Stormin' Norman & Suzy

Ocean of Love

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"Wrongside Boogie" on the major-label debut by Suzy Williams and Norman Zamcheck, aka Stormin' Norman & Suzy, takes a cue from Bette Midler's first Top Ten hit, 1973's "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, but doesn't take the concept far enough. Former Gridley, CA, resident Suzy Williams emulates Bessie Smith on the vocals and, perhaps not so strangely, Jack Richardson's production presents this music as a period piece as well. That's a mistake. The Guess Who mentor could have given some of the gloss he gave his Canadian band to this Boston-based outfit during a time when Suzy's identifiable voice could have found its way onto pop radio. He oversees eight of the nine songs, with the title track supervised by Sandy Linzer of Four Seasons/the Toys fame. That tune, "Ocean of Love," borrows heavily from Barbra Streisand's adult contemporary radio hit version of Laura Nyro's "Time and Love" from earlier in the '70s. The direction this duo needed was the sound of a Streisand record like Stoney End, not the melody. Suzy does her best "Second Hand Rose" throughout the disc, and she is a character but the presentation is limiting. A song like "Green" veers off into jazz territory when it needed a jolt of Spanky & Our Gang. The strongest number is the final one, "Stay Awake Awhile," with a dreamy groove and sublime backing vocals. Suzy takes the song to a place beyond Rod Stewart and the Faces' "Flying," and this sounds like the sequel to that classic. Ocean of Love is an admirable effort, but too much of an anachronism. With talents like Linzer and Richardson at the helm, it could have been so much more.

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