Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Quite why and how this 2004 album has turned up only now is a mystery to me, but here it. Better late than . . .
This old journeyman r'n'b singer co-wrote eight songs with Bob Marley in early '68 (a few appear on the Soul Almighty collection) and Marley recorded a number of his originals, and Norman apparently wrote some lyrics for the Irma Thomas/Rolling Stones hit Time is On My Side (which is always only credited to Jerry Ragavoy).
A young Jimi Hendrix jammed with him in New York clubs -- but mostly Norman lead a version of the Coasters for a few decades.
All that aside, he has an aged voice which hints at the Sam Cooke era and the quiver and fragility in it becomes more appealing over repeat listens. It's a tightrope walk to the melody.
The story behind this album is that when people were cleaning out his untidy apartment a few years back they came on a box of old lyrics from the 60s and 70s and encouraged Norman to record them, which he did -- in his apartment.
With backing by a studio band of friends and admirers added, these are period pieces in a way, but that actually lends them even more charm -- and to hear an old man singing of love takes the lyrics out of their post-teen dimension and into some other place.
Norman may not quite be the great lost artist that his record company and PR people would have you believe, but he is certainly someone who is a bridge back to another time, and this album stands on its own merits even without the interesting backstory.