott, Joey Vasquez, Lou Blackburn, Bob Knight, Lester Robertson (trombone); Leon Huff (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards, background vocals); Joe Sample (piano, organ); Gerald Wiggins, Tommy Strode (piano); Lenny Pakula, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Shirley Scott (organ); Thom Bell (keyboards, background vocals); Dexter Wansel, Edward Green, Jerry Cohen, Randy Waldman, Ron Kersey, Tommy Flanagan, Victor Carstarphen (keyboards); Vince Montana (vibraphone); Leroy Henderson, Karl Chambers, Keith Benson, Earl Palmer , Earl Young, Frank Butler, Gene Pello, Grady Tate, Quinton Joseph, Steve Turner , Charles Harris, Charlie Collins (drums); David Cruse, Larry Washington (congas, bongos, hand claps, percussion); Joe Porcaro (percussion); Evette Benton, Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson, Deborah Morris, Althea Rogers, Carl Helm, Cindy Jordan, Joseph B. Jefferson, Kenny Gamble (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Michael Hutchinson; Jerry Block; Dexter Wansel; Dirk Devlin; Frank Luria; Paul Martin; Bruce Bluesteen; Wayne Wilfong; Carl Paroulo; Jeffrey Stewart; Bill Dorman; Jim Dougherty; Quinton Joseph; Darrell Rogers; Vince Warsavage; Scott McMinn; Jay Mark; Jim Gallagher; Joe Tarsia; Mike Tarsia; Peter Humphreys; Rocky Schnaars; Arthur Stoppe; Bruce Springsteen; Carla Bandini.
Liner Note Author: William C. Rhoden.
Recording information: Capitol studios, Los Angeles, CA; Mark Hellinger Theatre, NY; Record Plant, Hollywood, CA; Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, PA; the Hit Factory, NY.
Authors: Kenny Gamble; Leon Huff .
Photographers: Alen MacWeeney; Peter Karas.
Arrangers: David Axelrod ; Denny Gore; Hidle Brown Barnum; Bobby Martin ; Jack Faith; Leon Pendarvis; Onzy Matthews; Tom Sellers; Thom Bell.
Alongside the Right Stuff's two-disc ANTHOLOGY compilation, ESSENTIAL is one of the best Lou Rawls collections on the market, arguably besting that set with its song selection, sequencing, and overall presentation. Rawls's genius was in his blending of blues, jazz, and pop, and that genius shines through on all 37 tracks here.
Whether it's the Philly Soul smoothness of latter-period Rawls (the collection kicks off with "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," one of his most successful singles), or the rawer, bluesier fare of his early career ("Tobacco Road"), the many faces of Lou Rawls are assembled here with care. Even given his many stylistic shifts, the set hangs together beautifully, thanks almost entirely to the man's inimitable, elegant singing.