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Good Rockin' Tonight: Best of
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A descendant of Louis Jordan's Saturday-night fish fries and a contemporary of the proto-rock jump-blueser Wynonie Harris, Roy Brown was among the earliest of the R&B shouters. "Good Rocking Tonight" became a standard after Harris covered Brown's 1947 original; Elvis Presley later cut it for his second Sun Records disc. (Brown's own rewrite, "Rockin' at Midnight," was plucked by Robert Plant for his Honeydrippers side project.) Brown also put his powerful voice to use on mournful down-tempo ballads such as "Hard Luck Blues" and "Laughing but Crying" and briefly revived his career with the Fats Domino-penned "Let the Four Winds Blow." All, plus the hilariously ribald two-part "Butcher Pete," are included on this exemplary collection of sides by a major progenitor of the '90s swing revival. --Rickey Wright
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From 1948 to 1951 as a vocalist and an accomplished pianist he had 14 of the biggest R&B hit singles of all time for the DeLuxe label, and in 1957 he returned to the charts in the early days of R&R with two more for Imperial that also crossed over to the Billboard Pop Top 100. His first, Good Rocking Tonight, was a # 11 R&B in 1948 and undoubtedly a major influence on a young 13-year-old Elvis Aaron Presley, who would record it six years later at Sun Records.
This is among the 10 hits offered from Rhino in a decent, but not great, effort at presenting what they claim to be his best in one of the King Masters Series - including the interesting (but nowhere near the volume delivered by Ace of London in their releases) liner notes, written in 1993 by Art Fein. For the record, tracks 2, 6, 7, 12, and 14 to 17 inclusive were not among Roy's hits and, while interesting selections, six could either have been left off in favour of the missing hits, or the CD expanded to 24 tracks.
Those missing hits are: Rainy Weather Blues [# 5 R&B in February 1949] and its flipside, 'Fore Day In The Morning [# 6 R&B]; Miss Fanny Brown [# 8 R&B in April 1949] - instead they provide the uncharted flipside, Mighty, Might Man]; Please Don't Go (Come Back Baby) [# 9 R&B in October 1949]; 'Long About Midnight [# 8 R&B in October 1950 as the B-side to Cadillac Baby [# 6]; and Party Doll [# 13 R&B/# 89 Billboard Pop Top 100 in 1957 - yes, the same Party Doll which was a hit for both Buddy Knox and Steve Lawrence that year].
On all his early selections he comes across as a blues shouter, which was the style in those days, backed by the Bob Ogden orchestra on track 1, then with his group [His Mighty Mighty Men] on tracks 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, and 11, and with that same group and The Griffin Brothers orchestra on tracks 8 and 13.
On his last hit, Let The Four Winds Blow [# 5 R&B/# 29 Top 100 in 1957 - the only one among the 18 included which he did not have a hand in writing], the transition from blues shouter to a smooth approach is clearly evident. Why he did not go on to have many more hit singles remains a mystery. When he died from a heart attack on May 2, 1981 he was just 55 years old.
The sound quality, as always with a Rhino product, is excellent, and the insert includes a complete discography of the contents.
Roy Brown is of the "pre-rock and roll" sings from the era of 1947-1953. He and many of his peers have sadly long been forgotten. Most of his and his peers hits were later recorded and made famous by white artists, without as much as a mention to the origninators.
If you want great music that will keep you boppin around the house or fantastic music to swing or lindy to, this CD is it.
This whole CD is entertaining (lots of R&B jump songs). Not every song matches the heights of the original "Rocking" but every song is entertaining (more so than 99% of the other albums out there) so add a little joy to your life and get this CD.
I recommend this CD highly, but it's really just an introduction to Roy Brown. He recorded many more songs that aren't on this compilation, but it's a great collection anyway.