Lesley Rae Dowling’s debut album from 1981 now available to download

Lesley Rae Dowling - Digital re-issue
Lesley Rae Dowling - Digital re-issue


  1. The Spaniard
  2. Grips Of Emotion
  3. The Raven
  4. Somethin’ Goin’ On
  5. You
  6. Young Lochnivar
  7. Mama’s Leaving
  8. Oh, My Love
  9. Morocco
  10. Lady
  11. Sophistication

Release information:

1981, Warner Brothers Records, WBC 9020
2006, Fresh Music, freshcd149 (2LPs on 1 CD, with Unravished Brides)
2011, Next Music, digital re-issue

Review from SA Rock Digest #94, February 2001

The little lady with the big voice seemed to come out of nowhere, bursting on the radio in late 1981 with the powerful ‘Grips of Emotion’. The strength of this debut single meant that the album was one of the most eagerly anticipated on the local scene for a while. The final product simply entitled ‘Lesley Rae Dowling’ did not disappoint.

Masterfully produced by none other than Tully McCully, the album offered up 10 further tracks of the sultry, sexy rock that had made ‘Grips..’ so exciting. Dowling’s strong alto tones entwine themselves around the tight guitar playing of McCully, jostle for attention next to some slick guitar solo’s from the omnipresent Jethro Butow, or weave there way around her own well crafted keyboard playing.

She’s angry and seductive, reflective and mystical. She sings of the exotic (‘The Spaniard’ & ‘Morroco’) of the gothic (‘The Raven’) and the erotic (‘Grips of Emotion’). At times the album so sexually charged the album is almost a substitute for foreplay, yet she was somewhat of a recluse, seeming to shy away from public life. This was at odds with the strength of her voice and the upfrontness of her songs.

This must rank as one of the best debut albums by a South African artist, strong gutsy vocals coiled around a tightly produced backdrop of hard edged rock guitar and piano. The album is summed up in the title of the bluesy final track ‘Sophistication’.

John Samson, February 2001

Available to download from Rhythm Music Store

More info on the SA Rock Encyclopedia

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