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DELUXE 3313; MAY 1951



One of the good things about records that failed to become widespread hits back in the day is that there are still a few surprises left to discover as you dig through the wreckage.

Because Roy Brown hit a brief sales slump the first few months of 1951 after three years of stardom the songs released during this time understandably are among the first to be excised from the more succinct assessments of his career.

But while some of the songs from this stretch definitely didn’t live up to his usual high standards, there were others which were really good including this one, allowing Brown to unleash his voice in ways that still made you sit up and take notice.


So Sweet Sometime
Songwriting houses a lot of different skills under one roof. There’s the ability to string together a succession of notes to create a memorable melody and to come up with unique chord changes to add an element of surprise to a composition.

Then there’s finding a good theme to explore with lyrics that are able to present the story, characters and action in clear, concise and intriguing fashion all while making it suitable for the specific talents of the singer. A good vocal hook, a quotable line, an unexpected plot twist all help to make a song stick in a listener’s mind.

Then it all has to fit into a larger musical arrangement created for the band, preferably with some way to highlight their abilities while adding to the overall feel of the record with a well-crafted solo or two.

Lots of songwriters are modestly competent at all of those areas while truly excelling at none and they churn out a string of reasonably decent songs. Others are really good in one area but not quite up to par in another necessitating a partnership with someone to shore up their weaknesses.

Those who manage to regularly check off each box are obviously rare and then those who on top of all that can vary their stylistic approach and still consistently meet expectations are the truly elite.

Roy Brown never gets enough credit for being among the latter in rock history.

Maybe it’s his voice that overshadows his other skills but at his best Brown was a truly great songwriter who created a diverse songbook filled with vivid portraits of life, love and heartbreak like Wrong Woman Blues, framing them with dramatic musical structures and topped by a voice for the ages.

It may not have found an audience but it was every bit as good as good as the songs ruling the charts at the time.


Drive Me Out Of My Mind
The musical mixture shown here is an interesting one, giving us a gospelish vocal delivery that also draws heavily from the blues in its slower moments while the backing features a subtly rocking guitar as the song spans the emotional despair of being in love with someone who isn’t worth the trouble yet incorporates one truly steamy passage reminiscing about the few moments of sheer ecstasy they shared along the way.

In spite of that broad palette Roy Brown makes it all come together naturally, as if this were the easiest and most self-explanatory voyage you could go on when dealing with a subject such as this.

The slow declaratory cry he opens with is designed to show off Brown’s peerless voice, drawing it out to suggest torment and building anticipation for what follows which is where Wrong Woman Blues sets itself apart from the usual frustrated harangues many male singers express over the fast women they all seem to fall for who break their heart before long.

Unlike most of them who lean towards jealousy and bitterness when recounting these tales, Brown is more conflicted over the maddeningly inconsistent partner he wound up with. The anguish in his voice at every turn would suggest the best course of action would be to leave her and cut his losses but he’s not yet willing to concede for reasons that later become apparent.

To build this image of her as the cold-hearted dame who won’t elicit any of our sympathy or admiration he’s going to mine much of the same territory as other artists naturally, so in order for this to be effective he’s got to paint the picture with some striking images, much of which comes to down to just how carefully he phrases things.

His best decision was in how unsparing he was in presenting himself as weak and ineffectual. It’s not that she’s a cheap floozy – she may be, but that’s clearly not the point – but rather that Roy is impotent to put a stop to it, take charge and assert himself which might be all she really needs or wants to be satisfied with him.

He talks about other men spending his money on her at the bars then wails about her behavior when she comes home – “so drunk and evil she didn’t even go to bed”. You picture him sobbing into his hands behind the bathroom door while she stumbles around the apartment half-dressed looking for more booze as a nightcap.

Yet the redeeming factor – in the song and in his sticking with her long after he should’ve cashed out – is his vivid memory of them hooking up in the first place where anything not conveyed explicitly by the lyrics are made more than clear with the orgasmic vocals he uses during this section.

Subjugating your self-respect for a roll in the hay is definitely not anything to be proud of but it happens all the time – it’s the source of term pussy-whipped after all – and Brown is fearless in setting himself up as its shame-faced poster boy.


You’re My Every Dream
Though the vocals are the clear drawing card for this record the band is hardly incidental to its aesthetic success. From the forceful replies from horns and drums in the opening to the frazzled mindset being conveyed by the piano during the verses this is a sterling track in every way, notably with Edgar Blanchard’s guitar lending the haunting reflective qualities in the slower passages and driving home the pain with his stabbing interjections as it speeds up.

Maybe the best moments though are the most likely to be overlooked as Blanchard throws in what comes across as a contemplative reckoning at the two minute mark on the bass strings, perfectly setting up the unexpected transition to Brown’s sexual recollection and release that follows.

Wrong Woman Blues is a typically tight, no frills arrangement by Blanchard which manages to mirror the vocals while adding subtext of their own without drawing attention away from the singer in the process and shows that even as the personnel of The Mighty Mighty Men changed over time, they always had musicians capable of matching their frontman.

As for Brown himself this performance made for another vocal tour de force, and while not a hit, if you’re looking for an example of what made him so potent – as both a singer and a songwriter – you could do far worse than pulling this one out of the dustbin and giving it a spin.

Emotional performances of sob stories with a twist don’t grow on trees after all and even if they did this would still be one of the juicier fruits to be plucked from that grove in rock history.


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