❉ 70-year old NYC scenester releases debut album today, featuring Nick Cave and friends.
“If you would have told me when I was covering Dylan’s Rolling Thunder tour for Rolling Stone Magazine that forty-four years later, I would be releasing my first album I would have laughed and asked for a hit of whatever it was you were smoking… Guess I’ll take that hit now.”
70-year old NYC author/writer/actor Larry “Ratso” Sloman has collaborated with some of the most dynamic figures in pop culture from Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, John Cale and Leonard Cohen. Ratso also wrote the best-selling memoirs for Howard Stern, Anthony Kiedis and more. Today, Ratso releases his debut LP Stubborn Heart via Lucky Number. Following the release of his debut single, a duet with Nick Cave entitled Our Lady of Light, and album-opener I Want Everything (featuring Yasmine Hamdan), Ratso has now shared his new single ‘Caribbean Sunset’ to mark the release of his album.
“’Caribbean Sunset’ was a song I co-wrote with John Cale and was the title of his 1984 album. It told the cryptic story of an ill-fated relationship from the point of view of the male protagonist. For this updated version, I expanded the lyrics and gave the female in the relationship a voice, beautifully recorded by the great singer-songwriter Imani Coppola. But thirty-five years later it still doesn’t look good for this couple.”
Going on to speak about the album he says, “If you would have told me when I was covering Dylan’s Rolling Thunder tour for Rolling Stone Magazine that forty-four years later, I would be releasing my first album I would have laughed and asked for a hit of whatever it was you were smoking… Guess I’ll take that hit now.”
For the last forty-four years Larry “Ratso” Sloman has forged an impressive career as a writer of books, lyrics and, most recently, screenplays. Credited with writing features on the likes of Lou Reed, George Harrison and Leonard Cohen for Rolling Stone, Sloman was also personally invited by Bob Dylan to join his ‘Rolling Thunder Revue’ as the tour’s official scribe – leading to his first book On The Road With Bob Dylan (dubbed by Dylan as ‘The War and Peace of Rock and Roll”), and being given the moniker of “Ratso” by Joan Baez for his dishevelled appearance. He has also collaborated with the likes of Howard Stern, Anthony Kiedis and David Blaine on their best-selling memoirs, has being personally asked by Leonard Cohen to preface On Tour with Leonard Cohen, and his biography of Houdini will soon be a major-motion picture.
Ratso has also paid his dues in the tower of song, having written the lyrics for over thirty tracks with Rick Derringer (McCoys) and ex-Velvet Underground founder John Cale – including Dying on the Vine, which became Cale’s signature solo song (inspiring not one, but two novels!) – as well as acting in films as diverse as the award winning short The Black Balloon, the horror film Satan’s Little Helper, and has a large role in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Netflix documentary on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder tour, out in April.. What hasn’t he done? His own album.
Now in his 70s Ratso is releasing his debut album Stubborn Heart. Produced by his close friend Vin Cacchione (of Soft Black and Caged Animals) at his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Stubborn Heart blends a classic songwriting approach with a contemporary sophistication. The album features Ratso singing on eight originals (including songs that were co-written with John Cale) and what he describes as an “audacious” Bob Dylan cover, along with the generous talents of his friends Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Sharon Robinson (Leonard Cohen’s co-writer, producer and back-up singer), Yasmine Hamdan, Imani Coppolla and more.
Reminiscing on the album Ratso says, “Everything about this project was fun. And it was always about the songs. They had been lying dormant since 1984. They deserved a life.” Each track carries a significant and often astonishing history. For instance, the John Cale collaboration Dying On The Vine, was originally conceived in hotel room off Sunset Blvd. whilst trading lines with Tom Waits and Chuck E. Weiss, whereas Sharon Robinson was convinced to sing on the record in exchange for Ratso writing the aforementioned Leonard Cohen preface for free – described by Ratso as an “old school barter.”
Stubborn Heart is an album that is fittingly autobiographical, harking back to various stages of Ratso’s accomplished career and life, sung by a guy who witnessed the counter-cultural explosion of 1970’s NYC and birthed forty years later within the DIY confines of Brooklyn.
His Rolling Stones fan club card long gone, Ratso’s now a card-carrying member of the American Association of Retired Persons but he’s determined to ride this new career wherever it takes him. “Maybe I can be the Jewish Susan Boyle,” he muses. “The oldest best new artist ever and if that doesn’t pan out, I can always perform on subway platforms. Hey, I can get in for half-price!”
1. I Want Everything (ft. Yasmine Hamdan)
2. Our Lady of Light (ft. Nick Cave)
3. Caribbean Sunset (ft. Imani Coppola & Paul Shapiro)
4. Dying On The Vine
5. Living In Moonlight
6. Matching Scars
7. Listen Little Man
8. Stubborn Heart
9. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
Alongside the release of his debut album, Ratso and his producer Vin Cacchione are also currently recording a series of podcasts entitled ‘Ratso & Friends’. The podcast sees the duo are break down each track on the album per episode, playing demos, and discussing how guests features like Nick Cave came to be involved. There are also interviews with Ratso’s friends such as Penn Jilette, with future episodes to involve novelist Jonathan Lethem, singer-songwriter Jason Trachtenburg and cult musician Kinky Friedman. Two episodes of the podcast are currently available HERE.
❉ ‘Stubborn Heart’ is available to purchase HERE
❉ News source: Prescription PR.
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