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DELUXE 3226; JUNE, 1949



Out of the hundreds of rock records released between September 1947 and June 1949 there’ve only been a few dozen hits scattered amongst them. BIG hits for sure, but percentage wise it still was just a small fraction of the total output in the genre that met with widespread commercial appeal.

This has little to do with the quality of the music, but rather is just a reflection of the era and circumstances surrounding rock’s earliest days with their decidedly limited chart listings (5 to 15 spots at various times) that covered all of black music – jazz, pop, gospel and blues – all of which had a huge head start on rock when it came to building a core fan base.

So when we come across a rock song that was certifiably big, you’d think that it’d be a cause for some celebration, or at least make for a more anticipated review. Yet how many among you would immediately know upon looking at the title that this was a hit at all, let alone one that spent six weeks on those rather limited charts?

Therein lies the problem – of all of Roy Brown’s national hits, sixteen to be exact, this is almost certainly the least remembered. The question for us though becomes: Is it also the least worthy of being a hit in the first place?


Beg And Steal Some More
Let’s start by stating the obvious when listening to the song and comparing it to Brown’s more enduringly popular output over the years which is this just sounds much further removed from what he became so acclaimed for.

The uptempo celebratory romps are surely what he’s most known for in the twenty-first century – all of his odes to the nocturnal goings-on at a thousand and one parties after midnight – and this isn’t anywhere close to that, thematically or stylistically. That leaves his other classic prototype, the aching despondency of his ballads which has had plenty of influence over the years even if the individual songs he offered in that realm have taken something of a back seat to the more energetic numbers.

But while Please Don’t Go unquestionably leans in that direction lyrically for sure, and even musically to a degree, it’s done with a much different bent than his best work in that realm.

For starters this doesn’t have the slow ache vocal delivery atop a more dirge like pacing. Instead this is more of a mid-tempo song which compromises its content a little, at least if you’re not fully wrapped up in what he’s singing and are merely trying to get your bearings by how the band sounds. Yet while they start out appropriately with a stark piano picking out the melody on the treble keys, once the horns join in it becomes a little too spry for the perspective that Roy offers when he makes his first appearance, already sounding as if he’s on the verge of breaking down.

It’s not that the horns sound particularly joyful or anything, they’re certainly playing somber notes, but it’s got a bit of a groove to it, churning along like they want to shed their sorrow and open the windows and let the sun shine in.

This dichotomy only becomes more apparent as they go along as the pianist adds to the confusion by rapidly hammering the highest notes which gives the illusion that he too is growing restless hearing about Brown’s misery.

Each instrumental passage that follows is also stuck between the sad and the glad. A trumpet in the background playing a circular four note pattern almost seems dropped in from another song with a far more optimistic outlook than the one embedded in the DNA of this one, even if it too is never really allowed to take off and fly freely as the other horns seem to urge it on. The sax solo is balancing precariously on the same ledge, never sure whether its jumping to its doom or leaping off for sheer kicks.

If I had to definitively assess their intent I’d say that they were indeed trying to match Brown’s gloomy outlook but the methods they’re applying are just not quite in line with that mood. Think of it like a person being out of step during some precision marching in a parade. They’re traveling in the same direction and at the same relative pace but that one set of feet that land when the others are stepping, or are stepping when the other feet are landing makes the entire procession seem disastrous.

These steps they’re all taking might not quite lead to disaster but it’s certainly leaving Brown with a tough task to get us to be fully convinced that he means what he says and that’s where we run into the even bigger problem.


Crying My Heart Out
Roy Brown’s lyrical work to date has been for the most part exemplary. He’s recycled some of the themes a little more than we’d like to see, and occasionally he’s substituted generic platitudes for deeper sentiments, but overall he’s shown a good eye for detail, some unique and interesting perspectives and at least occasionally some vivid wordplay able to stand on its own and draw a smile.

Here he does none of that. Please Don’t Go is nothing more than repetitive moaning for a lost love without benefit of a backstory or even minimal character sketch of the departed to win our sympathies. Instead he starts off wallowing in his own misery and as we – presumably – try and comfort him and get him to explain the circumstances that led to their break up he merely sobs into his beer as our patience grows ever thinner. As this goes along we find our booth in the corner bar the focus of plenty of unwanted attention as he’s making a spectacle out of himself with his blubbering and in the process he’s making a spectacle out of us for being foolish enough to tolerate it.

What Brown needs is a smack upside the head, or if you deplore even that display of moderate violence then he’s at least deserving of a vigorous shaking to get him to break his self-indulgent weeping. It’s never pretty to see a man break down and cry and when there’s been no loss of life to elicit this kind of response you really just want to turn your back on him, walk out and close the door behind you.

Since we can’t do that – not without turning the record off anyway – we’re at least compelled to listen to what he’s crying ABOUT, but the problem is none of it is very coherent. In his gasps for breath that punctuate his incessant bawling we can make out that he’s being dumped for some unspecified reason… though if you had to guess it wouldn’t take long to land on the idea that she didn’t want to play nursemaid to a four year old. Yet he’s so broken up over it that instead of taking responsibility for his part in the breakup and acknowledging his missteps, or conversely getting self-righteous about it and calling her all sorts of colorful names to vent his anger and shift the blame, he’s just repeating himself ad nauseum, lost in bereavement.

She’s leaving… we get that. He’s despondent… as if that wasn’t obvious by him crying on our shoulder. He’s willing to do anything to get her to stay… Well how about shutting the hell up, taking off your dress, putting on some pants and acting like a man instead of whiny bitch?

Hmm. No response to that one, Roy? Then there’s not much we can do for you, is there? I suppose I could offer insincere sympathy that your girlfriend has shown sense enough to run from you because she’s tired of wiping the snot from your nose, but really the only thing I might ask is for her phone number so I can congratulate her on leaving your sorry ass in the gutter and maybe see if she wants to hit the town with me tonight.

As you’ve shown here it’s not like you’ll have it in you to do anything about it no matter how crassly I put it.

You Don’t Have To Hide No More
I suppose in a perverse sort of way the rock fan of 1949 should be congratulated for being SO supportive of each and every release a big name comes along that they’ve taken rock ‘n’ roll from the outer fringes of the music kingdom to moving ever closer to overthrowing the entire monarchy in just a year and a half, but frankly turning Please Don’t Go into a hit isn’t the type of attention that’s in rock’s best interest.

It’s still no sure thing that the whole house of cards is going to be able withstand the gust of wind the rival factions will make when they see their positions atop the charts being threatened like this, so there are still those in rock circles inclined to turn their heads, avert their eyes and hope not to be noticed with the added scrutiny each hit brings. Maybe they have the right idea at that and we should temper our enthusiasm just a bit when it comes to records like this being successful…


Hmmm, what’s that, you say? Rock ‘n’ roll has nine or ten of the biggest 15 hits on the charts? Wonderful! That’s splendid news! Really it is!


Excuse me? Oh, Roy Brown has himself another hit, eh? Uh-huh, great! Good for him! I really must be going though, so sorry!

Then run like hell and hope rock’s next big hit is one more worthy of its grand reception than this muddled offering.


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