Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Gettin' Cozy with Bobby Barton




 
I've got a really nice pair of songs and performances for the first post of the new year, on a label which is new to me, and by a performer who might be new to me. The label is Cozy Records, and while I have no proof that this is a song-poem label, there is a record of the same song-poet writing another song for a known song-poem label. Plus, I think it's at likely that the singer, "Bobby Barton", is the same singer who usually went by the name "Rod Barton", and who made plenty of song-poem records in his day (and who is the only person from the song-poem world that I've ever been lucky enough to talk to).
 
Both of these sides are bouncy, rockin' fun. My favorite of the two, by a hair, is the slightly oddly titled "I've Got My Baby On the String" (shouldn't that be "on a string"?). For just under two minutes, the band swings, the guitarist provides tasty flavoring, and Bobby gives the lyric the attitude it deserves.
 
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Interestingly, both of these songs seem to very much have a male perspective built into the lyrics, yet both were written by a woman.
 
The flip side, "You Gotta Quit Whistlin' At My Baby", is almost as fun. It's just a touch slower than the other song, still swinging, but with more of a bump-and-grind feel, particularly in the drums. The singer - whatever his real name - again delivers just the right attitude demanded by the lyrics.
 
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Please be sure to note the Ultra-Sonic High Fidelity of both of these tracks.

 
 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Two Heaping Mouthfuls from Rodd Keith

HOWDY!!!

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone. It is my hope, in the new year, to re-connect the songs lost in the divshare meltdown of early 2015, AND to return to posting more than three times a month. There's no telling what the new year will bring in terms of busy times and other complications, but it is my plan to do both of those things. 


It has been a surprising three months since I last featured any Rodd Keith material, surely the longest time between such posts in the history of this blog. And so I found a late-era (for him) Preview release featuring a fairly interesting song on the b-side (not so much the flip, I don't think), and also one which features not one but two ridiculously long titles. In fact, in the "Rodd Keith" folder of my computer - which you might imagine is chock full and several screens long - these are the two longest song titles of the entire collection.

Of the two, I much prefer "Now I Can See Where I Made My Mistake", a tune with a driving sound, pushed along by pulsating keyboards and steady drumming. To my ears, Rodd sounds like he's shooting for the sound of some of the blue-eyed soul belters who came to prominence in the late '60's and early '70's. I'm actually reminded, a little bit, of the beat and feel of "Suspicious Minds" (a record I really can't stand, by the way - I like this a lot more). While not an out-and-out winner, it's an interesting entry, and I like a lot of what's going on among the many elements of the track.

Download: Rodd Keith - Now I Can See Where I Made My Mistake
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On the flip side is "Take Your Time Before You Fall in Love", by the same song-poet, who clearly liked to make his entire point via his song titles. This one is a slow drag - a bit too upbeat to be a ballad, but not nearly peppy enough to be a mover of any sort. For a too-long three and a quarter minutes, Rodd sings the writers story, which isn't a bad one, but which isn't told very well, musically or lyrically. Like so many other song-poems of this ilk, I lost interest halfway through, and had to go back to listen again to actually hear how we got to the point mentioned in the song title.

Download: Rodd Keith - Take Your Time Before You Fall in Love
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SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

When a Baby is Born

First of all, let me wish all of you a happy Christmas, and/or joyful whatever else you're having. I appreciate every visitor and every visit to this site, and I hope you find it worth your while every time you stop by.



When I found I had a recent acquisition containing the song title "When a Baby is Born", I felt that was a natural for a Christmas Day post. However, the song, named in this week's post title, is by far the lesser of the two songs on this 45, so I'll share it in the runner-up position.

And it's no surprise that the flip side is better, as it is yet another winner from Cara Stewart, in this case titled "Each Passing Day". I suppose nothing really sets this one aside from other Cara efforts, just another wonderfully winning vocal and more arrangement magic from Lee Hudson.

Download: Cara Stewart and Orchestra - Each Passing Day
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Actually the most interesting aspects of this record are probably the ones found on the label. When I shared the only other "Princess" label 45, in a post here (the links in that post no longer work), I speculated that the record in question was one of very few on the Princess label, a label not documented anywhere else at that time. Clearly, there were more, as this record, from three years later (1969), is number 19, a whole six records after the 1966 issue linked above. Clearly these are rarities - it took me eight years to acquire a second Princess release.

I didn't mention it in that previous post, but what is the deal with the copyright of "Dorothy Mann, Queen of the West"? That's got me thinking. And then of course, there is the matter of how and why did this come into the position of a Sergeant in the Women's Army Corps, as seen on the sticker. These are the things that would keep me up at night, if I was the sort to be kept up at night, which I'm not.



