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With any new endeavor you can’t expect those in charge to get everything right at the beginning. Whether it’s a record company just getting off the ground or a website chronicling how rock ‘n’ roll evolved one song at a time, there are bound to be some slip-ups along the way.

On Spontaneous Lunacy we’ve had to go back a couple of times to add records and artists we’d initially left out of the roll call – such as today’s artist Gatemouth Brown. Record companies also reversed course on their early decisions, such as with today’s single, as newly formed Peacock Records replaced this B-side on their very first release with another song shortly after it was issued.

So here the two entities collide. The label pulling back this song almost as soon as it hit the streets in favor of another which renders this one mostly irrelevant historically, and a website determined to chart the history of rock ‘n’ roll as it happened… even if in this instance it happened in the blink of an eye that few people caught.

The record is getting reviewed because… well, because that’s what we do and because this side, while not available for long, gives us more insight as to Brown’s musical confluence of styles as it contrasts nicely with the song which soon replaced it.


A Brief Flash
I don’t know how short a period the original Peacock 1500 was on the market. It could’ve been a matter of days or even just in the planning stages where they printed some up and never put them out before changing their mind. I haven’t seen any label scans of the first version so who knows if they even exist.

But every resource I’ve come across has Atomic Energy as the original B-side and since it was even used as the title cut of a compilation album of his material down the road the song itself is hardly obscure.

My guess for why it got pulled back is because it’s an instrumental and perhaps Don Robey, Peacock’s owner as well as Brown’s manager, figured it was in his best interest to feature Gatemouth singing his first time out rather than simply playing guitar even though he played guitar quite well.

Of course considering that the song starts off with an insistent and repetitive piano boogie which lasts more than twenty seconds before Brown makes his first appearance could also have something to do with it. Why mislead listeners into thinking that Brown is a piano player rather than a guitarist?



Mixing Atoms
The biggest takeaway here is the fact that these guys were all contributing to create a mood and it didn’t really matter much who got credit for it. Following the piano Brown’s guitar takes center stage for the next twenty second stretch, but it’s a sparse sound, one that finds him playing off other instruments even though Brown is clearly the one driving the bus here. It’s good playing but not really noteworthy and if anything it only reinforces the collective nature of the song rather than sets him up as the focal point of the record.

The saxophone which takes the next solo – also twenty seconds, so this was divvied up pretty evenly on paper – certainly ties it into the dominant rock mindset of the late 1940’s, where the sax, not the guitar, is the most common lead instrument.

It all sounds okay, they keep the driving beat going even as it never finds any single characteristic to make it stand out. The drums at times threaten to steal the spotlight away from the sax, slamming a few accent beats into the proceedings before the piano returns and is rejoined by Brown’s intermittent guitar slicing off rough notes as if with a machete.

By this point though the song has lost any semblance of the well-conceived arrangement it appeared to have in the first half when everything had its own rightful place. Because Atomic Energy doesn’t feature a single hook to bring it all back together it’s left to the individual musicians to each try and carve out their own moments using whatever means at their dispersal.

Brown takes the most chances, as you’d expect, his guitar ripping through the speakers with quick bursts like anti-aircraft fire, but there’s no prolonged solos or even extended riffs to get a true feel for his ability. We know he can play but we can hardly get a sense of him musically because he’s jumping in and out of our line of vision, preventing us from getting a good look at him.

It never quite descends into utter chaos and never loses the energy the title speaks of but it’s not quite powerful enough to earn the “atomic” label that title uses either.


As a record to announce to the world the arrival of a new label and a not-quite new but certainly barely remembered artist Atomic Energy can’t help but fall a little short. Good filler in a live set or on an album – which was too far in the future to seriously contemplate for rock acts or new record labels – but a little too unfocused for a single… even the B-side of a single.

Peacock Records did the right thing I suppose in changing their minds and swapping it out for the next song we’ll examine, marking the first time on these pages where the same artist will get three consecutive reviews.

But this also marks another first here – the first time we’ve gotten a review in under a thousand words.

Considering we had some thought to leaving it out altogether I suppose its inclusion is a belated victory for them releasing it in the first place.


(Visit the Artist page of Gatemouth Brown for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)