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Throughout the modern entertainment era we’ve become far too accustomed to the use of the word “property” to describe anything using past stories and characters to foist another product on the world that we’re expected to eagerly welcome with open arms thanks to our fondness for their familiar origins.

Everywhere you look in the spring/summer of 2022 you’ll find it… The “new” Obi-Wan Kenobi series which takes a character first seen way back in 1977 – before most of us even existed – using the actor who portrayed him in the ensuing prequels that came along two decades later (and those movies are nearly a quarter century old by this point!) to try and lure in more viewers to a streaming service.

Meanwhile that same larger enterprise is trotting out a movie in theaters called Lightyear about a Pixar action figure who also first appeared back in 1995 – another century ago – although being voiced by someone else after four extremely profitable, and mostly very good, movies over the past three decades.

But this phenomonon didn’t start recently by any means as Roy Brown taught us in 1951 with yet another return to the main theme of the song which launched his career in 1947.


Jump Real High, Then You Jump Down Low
There’s a lot of components that go into telling stories but writing talent is surely the defining factor, though even that has its roots in the more ambiguous realm of imagination and creativity.

To that end a good idea… a REALLY good idea… is the thing from which all else flows. But good ideas are rare and one you hit upon one and it succeeds it’s only natural to want to return to it again and again rather than wait in vain for another completely original good idea to come along.

Sometimes these sequels can be good. The aforementioned Toy Story which introduced Buzz Lightyear, had two sequels that to many viewers surpassed the first, while even the belated Part Four has its partisans.

Then again there are other things, like a fourth Indiana Jones movie from 2008 with a bad script and poor box office returns that nobody wants to talk about… except for the movie studio which have already filmed a fifth one with a fossilized Harrison Ford reprising his role as a swashbuckling whip-wielding adventurer as he nears his eightieth birthday.

On the music front Roy Brown’s Good Rocking Tonight launched rock ‘n’ roll back in late summer 1947 and so if any song was a contender for constant revisiting it’d be that, especially since he’d been hindered by an underwhelming studio band in place of his own Mighty Mighty Men on that first effort.

Sure enough he’s given us updated takes on the same basic concept since then, most notably with Rockin’ At Midnight, improving the arrangement by leaning harder on what he knew worked so well from performing that original on stage to screaming audiences.

But by now he should no longer need that comfortable reassurance. He’s one of rock’s biggest stars, a dynamic performer, great songwriter with a first rate band. Hell, you could even argue he’s the ONLY rock artist to have his own boutique label as DeLuxe Records has released virtually nothing but Roy Brown singles in the last year – the only legitimate artist on the entire roster.

Yet of course all that still didn’t stop him from coming up with the unimaginatively titled Good Rockin’ Man, an attempt to remind you – us that is – that he is the musical founder of everything we hold dear.

Who really cares if that’s something none of us needed to be told by this point.


Pull Down The Shades
Wait a minute you’re saying as this cues up… this actually ISN’T a rehash of that four year old record after all?!?!

For those who knew that coming in, our entire prelude was intentionally misleading, mirroring the record itself who used a title that conjured up his original hit as its selling point. Not very fair of us I’ll admit, but it wasn’t very fair of Brown to do either, was it?

For those encountering this record for the first time however – whether today or in 1951 when it was released – the shock at hearing that it’s not re-telling that famous origin story may take awhile to sink in. But maybe that was the entire point, to set you up for one thing that may draw in additional listeners and quickly pull the rug out from under them by presenting something much different in its place.

But that doesn’t mean Good Rockin’ Man doesn’t have any precedent in Roy Brown’s catalog, it’s just not the one we expected to encounter. Instead the controlled holler of the vocal introduction is taken from – or at least inspired by – his biggest hit, Hard Luck Blues, though from there the similarities quickly end with the inclusion of a thumping beat between the lines and the shift to a faster tempo along with lyrics that are a far cry from the despondency of that record.

In other words this is sort of like stripping a car for parts, taking a title from one, the lead-in from another and – if you want to be totally honest – much of the arrangement and attitude from Wynonie Harris’s All She Wants To Do Is Rock.

That said however, those are obviously all solid sources which to draw from and while we can’t give too many points for originality, any time Roy Brown is singing the odds are that the performance itself will be well worth hearing.


Let’s Start Some Rockin’ Jive
The story here provides most of the record’s high points as it’s essentially a recruitment ad for the benefits of rock ‘n’ roll and sex, in whichever order you place them, basically giving inexperienced listeners a step by step lesson on how to get it on with your crush in a darkened room with the music acting as an allurement… and quite possibly serving as cover in case any suspicious parents are listening for anything untoward going on.

Unfortunately as great as Brown is singing and as nicely structured it is with a crisp 2/4 beat anchoring things, the rest of it is kind of unfocused. Even the lyrics contradict themselves midway through as he first tells us he’s young, then immediately reverses course as says “let’s get together like the young folks do”.

So which is it, Roy?

Then there’s the almost insurmountable problem of the backing band, great musicians all, being drafted into singing the answering lines and sounding like the unenthusiastic recruits they are. There’s absolutely no passion in their lines, little melodic assurance and since those are the two elements they’re being asked to deliver, the fact they fall woefully short on it is a detriment Good Rockin’ Man almost can’t escape.

On top of that the sax solo is under-powered and there’s nothing else instrumentally to really give it a needed jolt… nothing but Brown that is, who rescues the song with his vocal prowess alone, sitting comfortably in the pocket of a mid-tempo groove, riding it with calm self-assurance that he can somehow pull the band along with him through sheer force of will.

Turn All The Lights Way Down
Maybe in the end he does but any way you look at it this is a record that should’ve been so much better than it is considering all it had going for it… a good basic premise, some choice lyrics at times and a determined Roy Brown in his prime singing with passion, yet for once The Mighty Mighty Men aren’t so mighty and the end result sounds compromised as a result.

Who knows, it could be that the title is a giveaway after all. Good Rockin’ Man seems to be trying to convince you it’s something special, something enduring and defining in the way he tries to vaguely link this single to past glories in a way the record itself can’t live up to.

It’s not the first time he’s done so of course, nor will it be the last, but while the record’s got its flaws it’s also got some quality moments within to overcome most of those flaws and make it reasonably worthwhile in the end.

Hardly the most enthusiastic of recommendations I know, but like the franchise properties based off beloved movies that we mentioned to kick this review off, all they really seem interested in is doing just enough – but no more than that – to entice you into coming back for their next offering.


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