Mystery and conjecture surrounded Lewis and his 1983 album L’Amour which was recently rereleased by Light In The Attic Records. Most of the mystery surrounds Lewis. Nobody really knew who he was. Lewis called himself Randall Wulff. However, thirty-one years later, conjecture still surrounded whether that was Lewis true identity.
All that’s known is Randall arrived in Los Angeles in 1983. Sporting perfectly coiffured blonde hair and movie star looks, He lived the playboy lifestyle. Randall drove a white convertible Mercedes and booked into the Beverley Hilton. That’s where he stayed during the recording of L’Amour. When not recording L’Amour, Randall dated a string of beautiful women. Models and movie stars accompanied Lewis to the smartest parties in Los Angeles. During the recording of L’Amour Randall lived the playboy lifestyle. Wine, women and song were constant companions for Randall. However, before long, the party was over.
Having recording the ten tracks that became L’Amour, Randall started planning for the release of his debut album. He’d decided it would be called L’Amour. Rather than using his own name, Randall used the alias Lewis. This added to the air of mystery. So did the album cover.
For the album cover, Randall called one of the most famous photographers in music, Ed Colver. He’d made his name photographing punk bands. That was the past. By 1983, Ed was expanding his musical portfolio. So when Randall called, Ed agreed to meet him in the Beverley Hilton.
When the two met, Ed wasn’t suspicious of Randall. Why should he be? After all, Randall was living in the Beverley Hilton, driving a Mercedes convertible and had a beautiful, model girlfriend. He’d also just recorded his debut album and was looking for someone to shoot some photographs for the cover of L’Amour. That would be Ed. Randall agreed to pay Ed $250 for the photo shoot and wrote a cheque for $250.
Ed shot thirty different versions of the photo that agreed on the cover of L’Amour. It was a head and shoulders photo of Randall. That photo epitomises eighties fashion and attitudes. Looking like the atypical eighties playboy, Randall looks mysteriously into the distance. However, just like everything else about Randall, this was all a facade.
When Ed went to cash the cheque for $250 it bounced. The cheque had been drawn on an account in Malibu. This was no help to Ed. So he headed to where Ed had met Randall, the Beverley Hilton. Staff at the Beverley Hilton told Ed that Randall had left. Randall, they told him, had headed to Las Vegas and then Hawaii. They didn’t have a forwarding address. For Ed this was a disaster. $250 was lot of money. So much, it took him four months to repay his bank. As security, Ed held on to the negatives to the photos for L’Amour, which was released in 1983.
L’Amour featured ten tracks. They were all written by Randall Wulff, under his Lewis alas. Lewis also played guitar, piano and sang all the vocals. The only other musician who played on L’Amour was Phillip Lees, who played synths. L’Amour was produced and distributed by R.A.W. Productions, which was a company owned by Randall A. Wulff. Recording took place at the Fiasco Brothers Recording Studios in Vancouver. This would later provide a clue to the identity of the mysterious Lewis, who released L’Amour in 1983.
The wistful I Thought the World of You opens L’Amour. Straight away, it’s apparent that Lewis is a troubled troubadour. His vocal is rueful, full of hurt and heartache. The minimalist arrangement is a perfect foil for Lewis pensive vocal. Just a piano and synth strings combine to create an arrangement that’s reminiscent of The Blue Nile and The Bathers. Just like Paul Buchanan and Chris Thompson, Lewis delivers lyrics like he’s loved, lived and survived them.
Cool Night in Paris sounds as if it was recorded in Paris’ South Bank. Lewis plucks at an acoustic guitar while playing the role of seducer-in-chief. Just washes of synths join Lewis’ trusty acoustic guitar. They create an understated backdrop for his sultry vocal and during this seductive paean.
Just a lone plucked guitar and lush synths strings accompany Lewis on My Whole Life. Here, Lewis showcases his own unique vocal style. He seems to have drawn inspiration from Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. His vocal is best described as charismatic and lived in. It’s also tender, needy and heartfelt as he delivers the lyrics as if he means every word.
Even Rainbows Turn Blue has a melancholy, wistful sound. That’s down to Lewis’ thoughtfully plucked guitar and the swathes of synth strings. They sweep in, adding to the wistfulness. You await Lewis’ vocal. However, it never comes. Instead, you wallow in the ethereal beauty of this wistful instrumental.
Straight away, it’s obvious that Like to See You Again is one of L’Amour’s highlights. That’s obvious from the slow, pensive piano that opens the track. It’s joined by synth strings. They sweep in, setting the scene for Lewis’ needy, pleading vocal. Lovestruck, he sings “I’d Like to See You Again, we’ll get a train somewhere.” His vocal is tender, emotive and oozes emotion. Synth string and piano provide the perfect accompaniment and then replacement to Lewis vocal. When his vocal returns, it’s the equivalent to a cathartic outpouring of need, hope and love.
A piano is joined by swathes of synths on Things Just Happen That Way. The arrangement veers between understated, dramatic and heartbreaking. Stabs of piano add drama and emotion before Lewis’ tender, rueful vocal enters. Straight away, memories come flooding back. He remembers the woman who stole his heart. His vocal becomes a confessional. Space has been left within the arrangement. It adds to the emotion and drama. Later, Lewis almost has to force himself to remember memories he’d sooner forget. This includes the woman who stole and broke his heart. QuIte simply, this is one of the most beautiful and moving love songs you’ll ever hear.