Anyway, the flip side, "When a Baby is Born", may make for a good title to use on a post for Christmas Day, but as a song - even a song-poem, it's fairly awful. This slow, dull record doesn't even give me much of a clue as to what song-poem factory it may have come from. Thoughts on that? The record claims the singer is someone named "Frank Cherry", but a quick listen shows that this is very unlikely to be the case. At least, I'm not familiar with "Frank" being a unisex name, but maybe I'm just out of the loop.

Download: (Labeled As) Frank Cherry and Orchestra - When a Baby is Born
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And finally, here is the Christmas card my family and I sent out to family and friends this year. We have a history of offbeat Christmas cards, and my older daughter, who is an artist, had perhaps the best idea we've ever had for a card. My wife and I are in the front row (I'm actually bald - that's a wig), and our daughters are in the back, on either side of the boyfriend of my my younger daughter (who is on the left).




Monday, December 17, 2018

A Double Shot of Tin Pan Alley

I know it's been a nearly unprecedented 17 days since I last posted here, and to make up for it, I'm going to offer up a two-fer, TWO Tin Pan Alley records, from several years apart, each of which contains a remarkable, entertaining and unique song on one side of the record.

First up, a record by Mike Thomas with the minimalist house combo that accompanied so many of the tunes he warbled. As I so often do, I really must allow you to enjoy the bizarre charms of "We're Having a Baby", without giving away too much of what goes on in its 98 seconds of existence. Suffice it to say that the weird lines come nearly back to back to back, throughout the ultra-short song. And the bouncy musical bed is just icing on the cake. The fact that this record was pressed just a tiny bit off center just adds to the wooziness that the words create.

I really wonder if the people in the Tin Pan Alley studio just completely lost it, cracking up, after finishing some of these records.

Download: Mike Thomas - We're Having a Baby
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The flip side, written by the same song-poet, is pressed even more off center. In this case, the song is of little interest to me, and the off-center effect is nothing but further annoyance. The song, "Planets of Love", is a stultifying slow 6/8 thing, of a type that Tin Pan Alley specialized in. It's genuinely difficult for me to remain focused on the lyrics long enough to care what he's singing about. Something about a marriage proposal underneath the moonlight, I think, but what's with the lyrics about all the evil things we do?

Download: Mike Thomas - Planets of Love
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And now, let's jump ahead several years, and enjoy a few minutes with everyone's favorite genre, the TV-Character-Tribute-Song-Poem:


"Dallas" was certainly a smash hit, and a TV phenomenon. Lead character J. R. Ewing inspired a few novelty records, including one that made Billboard's Hot 100. So it's little surprise that at least one song-poet decided to pen a tribute to the dastardly man. And again, it ended up with our friends at Tin Pan Alley. At this point, the house band was called "The Melodiers", although they sound to me like the same band, with Mike Thomas still on lead vocal.

They put together a peppy, power pop like track, with a melody sung rapidly enough that I can't make out everything that's being sung, but it's catchy and fun (and would be even more so if not for the truly crappy condition of this record...).

Download: The Melodiers - J. R.
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The flip side is "Gold Plate", and one could be forgiven for thinking it's a remake of "Planets of Love" (above) at first. It has that same, thuddish 6/8 beat, and in this case, I really have no idea what the writer is on about. The singer (Mike Thomas or whoever), seems to have some insight, as he puts far more feeling into the last few lines than I could imagine someone directing at this song, after three minutes of boredom.

Download: The Melodiers - Gold Plate
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Friday, November 30, 2018

Gospel Norm


Time seems to be fleeting again, and I really want to get another set of song-poems out there before the month ends in three hours or so. I had one post ready to go, then found out that the song in question was readily available on youtube. So I've grabbed a record by one of my favorite singers, Norm Burns, and am offering it up instead. It's Sterling Records' attempt at a Gospel feel, not terribly successful, I'd say, but I almost always find Norm worth hearing. Here's "I Am Going Home With Him".

Download: Norm Burns and the Five Stars - I Am Going Home With Him
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I won't be surprised if the flip side is the preferred one for many listeners. "My Broken Heart Will Heal Someday", is a fairly bland, midtempo thing, but there's some stellar drumming going on, and the little fill in melodies (and the song melody itself) are not too shabby, at least in places. In other places, particularly at the section starting at 1:48, the construction is laughably bad. But honestly, mostly I just really dig the drumming.

