Ever since I posted about Lewis’ lost classic, L’Amour, three years ago, I’ve received several emails from record labels (of varying sizes) asking if I knew where or who Lewis is. I wish I knew — but I don’t think anyone does. I stumbled across Lewis’ music initially on music forum Hipinion a few years ago, and upon hearing the gorgeous L’Amour I quickly posted a gushing review. Rightfully, since the initial exposure on music blogs and forums, L’Amour has developed a cult following. His haunting sound, which I wrote sounds like Springsteen’s Nebraska crossed with an Angelo Badalamenti score (with a Parisian touch), is guaranteed to make a memorable impression.
Now, a brand new Lewis album has surfaced, entitled Romantic Times. A vinyl copy was posted on eBay a few days ago, and it’s currently approaching $2000. To many, even huge fans of L’Amour, news of this album was a complete surprise. It was to me, at least. The current owner of the vinyl then posted some snippets from the album on SoundCloud, which sounded distinctively like Lewis, but with a fuller-bodied, synth-incorporated sound (synths and saxophones play a prominent role on the album, for sure). A day later, record label Light In the Attic made Romantic Times available in full to download and purchase.
The vinyl owner had this to say about Light In the Attic on Hipinion:
When I first dug the record out a month and a half ago the first thing I did was contact LITA and Aaron Levin. They confirmed that they knew about the LP but never confirmed they had a physical copy of it. I thought maybe they had a copy from the masters. They said they were going to announce the existence of it when L’amour was released. I offered them the LP for a $200-$300 record in exchange. Although it’s obvious they wanted it nobody really piped up for an exchange. I even emailed weekly to see “what’s up with the record”? After not really hearing anything from them and seeing L’amour got released I sent them an email saying I was gonna post romantic times on ebay. Never heard anything back so the next day I posted it. About 6 hours later LITA emailed me asking me not to post it because they weren’t ready yet and were still a way’s away from the announcement…….and voila
On to the actual music, the Lewis Baloue-credited Romantic Times is once again a stunning release from Lewis. From the haunting sax accompaniments in side-openers “We Danced All Night” and “So Be in Love with Me” to the playful synth-pop sophistication of “Bringing You a Rose”, Romantic Times shows Lewis’ warm embracing voice over an expanded stylistic arsenal, allowing his voice to stretch more fully than on L’Amour with heavier emphasis on orchestral additives and synthesizers. Moments of sparse acoustic beauty are still there, but overall this is an equal-in-quality example of stylistic exploration for the mysterious Lewis.
Lewis’ identity remains unknown, but it’s possible that he is the performer “Randy Duke” at 0:49 in the clip below, since the studio was involved with Lewis’ material:
Various articles have tried to dig into Lewis’ past, mostly coming up with that Lewis’ real name is Randall Wulff, and the information below (source):
Wulff’s nephew Jeremy did talk. He remembers summer visits to Calgary, Canada, where his Uncle Randy was said to be scoring big deals in the stock market, which seemed likely to young Jeremy given his uncle’s lifestyle: white-leather furniture in his apartment, always in possession of a hot car and a hot girlfriend. Jeremy led Fleischer to Len Osanic, a Vancouver, Canada, sound engineer who says Wulff has, under yet another pseudonym, done three or four albums of “soft religious music” since L’Amour. During his time in the studio, Osanic recalls, Wulff regaled him with tales of growing up in Hawaii near the woman Wulff claims to be his aunt, Doris Duke.
Could Lewis be Randy Duke? Is Randy Duke also Randy Wulff? Randall Aldon Wulff? It’s hard to figure out. Hopefully he’s somewhere in Hawaii with dozens of other unreleased records waiting to see the light of day, and will eventually see the glowing reception online. For now, it’s easy to just enjoy the greatness that is Romantic Times.