I always think of the Original Sin album as one of Steinman’s career highlights, but it’s also rather bizarrely choppy. The best songs on the album are amazing, but it’s rather strange that he follows the clear single, the song that everyone expected to be an enormous hit (and it was, eventually, just not in this incarnation.) with some re-used music from “The Storm,” a spoken-word rant by Ellen Foley, and a Bacharach/David cover. I’m putting them all together, because I don’t have all that much to say.
“The Opening of the Box” is a mix of some of the most dramatic parts of “The Storm” from back on Steinman’s solo album, which I reviewed here. I don’t think this is even any new recording, since Steve Margoshes is still credited for arranging and conducting.
“The Want Ad” is another ranting speech along the lines of “Love and Death and an American Guitar,” but it’s delivered by Ellen Foley rather than Steinman, and it’s pretty fundamentally from a female perspective, so it needs to be. It’s a pretty great rant about some of the ridiculous things men do and awful ways they treat women. She rants about having placed a personal ad only to get essentially nothing but terrible responses. Her performance is great, and the echo on her voice really adds to the atmosphere–I always feel like it’s a nod to the fact that she’s only one of many women in this position. I don’t know that it’s really saying anything terribly deep or new, but it’s good for what it is.
Then we get a Hal David/Burt Bacharach cover. “Little Red Book” was originally released in 1966 by Manfred Mann, recorded for the score album to What’s New, Pussycat? (Clive Donner, USA/France 1965). Ellen Foley gets the lead vocal (and Deliria Wilde is credited with “Featured vocal,” whatever that means) and I have to admit that I don’t think she sounds great throughout–she sounds a bit strained in the verses, even though she sounds fine in the chorus. The re-arrangement of this song from Steinman is a great improvement over the original, building on the propulsive rhythm that serves as the strongest point and adding some surprisingly crunchy guitars that make the overall sound more “rock” and surprisingly more timeless than the original.
The chorus of “Little Red Book” actually has, for me, a pretty catchy melody, but there just isn’t enough around it to hold my interest for the entire song. This version is definitely far better than the Manfred Mann original, but I still don’t love it. Back in the CD days, I used to get annoyed by this song’s presence because I really enjoyed “The Want Ad” but otherwise just wanted to get from “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” to “It Just Won’t Quit,” but not having that context around it actually really helps it work.
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