Download: Norm Burns and the Five Stars - My Broken Heart Will Heal Someday. 
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Friday, November 23, 2018

Rollin' Down & Setting the Pace

Greeting and salutations, and for those who celebrated it, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. I have a double play for you today, one song-poem offering and one which might be a song-poem, might be a vanity record and might be something else. 

Before getting to any music, I want to thank a couple of folks who let me know that one of the files was corrupted in last week's post. It has been corrected, thanks to "reservatory" and anonymous. 

I also had poster "KL" send a few links, including a youtube posting of a vanity pressing on Preview, a record which went for a whole lot of money last year ($1625!). You can see and hear it here. And for those on Facebook, you can see and hear a Rod Rogers/Frank Perry release here

And speaking of Film City: 


This is the only documented song-poem record to be released under the name "Jad Dees". Mr. Dees - or at least someone with the same odd name - had a career, at least for a time, as a country and western singer, belonged to a group called, of all things "The Beverly Hill Billies", which you can read about here. He also appeared in at least one movie, and had a few records out on legit labels in the 1930's. I imagine there's at least an interesting, if not fascinating story about how he ended up cutting two songs by song-poet Fred Wolf for the Film City outfit.

This very early Film City effort is notable for the herding-related shouting and whistling heard three times during the record. The lyrics themselves are one cowboy cliche after another, and the Chamberlin - despite the appropriate shuffle beat - could hardly fit the genre more poorly. But all in all, it's a fun little record.

Download: Jad Dees with the Swinging Strings - Rollin' Down the Mountain
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The flip side "This Old World Just Keeps on Turning", plods along its way. It's barely 20 seconds longer than "Rollin' Down", yet it seems ages longer, due to the ponderous nature of the song, arrangement and vocal performance.

Download: Jad Dees with the Swinging Strings - This Old World Just Keeps on Turning
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~~~~~



Now to the more confounding of the two records. We have here a record by Jim Wayne on the Pacer label, written by Opal Scaggs. Opal Scaggs seems to have been the owner of the label, as every record released on Pacer seems to list her as the songwriter. 

On the side of considering this to be a song-poem is the fact that Opal Scaggs wrote lyrics for at least one song-poem on another label, along with Pacer appearing to have been a vanity label. On the other side are multiple sites indicating that Jim Wayne worked, under that name, for multiple labels, some not likely song-poem related all around the same time as this record's release (reportedly, 1968), and one person who stated, without evidence, that the sax player on this record is Boots Randolph. 

It's certainly possible that this was a vanity release, perhaps one even target at actual hit status by Ms. Scaggs, and perhaps she wrote the words and music to the songs. I'm interested to hear what any of you think. 

But I wouldn't be sharing it at all if it wasn't for the fact that one of the sides - with the ultra catchy title "You'll Find Another Sucker If You Try" - makes me smile, due to the peppy arrangement, in combination with (and this is the key factor) Jim Wayne's endearingly ridiculous vocal delivery. 

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Flipping the record over, we find another case where a record of the same length - in this case, barely a second of difference - seems to stretch out for way too long. Your mileage, of course, may vary. But on "I Pretended She Was You", aside from Jim Wayne's continued over-the-top, over-enunciating vocal stylings, very little hear stays with me.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Pretension Overload!



It comes as no surprise that the basic scam of the song-poem company would draw into it's net some people whose writing was a bit, say, prone towards pretentiousness. And there are more than enough examples to fill three months of posts here - "The Human Breakdown of Absurdity", "Life and Myself" and "Virgin Child of the Universe" come to mind. 

I have no doubt my mouth dropped open in wonder upon hearing each of those three - particularly "Life and Myself", which cracks me up to this day. And like that song, today I have another Gene Marshall masterpiece, which also caused me to nearly burst into laughter, all by myself. It's called "Loneliness", and while the opening lines are more than a bit ponderous, the real sign of trouble is when, barely a third of the way through the record, Gene has to speak the writer's words, for nearly a minute. 

That's no surprise, given the presence of several words which would terrifically difficult to set to music, such as "presently", "correlation" and "wherein". And is it just me, or, in this section does Gene Marshall sound like Rod Serling introducing a Twilight Zone episode? 

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The song on the flip side is called "When Young Eyes Meet". The same song-poet as on "Loneliness" provided this lyric, and he does considerably better with a more direct, at times genuinely affecting set of words. The music is too bland, and the quality of those words too uneven to make this anything special, but the lyrics do give more than a bit of insight into a part of the writer's life, things that may have inspired not only this song, but also "Loneliness". 

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

SCARY BAD!!!



