New Yorker Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman famously accompanied Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue in the autumn of 1975 on their meanderings through New England and then further afield. His account of proceedings On The Road With Bob Dylan (dubbed by Dylan as “the War and Peace of Rock and Roll”), was much admired, and highly-coveted during the long years it was out-of-print. It was during that tour he was dubbed ‘Ratso’ by Joan Baez on account of his dishevelled appearance.
Since those days he has continued to write; collaborating with Howard Stern and Anthony Kiedis on their memoirs, and providing the lyrics for John Cale’s ‘Dying On The Vine’. He was asked by Leonard Cohen to write the preface to On Tour with Leonard Cohen, and his biography of Houdini will soon be a major-motion picture. He also appears in Kinky Friedman’s crime novels as himself and detective Friedman’s sidekick.
Now in his 70s Ratso is releasing a debut album Stubborn Heart produced by close friend Vin Cacchione (of Soft Black and Caged Animals) at his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn.The album features Ratso singing on eight originals (including songs co-written with John Cale) and a cover of Dylan’s ‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’. Among the guest contributors are Nick Cave with whom he duets on ‘Our Lady of Light’), 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. The John Cale collaboration ‘Dying On The Vine’, was originally conceived in a 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.
Speaking about the new album Sloman says, “If you would have told me when I was covering Dylan’s Rolling Thunder tour for Rolling Stone 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.”
Stubborn Heart is released on 5th April on Lucky Number.
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
7.Listen Little Man
9.Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands