Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Red Hot Mama
Okay, right off the bat, let me acknowledge that today's record is beat to hell, and that you'll have to listen past some righteously awful surface noise. But c'mon, it's Norm! With a couple of winning tracks, ones I find quite worthy of suffering through the crackle and pop of an either over-loved or criminally mistreated and neglected 45.
First up, "Red Hot Mama". This one has slow, soulful beat, some really nice piano, and a typically wonderful vocal from Norm. There's even an actual guitar solo, something I don't remember hearing on many Sterling records. And another thing that makes this one unusual: I would also argue that this is the rare Sterling song-poem where the music reflects then-current (1971 or so) trends in music - elements of the backing track here reminds me of more than a few soul-pop records of the 1970-71 period. Stick around for the ridiculous repeating lyrics at the end of the record.
On to side two, "Love Ya Honey". After a catchy, off-kilter instrumental introduction, we are treated to another superb vocal from Norm (who is probably one of my two favorite song-poem singers, along with Cara Stewart). Here, he makes magic with a really corny and repetitive lyric, and the arrangement also works wonders with what could have easily (in the hands of lesser companies by a stale performers) been rote and dull - I'm especially fond of the section from 1:50 to 2:05, where it sure sounds like there's been an extra beat or two thrown in, yet a careful counting shows that it never goes out of 4/4 time.