What better day than a day dedicated to all things scary to offer up a new find on one of the most consistently, frighteningly awful labels out there, the tiny and mysterious Noval Records label. 

First up is a song with an absolutely quintessential song-poem title, "Thoughts", sung by Noval's resident female - as always, not credited on the label (that's the songwriters' names you see in the scans). There are at least a few other obvious titles that could have been given to this lyric, but no, the song-poet with "Thoughts". 

A lugubrious pace and somnambulistic setting by the combo drag this one down, as they do on about 80% of Noval's releases. The singer - as this singer always does - sounds like a hometown girl performing in an amateur hour at the local church, although I am head over heels for the spectacularly incompetent swooping in her voice at 1:26 - It borders on self-parody, and it's worth the price of admission. 

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The flip side, "Following Around With You", features the same vocalist, but the band, as heard here, is about the peppiest that I've ever heard on a Noval release, and it's sort of led by a plucked guitar, another rarity on this label. The whole thing (except the typically awful vocal) sounds more like a Globe production than the typical Noval output. 

That doesn't make any of it very good at all. Lyrically, it's actually a close relative to "Thoughts" - a woman pining for someone who has likely been untrue - although the specifics are different (the reference to the Army seems to fly in from another song entirely). Musically, despite the peppier beat (it's not actually peppy, but it's a rock and roll stomper compared to most Noval records), nothing of interest happens, aside from a few badly played moments. And is it just me, or does this seem to go on forever.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Peppy, Short and Sweet


Man, I have genuinely lost track of time. I had no idea I hadn't posted in over two weeks. I need to get back into a rhythm.
 
Before I get to today's feature, I want to share that the date for the obnoxiously racist Halmark release featured two weeks ago has been identified as 1969. Please see the comments to my previous post for details; I have updated the post.
 


I have often found the late-era Tin Pan Alley efforts by the band called "New Image" to be half-assed in a usually uninteresting, occasionally entertaining way. But here's one I actually like as a record. It still has that oompah feeling heard on so many TPA records of the '70's and later, but in this case, the loping beat, the stripped down backing and the pleading vocalist fit the lyrics nicely, and.... I dunno, the whole thing "works" for me, even while I recognize that it's got bargain basement lyrics and a garage demo level backing. It's also over in just 106 seconds, so there's barely a welcome to be worn out. It's called "Here I Am Without You", and here it is:

Download: New Image - Here I Am Without You
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But, as I find myself saying quite often, the flip side - I Want to Be the One - does not do it for me, despite being in the sort of '50's setting that would often appeal to me. I find myself tuning out, not caring much about the lyrics or the performance.

Download: New Image - I Want to Be the One
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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Really? REALLY?????


Today's post is really about one song on a four song EP, one awful song that is aggressively ugly in concept and execution. So I'll briefly mention the first, third and fourth tracks on this Halmark masterpiece, and focus on that one song. And then I'll offer up a palate cleanser, a record so ridiculous that it must be heard.

The entire EP is credited to Bob Storm, and that sounds about right based on the vocals here. The first song is "The Higher You Are", set to one of the typically moldy old-style music beds that Halmark recycled with astounding regularly (as well as contempt for their customers).

Download: Bob Storm - The Higher You Are
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Now about that atrocity. It comes up next, and it's called "Old Sambo". I'm mostly going to let you discover the astonishing nature of this lyric for yourself as it plays on your computer, but first, I'm going to wonder - did the folks at Halmark literally have no shame? Was there no lyric that they would reject? When they read the first line of the recitation (yes, it's one of those), didn't anyone suggest that this was beyond the pale? What on earth did the folks who submitted the other three sets of lyrics think, when they played their song, then listened to the rest of the record?

Please remember (or be advised) that the heyday of this label was the early '70's through the late '70's; even though the music here sounds like the record is from the early to mid '50's, it is actually more likely this record came out during Richard Nixon's second administration, or during Gerald Ford's presidency, and it could not have come out before 1967, in any case.

(Addendum: readers far more clever than I am have determined that this record is from 1969. Please see the comments!)

Again, was nothing off limits? Did every single person - even this lyricist, get the come-on responses from Halmark, telling them how wonderful their writing was? Why didn't "Bob Storm" (whoever he really was, not (Bob) storm his way out of the recording studio?

