It's impossible to listen to John Lennon without hearing a direct connection to Arthur Alexander — provided you know who that is. Consider pop music's Mount Rushmore: The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. The Alabama-born singer, an early country-soul practitioner who died at age 53, is the only artist to have songs covered by this ultimate quartet; one listen to Lonely Just Like Me leaves no doubt of the man's direct influence on the first two. His hits — the heartrending "Anna," Ray Charles-like "You Better Move On" and Sam Cooke-ish "Every Day I Have to Cry" — are part of the canon of popular music. The Final Chapter is 18 tracks encompassing Alexander's Lonely Just Like Me album — produced by Ben Vaughan and released shortly before his death in 1993 — plus live material from an urbane but soulful NPR "Fresh Air" performance and interview, and a handful of hush-and-listen hotel-room demos that includes a version of Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" that will stop you dead in your tracks. This is soul at its most primal and basic, a direct conduit to the Beatles and Stones.
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