Smitty: Well, my next guest is no stranger to the groove. His latest record is a fantastic continuation of a great tradition of ultrasonic grooves and uninhibited funk. His new record is called Stay With Me and it is a record that forms just part of the backdrop of an incredible career of making great music. He’s one of my closest friends in the business. Please welcome the incredible Mr. Norman Brown. Norman, how ya doin’, my friend?
Norman Brown (NB): I am doing great, my brother. Thank you for having me here.
Smitty: Hey, man, it’s great to talk with you, and I’m really excited about your new record. It’s is fantastic! I’m lovin’ the groove.
NB: Thank you so much. I really wanted to put a lot into this one. I wanted to hear that from people.
Smitty: Yeah, man, and I said to myself, man, he has shown us another side of Norman Brown. This is some fresh great new music, man.
NB: Oh, man, thank you very much. What I did was I went back and, well, I listened to my fans and I went back and listened to what they’ve really dug about me, what they say is sort of my defining moments, and I wanted to make sure that element was there and also the growth that I’ve experienced since that time.
Smitty: Yeah, man. Well, speaking of growth, man, you have created some great albums in the past and it seems like each one is a new level, and I’ve gotta say—and I mean this—this is your best record, man.
NB: Wow! Thank you so much. I feel that way myself. I really feel like it’s the best effort I’ve put forth so far and I hope the fans agree with us.
Smitty: Oh, I think so, I really think so, because, the arrangements are incredible, you’ve got some fantastic hot players, I mean, we could go down this list of who’s who with Paul Brown producing, you’ve got Jeff Carruthers in there, Alex Al…
NB: Eddie Campbell, Herman Jackson…
NB: Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum…Brian McKnight did some producing, did some background singing for me.
Smitty: Right. And that was a nice little thing with you and Brian McKnight. I mean, you cats really complemented each other very well with the vocals and then you kicked the guitar in there and the rhythm, and it was on!
NB: Yes, well, thank you, man. Brian and I go way back. We used to go to the same barber shop getting haircuts.
NB: And I called him up. “Hey, man, I was looking for this type of song.” You know, he’s the great writer he is. He came up with that joint and I said “Oh my goodness! Thank you!”
Smitty: Oh, man, yeah, that is pretty slick. I didn’t realize you guys have that background, but wow, it definitely shows, man, because it is fantastic.
NB: Thank you.
Smitty: And that’s the title track of the album too, right?
NB: Absolutely and I’m speaking to my fans, man. “Stay with me. I got what you want.”
Smitty: Oh yeah, as I listen to the record for the first time, I said “Man, he must really want them to stay with him.” (Both laugh.)
NB: Absolutely, man. I really put a lot into that and that was the thought behind it, so it was perfect when that song came along.
Smitty: Yeah, great track. And then “Let’s Take A Ride.” What a great tune. The first track on the record, it’s got the signature Norman Brown but, man, it’s got that slip slide groove and let’s just have a good time.
NB: Thank you. That’s a song that I dedicate to my brotha Popsicle. He’s the reason I’m playing the guitar. This guy, he would love to get in the car and go for a ride, so he would grab me and say “Norman, I just got this new cassette [at the time]” and we’d jump in the Trans Am and drive around Kansas City just listening to great music, so I thought I would dedicate one to him. That’s for Popsicle.
Smitty: Oh, that’s cool, man. It’s funny you mention that. I often do this: when I’m reviewing music, listening for the first time—I’ve talked about this before—but I take night drives and it’s just something about a late night drive with a new record and really getting into it and understanding it and, most importantly, feeling the record. It’s just something about me, the road and the music, and we’re just out there and nothing else exists. It’s usually a back road and the stars and just a beautiful night and the great music. So it’s funny you mention that, and I’ll tell you, there is one song that inspired me to do that.