Sterling Harrison
"South Of The Snooty Fox "
Hacktone Records

Gone But Not To Be Forgotten, (09/26/07)

Sterling Harrison's "South of the Snooty Fox" is one heck of a great Soul record. Despite spending nearly fifty years in the music business, Harrison is just one of all too many great unknowns who went virtually unnoticed, and we are fortunate that the folks at Hacktone Records had the smarts to finally release South of the Snooty Fox. And speaking of this unusual title, I asked co-producer Eddie Gorodetsky from where this odd title came? And the answer is that the Snooty Fox Inn was kind of a landmark in a rundown neighborhood that Harrison used to perform around. Oh, yeah. Harrison is playing somewhere south of the Snooty Fox.

No matter, Harrison was a regular opening club act around the Los Angeles scene for decades and he was finally noticed by TV and record producer Eddie Gorodetsky who also was a writer for Saturday Night Live. So they recorded this fine set of Soul cover tunes (Harrison was not a writer) with Harrison and his bandmates around 1999. The material included has been carefully selected and at times brilliantly arranged, as Harrison and his New Breed Band charge through standout versions of Jerry Ragovoy's "Ain't Nobody Home," Billy Ray Charles' hilarious and raunchy Blues "There's a Rat Loose In My House," the funky "Don't Mess With My Money," Vernon Robinson and Don Robey's "A Nickel and a Nail," Oscar Frank, Rick Hall, and Dan Penn's "You Left the Water Running," and other raw gems, making South of the Snooty Fox, one of the best party recordings released in 2007.

As Blues luck would have it, not only was Harrison diagnosed with cancer shortly after the recording and subsequently died in 2005, but guitarist Larry Johnson passed on as well. This posthumous release successfully captures Harrison as a dynamic and passionate vocalist who hopefully will get the notoriety that he so very well deserves.

If you like your Soul with a hunk of Funk and Blues, check out South of the Snooty Fox, as unfortunately they don't make too many recordings as gritty as this anymore.

Bob Putignano: