Louie And The Lovers “Rise”


A lost and found story. Louie and the Lovers from Salinas, California put out this one record, discovered and produced by the legendary Doug Sahm during his exile from Texas; it barely sold. But Rise was such a strong album, a startling blend of the San Francisco sound, Chicano music, and Tex-Mex country rock, it became an easy target for collectors. Rarer, however, was the fabled follow-up album, lost in a fire save for one cassette and unreleased until Bear Family’s recent offering, Louie and the Lovers, The Complete Recordings.

For a bunch of teenagers recording their first album in one 18-hour session, Rise is a surprisingly solid set of tunes, with a sound as fresh as any of their west coast contemporaries, consistently fine song craft (9 of 11 tracks penned by Louie Ortega), and fantastic vocal performances throughout. You can hear the Lovers’ innocent enthusiasm chiming through electric rhythm guitars and the band’s raw energy is infectious. The Lovers were admittedly influenced by CCR, an unavoidable comparison, but Louie also name checks Webb Pierce, Lefty Frizzell, and Jorge Negrete as early influences on his songwriting.

Rise starts with a bang, the eponymous lead-off track taking off with guitar hook assaults and soaring vocal harmonies. The album’s slower numbers are some of the record’s best: “I’ve Always Got You On My Mind” is a serious earworm and “Driver Go Slow” is a sparse and haunting murder ballad. Upbeat rockers like “Royal Oakie” and “I Know You Know” should have been radio hits, at least in Texas. The album is a powerful grower, its melodies sinking in deep after a few listens, but unfortunately Rise was destined for obscurity.

Regardless of the lack of sales, The Lovers were given another shot at recording an album, this time featuring production from Doug Sahm, Jerry Wexler, and Tom Dowd, along with help from new guitarist John Rendon, steel guitarist Charlie Owens, horn player David ‘Fathead’ Newman, Dr. John on keys, percussionist Joe Lala, and Flaco Jimenez on Conjunto accordion. The selections were more diverse, from Mexican traditionals to sunshine pop and Memphis-powered blues jams (probably Sahm’s ever present musical schizophrenia peeking through). Perhaps the magic from the original sessions had faded, but these tracks are a pleasure to finally hear, with some certain gems in the mix, included in a fine package with excellent liners.

For fans of Tex-Mex and the Sir Douglas Quintet this release is a long-awaited treasure; no doubt essential. Louie would join Sahm’s backing band in the 80s and even perform with the Texas Tornados, most recently appearing with SDQ2 at the fundraiser concert for Doug Sahm Hill in Austin, TX. Hopefully this won’t be the last we hear from Louie Ortega, one of the great voices of Tejano music.

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“I Know You Know”

:D CD Reissue | 2003 | Acadia | amazon ]

:) Original Vinyl | 1970| Epic | ebay ]

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  • Peter Xeni

    Hello there,
    I’ve just discovered your site and think it’s wonderfully presented. I’ve been collecting records since 1959 as a young lad. I ask that you consider reviewing Jim and Jennie and the Pinetops (first two albums (3rd is much weaker). They’re both modern classics in the early bluegrass style with stunningly original songs and unique sounding harmonies – definitely not revivalists, but we who love the Stanley Bros. and Bill Monroe think they’re grossly unheralded. Cheers, Peter

  • Eugene

    Now everyone is talking about the American economy and eclections, nice to read something different. Eugene

  • butcher pete

    I just found this on a Norwegian site. Can’t locate anything else about this (pending?) release.

    Louie and The Lovers – »The Complete Recordings«

    *The definite Louie & The Lovers anthology.
    *Includes the mythical, but never before released second album.
    *Contains all non-album single tracks plus previously unreleased outtakes.
    *Compiled with co-operation from Louie Ortega himself.
    *Extensive liner notes telling the full story.
    *Luxury Digipak® lavishly illustrated with previously unpublished photos.
    *Produced by Doug Sahm (+ Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, Glen Kolotkin)
    *A tex-mex/chicano-rock masterpiece!

    In 1970, Louie and The Lovers released the album »Rise«. It didn’t sell at the time, but has been treasured among music lovers ever since. Produced by legendary Texan roots rocker Doug Sahm, the young band (every member was yet to turn twenty) came across like a Chicano Credence Clearwater Revival infused with a pinch of tex-mex Big Star.

    Album opener »Rise« is blistering power-pop dressed up in heavenly vocal harmonies and guitar hooks galore while »I’ve Always Got You On My Mind« and »I Just Met You« are soulful ballads, endlessly and timelessly beautiful. »Royal Oakie« is rough, lose happy-go-lucky roots rock. Whatever the reason was that the 45rpm single »Driver Go Slow« didn’t chart is now hard to understand. No wonder Peter Buck (of R.E.M.-fame) is a huge fan of Louie and The Lovers.

    This CD expands the original »Rise« with non-album single tracks, session outtakes and most sensational; an entire, previously unreleased second Louie and The Lovers album!

    This Bear Family anthology was produced in co-operation with Louie Ortega himself. Our main man reveals the full story of his band in the pages of the extensive cd-booklet and deep inside Ortega’s private wardrobe we detected scrap book pictures documenting Louie and The Lovers in full force during a recording session.

    All in all, this is the definite Louie and The Lovers record.


  • Sven Tall

    Regarding the “Louie and The Lovers – The Complete Recordings”. It’s released by Bear Family Records in Germany:


    I had never heard of the band or the recordings until I saw the CD and understood that I would like it. And I do!

  • Bo

    Rise is an incredible recording that everyone will enjoy! I have ordered several copies of the reissue CD for gifts for my friends that I know will appreciate their great music!

  • Paul Murray

    I own Zitas Rock Solid Recording Studios, and at the present time 7 15 2012, I have the pleasure of Louie and the Lovers putting the band back together after close to 35 years of going their own ways and playing with different bands. The band has had a chance to re unite and they sound as great as always with great vocals, and guitar work, and the bass and keys are as strong as ever!! Get ready for a cd to be released within the next 3 to 4 months!! Welcome back guys,

  • Aaron Braga

    2016 and still rockin!

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