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The benefits to recording for a small hand-to-mouth label is you won’t ever get lost in the shuffle. Your records will all be released rather than held in the vault, they might not have a lot of money to promote you but if you score a hit along the way you’ll be pushed as hard as they’re able and you’ll get plenty of opportunity to record rather than receiving a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” reply when asking for another session.

The bad news is the company will probably “encourage” you to repeat a successful formula ad nauseum and then flood the market with your records in order to capitalize on the that attention before interest wanes or they lose you to a bigger label.

Still, all things considered, I suppose it’s better than not getting to record at all.


Love Is Fine But I Just Can’t Give It Away
In a career covering two distinct forms of mainstream entertainment – singing and acting – Harry (Little) Caesar will be actively employed more or less for the rest of his life… into the 1990’s.

Yet you’d be excused if you thought his time spent as a rock ‘n’ roller lasted all of about six months because he’s somehow crammed a lifetime of recordings into this period, as Recorded In Hollywood has basically put out one Little Caesar single every month since early summer.

He’s had a lot of good records during that time, but with his penchant for spoken interludes and heightened melodrama the rapid succession of these releases inevitably numbed audiences so that even when seeing a title as cool as Your Money Ain’t Long Enough staring out at them, a good many of them passed on it, probably figuring that it’d be more of the same – betrayal, misery and grim death.

Well, not exactly, but that doesn’t mean they don’t try to jam a few structural similarities to his past records in just to be safe.

Hey, this IS the record business we’re talking about remember, so what’d you expect… something entirely new for your 89 cents?

It Ain’t Like That No More
Not surprisingly this starts with the same spoken-word device that was such a regular feature on Caesar’s output and while he himself wrote these songs, you have to wonder whether he’d still be coming up with these had The River and especially Goodbye Baby not been so big using that technique.

He’s got the same female co-star who gets to talk but never sing, just contributing atmosphere like a supporting character lurking in the shadows in a film noir delivering a few cryptic lines before the hero wades into danger.

Here it’s got a different theme at least, as Caesar answers the ringing phone and talks to his girl who is wondering where he is.

The petitionary?… Maybe hanging out the morgue? Nope, thankfully he’s not killing her, or being killed by her this time around, he’s merely dumped her. Not because of anything she’s done per say, but because she’s not wealthy enough for him to waste his time with her.

A male gold digger! Who’da guessed it?

Though it’s a neat idea, the rest of the plot doesn’t dig much deeper than the basic premise, but we do get a few good lines to tide us over. The bulk of the song however revolves around the hook itself, as he takes relish in how firmly he’s repeating Your Money Ain’t Long Enough to drive home those points and presumably get her to stop calling him asking for dates.

For all of his theatricality in most songs, Caesar actually does have a fairly good singing voice and here he’s taking things at a faster tempo than normal which is a welcome bonus. It’s got a good melody, strong beat, pretty nice sax solo by Que Martyn and the rest of the musicians are romping behind him with fiery determination with the drums, piano and guitar weaving together with the sax throughout the record without overwhelming Caesar’s vocals.

In other words this sounds really good from start to finish, but what’s odd is that in constructing more typical song he’s lost the narrative flair that had stood him apart with his more elaborate productions.

I guess he’s like a lot of other acts in that he giveth and taketh away in equal measure, but at least here what he gives us is more than enough to suffice.

I Want You Pretty Baby
Though we may wish for him to combine all of his best features in one record, the fact of the matter is this gives us a new type of song to balance out what had become a fairly redundant – though still potent – act.

Which is why you wish that Recorded In Hollywood spread these singles out a little more, giving each one time to build some interest before essentially being replaced on jukeboxes by the next Little Caesar release… something which was bound to come to an end when the preceding ones failed to chart because they weren’t given much chance to attract a following.

Yet the label didn’t care because their entire operations were built around owner John Dolphin’s own store, the famed Dolphin’s Of Hollywood, and the live radio show emanating from the front window.

In that context putting out a new single every few weeks got the local clientele to come back to the store for Your Money Ain’t Long Enough as soon as they heard it being played over the air.

Unfortunately as solid and reliable a fan base as that might’ve been for walk-in traffic, history tends to demand more sales than can possibly be gotten by residents in just one city – or rather one retail outlet in one city – and as a result Little Caesar is destined to remain seen as a one hit wonder when all is said and done.

But before you complain too much, just remember when he went elsewhere he didn’t get any hits, any attention, and probably any more money than he could wrangle from Dolphin. Besides, considering how many songs he churned out in rapid fashion, it’s frankly amazing that they were as consistently good as they were. This is yet another small gem, not many carets maybe, but valuable all the same for those who can find it.


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