Friday, June 05, 2009

He'd Call This World a Heaven

Today, let's delve just a bit into the fascinating, confusing world of Norridge Mayhams. I can't begin to do justice to his story without pretty much copying, word for word, what is written here, so I'll just encourage you to follow that link and read about his wonderful, obscure life.

Suffice it to say that Mayhams' recorded work overlaps fairly consistently with the song-poem world. And despite the fact that much of that work came out under the name "Norris the Troubadour", as often as not (particularly later in his career), that moniker was just as likely to be attached to a Rodd Keith or Sammy Marshall vocal performance (among many others) as it was to be attached to a Mayhams' vocal.

My favorite Mayhams' record - indeed, possibly my favorite record from the song-poem world - is "Mary Ann McCarthy" (the 1940's/50's version, not the rather lifeless 1970's remake), which I may share here at some point, despite it having been traded widely, and available on the AS/PMA site in years past. That one does appear to feature ol' Norris himself, if my ears can be trusted.

Likewise, I believe that today's featured tracks may have lead vocals from the man himself. They are both from a 45 which I digitized some time ago (I can't find the record at this moment, but if I do, I'll ad a scan to this post). As I suspect about that great version of "Mary Ann McCarthy", I would not be surprised to learn that this Co-Ed label single was mastered directly from a 78 acetate, so 78ish, and generally poor, is the sound quality in places.

"I'd Call This World a Heaven (If I Could Call You Mine)" is featured first. This one has a wonderfully off kilter sound, particularly at the start, and there are several moments when it is not at all clear that the band members are all playing the same song.

The flip side "Run Away Heart", is several levels higher, in terms of sound quality and song quality (the latter no doubt in part because Norridge has manipulated the opening chords and melody of "When the Saints Go Marching In" for the opening of his song), while still remaining quite off kilter, what with the shared trumpet and whistling solo over the banjo-led band. The vocal hear is also quite nice, which is true of many Mayhams vocals.

1 comment:

Sammy Reed said...

"Run Away Heart" isn't working.