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Come Into My Room

Norma Jean Bell

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Album Review

Since the mid-'90s, Norma Jean Bell has gradually transformed herself from a veteran saxophonist-for-hire (Frank Zappa, Tommy Bolin, Parliament, Raydio) to a label entrepreneur and house artist extraordinaire, releasing her works in 12" form on her Detroit-based Pandamonium label. The ten housequakes on Come into My Room, a CD compilation released by the U.K.-based Peacefrog label in late 2001, dip into a mere fraction of the imprint's output, including NJB's scattered productions for France's F Communications and some previously unreleased material as well. These tracks — collaboratively served up with handiwork from Theo Parrish, K Hand, and primarily Kenny Dixon, Jr. — are shoehorned into a palatable digest full of steam, sweat, and libidinal abandon. Shifting from gritty and fervid to soft and wet in the blink of an eye, NJB's productions flick away all competitors with effortless facility. This is all-purpose loose-limbed house with a foot in the past, the other in the present, and a tail feather in the future. The only problem with the disc is that something more exhaustive remains in order, as anyone who has been buying Pandamonium product from release one will tell you; to somewhat illustrate, the disc's refusal to offer multiple versions of songs means that the spectacular Moodymann mixes of "I'm the Baddest Bitch" and "Nobody Is Gonna Love You" are left off. This approach is presumably taken in service of album-like ebbs and flows — rather than assemble a haphazard splatter of highlights, the sequencing, the selection, and the wide-ranging variation of NJB's material were issues taken into painstaking consideration. (Significant footnote: The voice that peppers a handful of these tracks belongs to the Electrifying Mojo, the infamous Detroit radio DJ. Snippets of the man's voice are taken from his live interview with Prince, which took place after one of "the Purple One"'s 1985 performances at Cobo Hall, on the eve of his birthday.)

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Prior to becoming a valued fixture of the Detroit house scene, singer/saxophonist/percussionist/producer Norma Jean Bell earned her stripes as a hired gun for artists like Frank Zappa, Tommy Bolin, Narada Michael Walden, and Parliament. In the mid-'90s, Bell became a close associate of Kenny Dixon Jr. (Moodymann) and the two began working together on a fair portion of each other's output (Dixon began producing the bulk of Bell's tracks, while Bell provided sax and vocals on a number of Dixon's songs)....
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Come Into My Room, Norma Jean Bell
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