Tenderly and thoughtfully, Lewis plays the piano on Summer Moon. Synth strings sweep in. By then, Lewis is playing with a freedom. Flamboyantly, he unleashes flourishes of dramatic music. It’s the perfect foil to the synths. Traditional and electronic instruments go toe-to-toe. The natural beauty of the piano surpasses the synthetic sound of the synths on an poignant instrumental inspired by ambient, classical and electronica.
The arrangement to Let’s Fall in Love Tonight sweeps in. A pensive piano leads the way before synths sweep in. They set the scene for Lewis’ tender, breathy, seductive vocal. It drifts in and out of the arrangement, which later, takes on a jazz-tinged sound. That’s down to Lewis’ vocal and the piano. They’re at the heart of the song’s sound and success, while the cascading synths replicate the merry-go-round love is for Lewis.
From just a lone piano, the arrangement to Love Showered Me takes on a futuristic, sci-fi sound. Bubbling synths are responsible for this. They add an atmospheric, dramatic sound. This is very different to Lewis’ tender, thoughtful vocal. Accompanied by the piano and sci-fi synths Lewis becomes the lovelorn, troubled troubadour. He plays the role beautifully, as if having lived and experienced what he’s singing about.
Originally, Romance for Two closes L’Amour was dedicated to the model Christine Brinkley. What follows is a heartfelt love song. A tenderly plucked acoustic guitar is joined by swathes of synth strings. They provide an ethereal backdrop for Lewis’ needy, lovestruck vocal on what’s easily one Lewis’ most beautiful songs.
So that’s the story of the music on Lewis’ debut album L’Amour. It featured ten songs lasting thirty-seven minutes. These songs are variously beautiful, ethereal, minimalist, poignant and powerful. Lewis sings about heartbreak, hope and hurt. He delivers lyrics like he’s lived, loved and survived them. His vocal ranges from emotive, hopeful, needy and seductive. Other times his vocal is rueful, as he sings about love lost and the woman who broke or stole his heart. Accompanying him are arrangements that are mostly minimalist.
Despite the minimalist nature of the arrangements, they’re hugely effective. They’re the perfect backdrop for Lewis vocal, framing them perfectly. They never overpower Lewis’ vocal. Mostly, it’s just synths, guitar and piano that accompany Lewis on L’Amour. That’s all that required. Anything else and Lewis’ vocal would be overpowered. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen on Light In The Attics recent rerelease of L’Amour. It’s a welcome release of a cult album and solves one of modern music’s mystery.
Jack D. Fleischer was writing the sleeve-notes to L’Amour when he got a phone call from a friend and another long time fan of L’Amour, Markus Armstrong. He was on way to solving the mystery of Lewis’ identity.
Recently, Markus Armstrong discovered several copies of L’Amour for sale in Alberta, Canada.This was unusual, as copies of L’Amour are a rarity. So, Markus decided to start looking for Lewis’ identity in Alberta. Then Markus remembered that L’Amour was a private pressing. Usually, private pressings were recorded locally. In the case of L’Amour, it was recorded at Fiasco Brothers Recording Studios in Vancouver. So possibly, Lewis or Randall Wulff, as he called himself back in 1983, was a Canadian?
Soon, Markus was looking for anyone with a similar name. He checked everywhere he could think of. This included phonebooks. It was a long-shot, but one that paid off.
Before long, Markus was contacted by Randall Wulff,’s nephew. He was able to throw some light on who Randall Wulff was. He was the nephew of heiress of Doris Duke. She was heir to the Duke Power fortune and a legendary philanthropist. Growing up, Ralph lived with his Aunt Doris in Hawaii. However, the nom de plume Lewis, was a reference to his grandmother. At last, thirty-one years after the mystery began, Lewis had been unmasked.
No longer does mystery and conjecture surround Lewis 1983 debut album L’Amour, which was recently rereleased by Light In The Attic Records. L’Amour is without doubt, one of the finest private pressings I’ve ever heard. Light In The Attic Records are to be praised for making Lewis’ debut album L’Amour available. They should also be congratulated for solving the mystery behind Lewis, the man who released L’Amour in 1983 was. Belatedly, one of music’s mysteries has been solved.
- Posted in: Electronic ♦ Pop ♦ Rock
- Tagged: Jack D. Fleischer, L’Amour, Lewis, Light In The Attic Records, Markus Armstrong, Randall Wulff
Great, great review!
How the hell did you get this info btw?
”Before long, Markus was contacted by Randall Wulff,’s nephew. He was able to throw some light on who Randall Wuiff was. He was the nephew of heiress of Doris Duke. She was heir to the Duke Power fortune and a legendary philanthropist. Growing up, Ralph lived with his Aunt Doris in Hawaii. However, the nom de plume Lewis, was a reference to his grandmother. At last, thirty-one years after the mystery began, Lewis had been unmasked.”
I lived with this guy for approx 2 years between 1976 and 1978 and he is not related to Doris Duke. I lived with him in his parents house in Alberta for a winter, then we went to Maui for a month or so before moving to Victoria, BC., where we split up after a year or so.