Saturday, August 13, 2011

Roy Brown and Ivory Joe Hunter Classic Blues Acetates

This review from the March 2006 DC Blues Calendar of what appeared to be a fascinating series of reissues from the important Cincinnati King and associated labels. In addition to these two blues albums, three country albums appeared in the series. When I wrote this review I suggested that this might become one of the most important reissue series. However, no further reissues came out based on the King acetates. These CDs are still available from sources like and amazon.

The English Ace label has started a series of reissues, The King & Deluxe Acetate Series, which makes available the master takes of many classic R&B recordings and/or alternate takes to make some of this classic music in the best ever sound.

The initial release is Roy Brown, Good Rockin’ Brown, and collects all but three of the recordings Brown waxed for Deluxe Records (which was acquired by Syd Nathan’s King Records). Opening with Brown’s original Good Rockin’ Tonight, the disc contains several other songs that would become blues classics like Mighty Mighty Man, Deep Sea Driver, Miss Fanny Brown and ‘Long About Midnight, delivered in Brown’s pioneering crying shouting style that would influence numerous blues and soul singers. A few tracks also show the influence of Bing Crosby who Brown cited as an inspiration although one might otherwise find that hard to believe based on his most famous recordings were. The New Orleans legend is backed by some strong bands which included the legendary sax player, Leroy ‘Batman Rankin who the booklet notes was among the first real rock and roll tenor players.

Pianist and vocalist Ivory Joe Hunter actually recorded for the Library of Congress when 19, and was 30 when he first recorded commercially after having left Texas for California. His first recording with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, Blues at Sunrise, epitomized the cool blues and is included along with the sides he made for King starting in 1947. The sessions included on Woo Wee! are fascinating. They range from a Nashville session on which Owen Bradley played guitar to sessions with members of Duke Ellington’s Orchestra. Attempts at jump number were less successful than the blue ballads for Hunter. After leaving King, Hunter would record his first million seller, I Almost Lost My Mind for MGM Records which led King to heavily promote his King sessions. This promises to be among the most important blues reissue series of recent years and anyone with an interest in blues history and some forgotten giants, should check these out.

I purchased the CDs that are reviewed here.

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