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DELUXE 3312; MARCH 1951



Over rock’s first three and a half years, the man who first introduced the music itself to the world had always been in the running to be its most accomplished artist. He had the requisite hits to make that claim and definitely didn’t fall short in the creative impact or burgeoning influence departments either.

Yet even as a few others around him ascended to similar level of success and acclaim, none of them could be said to have definitively surpassed him as rock’s leading star. In many ways 1950 had been his greatest year to date, scoring another chart topper as well as releasing some sides that were arguably even better than his biggest hits.

But in life – and definitely in music – often the most pertinent question is… what have you done for me lately? In Brown’s case the lingering memory was of the weakest single of his career which was his last release from back in December.

So what do you do to reverse that impression? How about going back to pull a song from one of his most productive sessions he’d conducted almost a year ago in the hopes it would live up to the standards the rest of those songs had set over the past eleven months.


Ease These Kind Of Blues
Usually when something takes a long time to be released it’s a sign that either the song itself wasn’t initially considered viable enough to serve as a single, or that even if it is good the record will sound perilously out of date by the time the public hears it.

That’s the reality of any music that has been advancing as rapidly as rock ‘n’ roll over the past year or so and while the three previous songs to have been released from that April 1950 session have been unssailable – the aforementioned #1 hit, Hard Luck Blues, which we gave an (8); its flip side New Rebecca (7), which didn’t chart but was almost equally as good, and yet another Top Ten single, Cadillac Baby (9), that was even better – surely the thought that a fourth stunner came from that same date would be defying the odds.

But you have to like its chances going in based on the pedigree alone and the fact that for that session Brown was being backed by Buddy and Jimmy Griffin who’d go on to make names for themselves as the musical anchors or the newly emergent Dot Records label in the fall – as the leaders of that company’s house band, not to mention a hit act in their own right and songwriters for the likes of Margie Day whose two hits by year’s end could stand with almost anything others were putting out.

The Griffin Brothers also co-wrote Sweet Peach along with Brown which gives us yet another reason for optimism that no prolonged delay from conception to release could fully squash.

Was this a case of just trying to get an older cut off the shelves to clear room for newer material around the corner, or was it one of those rare instances where an artist was so prolifically good that they simply had too many great songs to get out on more timely releases?

Amazingly, but maybe not surprisingly if you’ve been in the Roy Brown fan club all this time, the answer is the latter.


The One That Really Sends Me
When you hear this kick off you’re immediately taken to New Orleans with the overlapping, slightly soupy horn mix that suggests a loose-knit aggregation rambling down Decatur Street at Carnival time.

Funny then that while Brown and the two horns from his own band were New Orleans bred, the trombonist, Jimmy Griffin, was from the East Coast and the session itself was cut in Cincinnati.

But that spicy Crescent City flavor that permeates the record is a vivid reminder of what made that city so musically intoxicating to anyone crossing paths with it as it gives off a drunken vibe that captivates you instantly.

Though the horns keep up the distinctive ambiance, the song itself veers between two very different perspectives – despair and elation. The lyrics present Brown as being dejected, as does his mournful delivery, but that’s merely setting the scene for his emotional – or should I say his sexual – redemption at the hands of a doctor he calls Sweet Peach.

Now in the early 1950’s there weren’t a lot of female physicians unfortunately, but then again in a city where flashy piano players were universally dubbed “professors” maybe you shouldn’t take the appellation literally. Besides considering the region’s affinity for witch doctors and other spiritualists and faith healers you might find another explanation fits the bill.

Whatever the case, the real question here is trying to discern whether this is meant to be a sad or a sexy song. Either way Brown’s emotive vocal is impressive as always, wringing pathos out of the initial dire prognosis and then exploding into ecstasy when he talks about receiving a “cure” for his miseries during the dramatic break.

Maybe the confusion in the diagnosis doesn’t make for the strongest case when it comes to assessing the record’s chances, but you have to admire the patient’s fight and determination to endure this unfortunate malady until he can begin “treatment”.

Turn your head and cough indeed!

A Special Kind Of Doctor
The consulting staff at this practice is a versatile outfit filled with specialists in their fields and though none of them get a chance to examine this song for very long on their own, they all credibly assist in the operation even without the solos that you’ve come to expect in such cases.

Brown’s remaining loyalists from The Mighty Mighty Men – he’d sacked his band awhile before this you’ll remember – are Wilbur Harden on trumpet and Johnny Fontenette on tenor sax and they play a large role in establishing the atmosphere with their horns blending seamlessly with Griffin’s trombone until all of them are intricately weaving in and out of one another’s lines. Though two of the instruments have a checkered history in rock arrangements, here they all work well together, each one adding something distinctive without detracting from the overall feel.

The rest of the outfit belongs to Griffin and his brother with both Buddy’s piano and Willie Gaddy’s guitar each getting chances to sneak to the forefront before being consumed back into the fold. Gaddy adds to the despondent feel as he plays some bluesy licks midway through that get a brief spotlight, while Buddy’s piano underscores the optimism that is found as Brown dreams of the positive effect a dose or two of Sweet Peach will have on his physical and mental health.

The basic concept is hardly anything very innovative, it’s really just designed as basic framework for a dramatic vocal, but there’s definitely no malpractice suits coming after their performances as they show how a good band can add to the mood and be discreet about it at the same time.


Happy As Can Be
Though it’d be technically accurate to say that this was indeed the weakest side from that four song April 1950 session, it would hardly be fair to word it in quite that way.

Its title and some vaguely questionable analogies aside, Sweet Peach is the most basic of the songs laid down at that date and so it’s not hard to see why it was the cut that was most at risk for being left behind, if not overlooked altogether, by the label and the public as well.

But while it’s not on par with his best sides, this is still a really good record that probably deserved a better fate at the time than appearing on just a few regional charts across the country. Surely it also is the final piece of compelling evidence to the argument that this was the best and most productive single session any rock artist had taken part in thus far.

More pertinently for his career in real time though, after such a disappointing end to what was otherwise a banner year for him this record served notice that the doctor gave Roy Brown a clean bill of health and as such he definitely wasn’t in danger of relinquishing his spot on the first team in rock’s all-star lineup any time soon.


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