Album | Ratso – Stubborn Heart

Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman has the kind of curriculum vitae that most writers would kill for. Scribe for Rolling Stone, author of On The Road With Bob Dylan, co-writer of memoirs for Howard Stern, Anthony Kleidis, and Mike Tyson, lyricist for John Cale, editor for High Times and National Lampoon. Now, at the age of 70, Ratso is releasing his first album Stubborn Heart.

He also has an A-List set of friends who lent a hand, from Nick Cave who joins him on ‘Our Lady of Light’, to Imani Coppola who adds her vocals to ‘Caribbean Sunset’ (a tune he co-wrote with John Cale). The songs have a long history, most dating back to the mid-1980s. Yet there is nothing dated about Stubborn Heart.

‘I Want Everything’ has a menacing edge to it. Not so much sung as spoken, Ratso unloads the litany of things he wants, “Sunsets and rain, disappointments and pain, breakfast in bed, and the dreams from your head.” The duet with Cave, ‘Our Lady of Light’, moves on a bed of keyboards soft and stately, but definitely not serene, “Oh the oracle says that she’s chaste, now she’s throwing those pennies right back in your face.”

Something of a country weeper, yet with a decidedly New York vibe, ‘Matching Scars’ tells a tale of lovers. “Now there’s nothing wrong with loving from afar, but you’ve got to get close to get these matching scars.” Sloman closes Stubborn Heart the same way Dylan closes Blonde On Blonde, with a reading of ‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’. Not one of the Dylan classics that usually gets covered, Ratso more than does justice to a song with great organ and fiddle solos.

Very few people begin their musical careers at an age when they are contemplating meeting the grim reaper. Yet Ratso is unafraid, “Maybe I can be the Jewish Susan Boyle, 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!”