Severn has unearthed a lost treasure with the release of The Memphis/El Paso Sessions. Lou Pride has been a strong voice on the soul/blues scene for many years, yet many of the recordings included here have never been released. Seven of the thirteen tracks were recorded on Suemi Records in El Paso, TX, by Kenny Smith who started his own label and studio with engineer Bill Taylor. This record is a treat for those new to soul music or for anyone who thought they had heard all there is to hear from one of the great eras of American music.

Check out Lou’s other titles on Severn Records: Words of Caution; Keep On Believing; and Ain’t No More Love In This House.


“One day I was in a restaurant in El Paso, and a friend of mine named Kenny Smith walked in and said ‘Hey man I’ve got a little studio now,’ and that’s when the bug really bit me.” As it turns out, Kenny and his partner Bill Taylor Sparks also had a record label called Suemi Records. Lou’s first record for Suemi, There’s Got to Be Someone for Me was actually credited to the Groove Merchants. After the confusion was sorted, his second single, “I’m Com’un Home in the Morn’un” was issued. This single has become so big on the UK’s northern soul scene that Kev Roberts’s Northern Soul Top 500 book places it in the #77 slot with a current value of 1,000 pounds for an original 45. Lou had only subsequently learned of its popularity and the possibility it had been bootlegged for UK release: “I found out later that the record was big over there,” claims Lou. He also explained the origin of the song: “I had left Chicago and I came back to El Paso. I had a girlfriend and she said ‘I’m so very lonely I wish you would come back.’ I talked to her that night and I got up and I wrote that song. I think it took about twenty minutes.”

Lou’s next sides for Suemi were “Your Love Is Fading,’ issued with alternative b-sides, “Lonely Room” and a funky version of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” “I was on my way to Memphis because Bill Taylor’s uncle owned a record distributorship there called Hot Line Records and ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ popped into my mind. There’s a story behind ‘Lonely Room’ too. I was living at the YMCA in El Paso by myself and I said to myself ‘this sure is a lonely room.'”

These releases carried the address of Willie Mitchell’s famous Royal recording studios in Memphis. “Bill got hooked up with Willie through his uncle and that’s how I got to record there. I did about five or six songs down there at Hi. I was very fortunate to be able to use the Hi recording band–Leroy, Teenie, and Charlie Hodges, and Howard Grimes–because Willie was so protective of his sound. Willie did agree to let them play with me and that was so very important. Willie would allow me to sit up in the booth while he was doing things. And that’s kind of. . . when you hear my music now, you kind of hear that Hi flavor. He would look at me and say ‘Did you get that?’ I was able to build on that.”

After the Suemi sides, Lou’s recordings came out on a variety of labels, although retaining the Hi connection, the first being “Look Out Love,” penned by Bill Taylor and Don Bryant and issued on the Albatross label, followed by “We’re Only Fooling Ourselves,” backed with “Phoney People,” for Gemco. “I cut that at Hi records too,” said Lou of “Phoney People.” “I was still living in Texas and I was going back and forth to Memphis, and the thing about it is that people are always promising you they’ll do things and then say ‘well I can’t do it now.’ I just said one day, ‘these people are phoney’ and I sat down and I wrote it.”

Excerpt from an interview with Lou Pride on August 3, 2001, for In The Basement magazine. Acknowledgments to Steve Guarnori, Alex James, and all at Soul 24-7,


Lead vocals, all tracks: Lou Pride
Organ: Charles Hodges
Drums: Howard Grimes
Horn and String Sections: The Memphis Horns and The Memphis Strings
Background vocals: Sandra Rhodes, Charlie Chalmers, Donna Rhodes

Tracks 1, 2, and 4
Bass: Kenny Smith
Drums: Barry Davis
Guitar: Jack Woodberry

Tracks 9, 11, 12 , and 13
Personnel unknown

Tracks 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10
James Mitchell
Guitar: Teenie Hodges
Bass: Leroy Hodges


Original sessions produced by Kenny Smith and Bill Taylor Sparks
Digitally remastered by Charlie Pilzer at Airshow Mastering, Springfield, VA
Graphic design by David Earl and Steve Potter at Severn Art, Crownsville, MD
Produced for reissue by David Earl, Steve Gomes, Charlie Pilzer, Lou Pride, Kenny Smith and Bill Taylor Sparks

Severn CD0022