Ratso - Stubborn Heart - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Ratso - Stubborn Heart

by Kevin Orton Rating:4 Release Date:2019-04-05
Ratso - Stubborn Heart
Ratso - Stubborn Heart

So, who is Larry “Ratso” Sloman and why is Nick Cave singing on his debut album? And even more pressing, why should we even bother with it?

Kinky Friedman mystery readers know Ratso as the fictional Watson to Kinky’s Sherlock. Sloman has also served as Howard Stern’s collaborator on bestsellers, Private Parts, and Miss America. In addition, he’s penned a great account of being on the road with Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour and an amusing history of marijuana use in the United States. He’s also penned a curious bio of Harry Houdini claiming the sleight of hand artist was a spy and done in by a sinister cabal of spiritualists. His resume also includes a stint as executive editor of National Lampoon. Beyond all that, in terms of the music industry, Sloman has always been a peripheral figure.

Owing to his celebrity connections, Sloman has seen fit to cut an album. Well, for a vanity project he shows remarkable taste in his choice of John Cale covers. Vocally, he sounds a hell of a lot like late career, Leonard Cohen when not imitating Bob Dylan. And speaking of, if you ever wanted to hear someone tackle Dylan’s epic, ‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’, here’s your chance.

If it all sounds like a form of torture, it’s better than Nickelback and Maroon 5. In fact, Stubborn Heart boasts a great, lugubriously funny duet with Nick Cave in ‘Our Lady of Light’. A song that goes to show that there is definitely a sense of humor and fun at work.  How else are you supposed to take a line like, “She can’t help but smile as she gooses the groom”?

The opener, ‘I Want Everything’ verges on unintentional Leonard Cohen parody. And I confess, I just wanted to punch it for being so slavishly imitative. Imitation my be the sincerest form of flattery, but Sloman is a pale imitation. As for the Cale covers, to his credit, they’re songs Sloman co-wrote with the legendary producer and musician. That said, ‘Caribbean Sunset’ is reduced to cheesy lounge pastiche. ‘Dying On The Vine’ sounds like I’m Your Man era Leonard Cohen doing a Cale cover.  

In terms of Sloman's originals, the countrified ‘Matching Scars’ is a highlight even if Sloman is doing a bad Dylan imitation that unintentionally verges on parody. In that light his aforementioned, ‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’ cover is unbearable. It's like listening to the Dylan equivalent of an Elvis impersonator drone on for eleven minutes. Making matters worse, there’s a female vocalist doing a godawful imitation of Billie Holiday. Something that is all too prevalent these days. Sorry ladies, none of you will ever be Lady Day. Try singing like yourself. And that is my main problem with this album. If you’re going to sing, sing like yourself. I don’t care about the quality of your voice, but don’t put anything on. What's more, don't put your listening audience on.

All I can say is, when it comes to performance and execution, Sloman comes up way too short in the originality department. The album’s one grace is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a raconteur’s charm to it, but overall, it’s a gratuitous exercise in self-indulgence. I’m sure all his famous pals will tell him it’s great, but really do the rest of us need bother?  

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

"God bless tne child who has his own...." Well, not everybody has. Ratso has a talent for ingratiating himself to the great, and thus becoming a near-great himself. Haven't heard the album, only the two tracks presented here. The first is...

"God bless tne child who has his own...." Well, not everybody has. Ratso has a talent for ingratiating himself to the great, and thus becoming a near-great himself. Haven't heard the album, only the two tracks presented here. The first is indeed Cohen-esque, as in You Want it Darker,the second lifts from The Ballad of the Absent Mare, maybe unconsciously. I congratulate Ratso for coming out with it, give it an " E" for effort and a "C" for Chutzpah.
Thanks, Kevin, enjoyed reading your honest opinion but feel old Rats needs a bit of defense.

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Comment was last edited about 6 months ago by Thelma Blitz Thelma Blitz
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Your input is very much appreciated! Nothing against him personally, I'm sure he's a lovely chap. I listened to the entire record a number of times and found little to reason to keep coming back for more.

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