Sunday, July 24, 2005
Frankie "Zeke" Hart: I Am The Red Devil/The Devil's High (Specialty 696)
Specialty Records is best known as the label that brought us Little Richard and Larry Williams and was home to loads of great rhythm & blues and gospel. Well, what we have here is one of the label's last releases and, quite possibly, one of the strangest. This 1970 item tells you what happens when you cheat on your wife or kill your best friend or shoot your mother in the back for her money sack. That's right: the devil awaits. But no, this is no right-wing Christian tract. It's got a little too much soul for that. It opens with the devil cackling madly over his victims' cries of "Master! Master! Then, over a slow tempo groove of 70's style funk complete with rolling piano and chunky guitar wah-wah, we hear the stories of Joe Smith messing around with Charlie Jones wife and Big Ben thinking he was going to win after he's committed murder. But the devil has other ideas. "But now he knows how the game goes," the singer intones. And then the devil pipes in with, "For now he belongs to me! And surely he will burn from my fire tree!" followed by a wild, maniacal laugh. "I AM THE DEVIL!!!" he shouts gleefully! "PUT MORE COAL ON THE FIRE! HEEHEEHEEHAWHAW! BURN MY DISCIPLES! HAHAHAHAHA!!" We also get saxophone riffs that signify the downward spirals of the devil's victims. So remember, friends, the devil is always watching you! "The Devil's High" is basically the instrumental version of the A-side with a few of the devil's crazy laugh's sprinkled in here and there. See, I told you it was weird.