Okay, I've written far too much, again. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... "Old Sambo":

Download: Bob Storm - Old Sambo
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Okay, that's over with. The best thing I can say about "I Can't Think" is that it uses, as it's music bed, my favorite Halmark backing track, the one most memorably used behind "My Hamburger Baby". Not that anything interesting is done with it:

Download: Bob Storm - I Can't Think
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We finish off with another track that features a spoken introduction. The most interesting thing, to me, about "Lisa Maria", is that the title of the song is not featured in the lyrics, as sung - Bob Storm consistently sings about "Lisa Marie", not "Maria":

Download: Bob Storm - Lisa Maria
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Don't miss the bonus track, below the label scan!


As promised, here is a palate cleanser.

I suspect this is actually a vanity recording, but it could be a song-poem, and regardless, there is a lot of overlap here between the two, whichever it is.

It's called "For You". And this is a SPECTACULARLY bad song, with ridiculously simple lyrics, which move quickly into something at least somewhat stalker-esque. I'll assume for the moment that the man credited, Jesse James Hall, is both the writer and the singer here. If not, he's probably the writer, rather than the singer. The label is "Song-makers, Inc. of New York City, and the whole thing smells like a bottom of the barrel production.

Consider these inspired opening lines, the ones that, of course, are meant to catch the listener's ear:

I live for only you, 
Without you I can't live
Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo
I live for only you. 

A short time later, after expressing that he hopes she loves him too, he becomes more insistent:

I'll go on living
As long as you live for me. 

That's a lot to expect from someone, especially if you're currently only hoping she loves you.

As a piece of songwriting, this is a masterpiece of incompetence. And it gets it all done in just 97 seconds.

Download: Jesse James Hall  - For You
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Monday, September 24, 2018

You Want Cloying? I'll Give You Cloying!




So the big news here is that we have a brand new, previously un-catalogued song-poem label, which appears to possibly be a vanity pressing used (created?) by one Margaret A. Rosenberger, and featuring the efforts of both the Film City and Globe song-poem factories, in each case represented on this EP by their respective lead artistes, Rodd Keith (as Rod Rogers, of course) and Sammy Marshall (identified here as two different singers, Sonny Marcell and Sammy Marshall - I have to wonder if even a single person was fooled).

And not to take away from the niftiness of all that, but Rod Rogers' features are among the most cloying, infantile songs and performances that I've ever heard on a song-poem, reaching the level of some of Dora Hall's worst kiddie offerings. That the quality of the songs and lyrics take the focus away from some pretty creative Chamberlin arrangements is even more frustrating; there's some nice stuff going on instrumentally here, but in combination with these lyrics, they just strike me as over-the-top cutesy-ness to go with the lyrics.

First up is "Kitty Cat"

Download: Rod Rogers - Kitty Cat
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And Ms. Rosenberger couldn't give all of her attention to her dear, beloved kitty, so she also provided us with a song about her two dogs, "Skip and Mitzi".

Download: Rod Rogers - Skip and Mitzi
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~~

Turning the record over, we find "Sonny Marcell" with the only non-animal-related track on the EP, and the dullest of the four (to these ears, anyway), to boot, "A Spanish Town". At least the music sort of matches the feel of the lyrics, in a stereotypical way. The sudden double tracking, on the other hand, doesn't work at all:

Download: Sonny Marcell - A Spanish Town
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As mentioned above, Sonny changes his last name to "Marshall" in time to present one of his patented early '60's-styled rockers. Despite the presence of Rodd Keith on the flip side, this is easily my favorite of the four songs, but I am a sucker for that twist beat, and Sonny/Sammy's way with this sort of material.

Download: Sonny Marshall - A Little Bird
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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Come Back to Norm


It's Norm Time here at Song-Poem central. I wish it was Norm Time almost as often as it was Rodd Time, but I just don't have as many Norm Burns records. Today's feature is not one of Norm's (or Sterling's) outstanding efforts, but I think it's solid in all areas but one. The band plays a nice pop-rock backing, with what I consider some particularly stellar drumming. Norm projects real feeling and sells the song well. The only thing that keeps this from being an all around winner are some truly cookie-cutter, seventh grade romance level lyrics. There is not a single original or interesting thing said in this words, is there?

Ah, well, you can't have it all. At least not always.

Download: Norm Burns: Come Back, My Darling
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The dichotomy between that side and its flip side "Out in the World" is pretty stark, to these ears. Maybe it's just me, but here I find a band which sounds like its going through the motions, and a singer who doesn't sound engaged with the lyrics or the song. The stodgy beat, meandering melody and mediocre, often non-musical lyrics don't help, but as the flip demonstrated, at least poor lyrics can be overcome somewhat if the rest of the record is decent. Then again, the flip didn't go on for almost three and a half dull minutes.

Download: Norm Burns: Out in the World
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