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DELUXE 3318; JULY 1951



Each review on these pages follows a pattern in case you haven’t noticed. An intro to try and lure you in, then an overview to set the scene followed by an in depth musical analysis and a summary to wrap things up before the dishing out the verdict. Hardly very innovative maybe, but it gets the job done by covering all of the relevant bases for every record.

Though the structure may remain mostly unchanged from one review to the next, what each ones says of course is going to be very different depending on the subject.

But here’s one where we could simply cut and paste yesterday’s lead-in and let that suffice, because the points made there are equally true here… in the early fifties Roy Brown was at the top of his game, commercially and artistically, and as such every record had the casual confidence of someone who could do little wrong at this stage of the game.

Listening to it all unfold you ask yourself… it can’t be THIS easy to be a rock star, can it?


Talk About Everything I Missed
Depending on how much of this site you’re committing to memory (I’m sure if you’re like most readers here you’re using flash cards each night with your boyfriend or girlfriend to make sure you don’t forget any of what’s being covered), you surely were saying to yourself when you saw the title of this staring out from the screen that this wasn’t the first time we covered a song called Train Time Blues.

Amos Milburn did that, didn’t he?

Yup, he did, back in 1948.

This isn’t the same song.

But there have been a lot of train themed songs in rock so far. The train, we all learned in ancient history class, was once a common method of travel before the interstate highway system was fully implemented and before airplanes were something most people were comfortable flying, so it’s hardly unusual that lots of songwriters used it as a tool to bring people together or signal they were about to part.

All that means though is that Train Time Blues was mining a popular subject, not that what Roy Brown came up with was devoid of creativity.

However whereas on the flip side, Big Town, the creativity was found largely in the storytelling, on this side the innovations are in the musical arrangement which is as potent as most anything Brown had done, a highlight reel of all the sounds that rock was busy laying claim to now and forever.


All The Things I Must Say
They pull out all the stops for this one as Edgar Blanchard continues to impress as both a guitarist and bandleader, coming up with a vibrant arrangement that starts off with him using sustain to make his guitar strings sound like something you’d hear at a train depot as the streamline gets ready to pull out of the station.

The image is made all the more clear by a voice shouting out “All aboard” upon which the music fully kicks in as the piano and light cymbals are grinding away while Blanchard tosses in notes of his own in the first section. They’re soon joined by horns and of course Roy Brown’s voice which rings out loud and clear as he establishes the – by now fairly standard – scenario of a guy anxiously awaiting the arrival of his girlfriend.

To that end there’s no surprises in the lyrics. Even the names he gives himself (“daddy”) and his girl (“baby”) are the same generic ones he used on the other side… apparently it was easier to remember than giving them more traditional names and in real life he wasn’t apt to say the wrong girl’s name in bed this way… but his excitement tells us everything we really need to know about this reunion.

Why they parted is a mystery, but he’s so horny to see her that he may need to lift a few car bumpers on his way to the station to keep himself in check.

But let them have their fun when they get back together, Train Time Blues is all about that mounting excitement and since he can’t very well describe it accurately – or legally, considering the blue laws of the day – he has to convey this information musically which is where this earns its praise.


Headed Straight My Way
Everything about this arrangement is like throwing more coal into the train’s burner until it’s firing on all cylinders (isn’t that how trains worked then?). All of the instruments are used sparingly – in other words they’re picking and choosing their spots – but when combined there’s not a moment where something engaging isn’t being heard.

All of it overlaps and intersects until this patchwork of sounds becomes ONE sound, a churning rhythm that never lets up, speeding down the track in full control. Roy’s got the engineer’s cap on, but he’s mostly along for the ride here, letting the band work their magic behind him.

Amazingly Train Time Blues was cut a full year earlier and held back for some reason, but it’s not a moment out of date with Edward Santineo rollicking piano playing off the riffing horns of Johnny Fontenette and Batman Rankins on saxes and Wilbur Harden’s trumpet, all of whom are urged on by Brown yelling ”Blow, blow, blow, blow!”.

But it’s still Blanchard’s guitar which is adding the most colors here, changing tones and textures throughout. If you cataloged each of his parts on this you could easily fuel a half dozen great songs by handing them out one by one.

With the frenzy they work themselves into by the time it ends, apparently with his baby’s train pulling up, you wouldn’t be surprised if Roy had already… ahh… satisfied his pent up urges before she even arrived.

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow night to get reacquainted.

My, Oh My
It’s amazing that a song this lively, this invigorating, this infectious didn’t make the charts on its own.

Maybe audiences were nonplussed by it simply because they’ve come to expect such performances out of Roy Brown by now and were too busy checking out new artists to find the next big thing rather than be content with the same old thing from someone they already knew so well.

But Train Time Blues is the kind of record that Brown had used to help define rock ‘n’ roll over the past few years and as such it deserves to at least be recognized for its mastery of the vibrant sound this music was built on even if it doesn’t add much to the equation thematically.

It’s clear that we’re in the middle of Roy Brown’s salad days musically speaking, where everything was clicking, his ideas were still fresh, his band was at their peak and because he had yet to taste disappointment he possessed the confidence to try whatever he wanted with some reasonable assurance that it’d be successful.

This may not have been a hit but it was emblematic of the roll he was on when he seemed to be infallible. As we know that kind of run doesn’t last forever so you have to savor records like these, not merely shrug them off just because you assume another one will be along soon to take its place.


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