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What’s this?

A Little Caesar record where nobody dies? One where nobody’s life is even threatened?

This must be a mistake, right? Harry Caesar’s music career has left more dead bodies in its wake than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Surely they can’t think that presenting a normal record with a good groove, sensible lyrics and straightforward vocals is going to appeal to anybody, is it?

Is it?!?

You’re damn right it is and all we can say is… it’s about time!


Hold Me Tight… Yeah, That’s Right
Okay, we get it. We don’t approve, but we understand.

Recorded In Hollywood, a label with sporadic releases of primarily Los Angeles based artists which was started mostly as a way for owner John Dolphin to supplement his record store (Dolphin’s Of Hollywood) stock and have something to promote, give away and sell to the incredibly faithful customer base he built up, got lucky with Little Caesar’s decidedly morbid songs about the bright and sunny topics of suicide and homicide, wound up selling so well. Naturally he wanted to keep returning to the well to see how long people would stay interested in such gruesome things.

It’s only been a few months since their in-house death spiral on wax began and the public DOES seem still curious about these subjects, but maybe somebody with some sense in their head realized that it was a dead end (no pun intended) to do nothing but set obituaries to music.

As a result we get a song with some… ahem…… life to it for once, in Move Me, a chance for Little Caesar to show that he was perhaps not destined to wind up like his namesake by next March 15th, laying dead on the ground with a knife in his back.

But whether cutting a song in a normal fashion is going to actually work, where it’s not the grim details of the plot that serves as the drawing card, but rather the performance of a singer without the looming shadow of death behind him, has yet to be determined because we’ve had so few opportunities to hear him in such a fashion.

Considering that he was at risk to appear on the FBI’s Most Wanted List before long if he kept those kind of records up however, this was the only way the label was guaranteed to have continued access to him in a recording studio rather than only during visiting hours at San Quentin.

The fact they got something out of him that shows he didn’t even need to resort to such shock tactics in the first place is almost enough to reward our faith in humanity.

Sure Know What To Do
We can’t say we were expecting much as this starts off with sort of a prancing horn riff that doesn’t get your hopes up even though it’s at least rhythmic enough to stand out from his dour musical frameworks in the past. But things pick up as soon as Little Caesar comes into view, singing with a soulful swagger that’s a far cry from his usual laments.

Right away you wonder why they haven’t taken advantage of this side of him before. It’s vibrant, engaging and still interesting in a non-criminal investigation sort of way. The varied delivery he deploys on this is pretty captivating, from the stop-time lead-in to the melodic mid-tempo groove that defines much of the song, interspersed with some very welcome bump-and-grind interludes, Caesar’s heavy baritone never fails to feel effortlessly light as it rides along the curving road that still provides plenty of intriguing sights far away from the mausoleum.

If anything it’s the song as written which is the weakest aspect of Move Me and even that, while fairly simplistic, has a durable theme – that of his lusty desire for companionship which is laid out in rather suggestive terms.

No, he doesn’t go into details, but if you can’t read between the lines you’re likely not ready for this kind of music anyway and should return to the virginal pop stars you’d be more comfortable with. Caesar shows he’s more than ready though as he’s makes it clear that he’s already got plenty of experience between the sheets and is horny for more.

The off-the-cuff casualness of his performance is what makes this add up to far more than the sum of its parts, as he gets more meaning across with each moan, sigh and grunt than words could ever provide. The sax solo of Que Martyn matches his urgency, especially the explosive nature of those first few notes, and by the midway point of the record you’re poised to say this long forgotten and decidedly atypical side out of Caesar might just be his best record yet.

That impression starts to fade a little when they transition into a quirky piano solo that derails momentum, both by slackening the pace with its herky jerky playing style, but also pours cold water on the suggestiveness of the track because it’s clearly designed to be something that appeals more to the cerebral mind of fellow musicians than the primal urges of the audience.

Even Caesar seems tripped up by it as he comes back in and tries to regain his footing, doing so only with some effort that wastes further time before finally getting his bearings again before it closely in solid fashion. None of that stretch is terrible mind you, but just poorly chosen, as they seemed to forget the point of a ride like this is to keep you moving forward at a steady clip, not keep pressing on the proverbial breaks – both in terms of tempo but also in terms of the images they’re conjuring up.

So rather than be a runaway would-be hit, this becomes merely a rewarding alternate musical route that Little Caesar took one afternoon when he had no funeral to attend. Still, all things considered, that’s a lot better than dressing in black and talking in somber tones about somebody who can’t even hear you anymore.


Never, Never Leave You
We always say that B-sides, or in this case technically an A side to a AA (plug) side, has one goal it should always adhere to which is giving us something different than we’re getting from their top half output.

In Move Me that is definitely the case, for not only do we get away from the gloomy subjects and slow drip melodrama of his usual fare (which is the focal point of the other side in case you forgot), but it’s also radically different than the rest of his material to date, showing he was far more than a one-trick pony.

The fact that it’s also so enjoyable, even if some bad arranging decisions make it slightly less exciting than it could’ve been, is a bonus we were not expecting out of Little Caesar at this point.

Whether that means he’ll be allowed to escape the gallows in the future to give us more of this kind of thing, well… we have our doubts. But the mere fact we know he’s got it in him now, and have verifiable proof of its effectiveness to use as the basis of all future complaints should Recorded In Hollywood stick with the predictable gameplan instead, gives us more to look forward to when his name next appears on the release rolls.

Of course that’s still contingent on making sure he’s not lowered into the ground prematurely as a result of his more typical content, in which case we better get our shovels out to dig him up on the off-chance we can get another record like this out of him before the Grim Reaper claims him for good.


(Visit the Artist page of Little Caesar for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)