"Good Rockin' Man'
Fantastic Voyage FVDD123
Total Playing Times 36.00 minute               No. of Tracks: 50
Disc One:
Deep Sea Diver/Good Rocking Tonight/Lolly Pop Mama/Special Lesson No. 1/Mighty, Mighty Man/Miss Fanny Brown/Long 'Bout Midnight/Roy Brown Boogie/'Fore Day In The Morning/Rainy Weather Blues/Rockin' At Midnight/Please Don't Go/Boogie At Midnight/Cadillac Baby/Hard Luck Blues/Love Don't Love Nobody/Bar Room Blues/Train Time Blues/Long About Sundown/Good Rockin' Man/Big Town/Money Can't Buy Love/Hurry Hurry Baby/Midnight Lover Man/Letter From Home

Disc Two:
Grandpa Stole My Baby/Mr. Hound Dog's In Town/Caldonia's Wedding Day/Laughing But Crying/Crazy Crazy Women/Bootleggin' Baby/Trouble At Midnight/No Love At All/Up Jumped The Devil/Ain't It Shame/Ain't Rockin' No More/Fannie Brown Got Married/Worried Life Blues/Black Diamond/.Letter To Baby/Saturday Night/arty Doll/Let The Four Winds Blow/Ain't Gonna Do It/Hip Shakin' Baby/Adorable One/Good Looking And Foxy Too/Ain't Got No Blues Today/A Man With The Blues/Rocking All The Time.

With this 50 track release, we have what has to be the best overview (complied by Neil Slaven) of the recording career of Roy Brown from its inception in 1947 for the Gold Star label through to the years of 1960/1961 when he was recording for the Memphis based Home Of the Blues label owned by Reuben Cherry and with Willie Mitchell as the producer on the sessions. This album includes the sixteen recordings by Brown that graced the R&B charts and demonstrates his development as a singer and performer. Starting out with his initial attempt at risquŽ blues with 'Deep Sea Diver' (this was after his first career steps as a crooner in the Bing Crosby/Frank Sinatra mould), the compilation goes on to focus on his blues based R&B sides before venturing into the rock 'n' roll vein before settling back at what he did best, namely powerful wailing blues with recordings such as 'A Man With The Blues' and the marvelous jump jive of a re-recoding of 'Rocking All The Time'.

Roy is the composer of the song 'Good Rockin' Tonight' which was a hit for him and catapulted him well and truly into the spotlight, but the title went on to greater fame with the subsequent recordings by Wynonie Harris and Elvis Presley. There then followed a slew of great records such as the jump jive of 'Mighty Mighty Man', 'Boogie At Midnight', 'Good Rockin' Man' and the frantic 'Hurry Hurry Baby' through the call and response of 'Miss Fanny Brown' to the shuffle blues of 'Letter From Home and pleading blues of 'Long About Sundown'.

I am a sucker for answer versions of hit songs and, on this set, we are treated to 'Mr Hound Dog's In Town' done Big Mama Thornton style, one of the many responses to the Louis Jordan 1945 smash with 'Caldonia's Wedding Day' and his update to his earlier recording by telling us that 'Fanny Brown Got Married'. The last mentioned I feel improves on the original and certainly rocks along very tastily. A wonderful track. More excellent stuff by Roy Brown is served up with his 'Trouble At Midnight' a quality and powerful pleading blues whereas 'Black Diamond' and 'Letter To Baby' show Roy heading well and truly down that New Orleans inspired rock 'n' roll road.

This conversion to out and out rock 'n' roll was reached when Roy switched from the King label to Lew Chudd's Imperial Records. Some of the blues purist are somewhat dismissive of Roy's rockin' efforts but I do have a hankering for such as the wild up-tempo 'Saturday Night', the tasty 'Let The Four Winds Blow' (released four years prior to the Fats Domino version) and the fine rockin' attempts of 'Ain't Gonna Do It' and 'Hip Shakin' Baby'. 'Party Doll' admittedly does not stand up to the infectiousness of the Buddy Knox original but, there again, I have heard several worse versions. The beat ballad approach to 'My Adorable One' is superb and the band really cooks behind him. I also loved the powerhouse blues drenched productions by Willie Mitchell on 'Good Looking And Foxy Too plus 'Ain't Got No Blues Today' which serve to inspire the Roy Brown vocal chards.

Roy Brown died from a heart attack in May 1981 at the age of 56. Clearly, he was taken from us far too early but he did leave behind a considerable legacy of musical excellence.

© Tony Wilkinson
September 2011

'Heaven On Earth'
Fantastic Voyage FVTD128
Total Playing Time 235.55 minute               No. of Tracks: 88
Disc One:
Only You/Bark Battle And Bawl/The Great Pretender/I'm Just A Dancing Partner/The Magic Touch/Winner Take All/The Glory Of Love/.Why Should I/Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered/Have Mercy/At Your Beck And Call/My Prayer/Heaven On Earth/You'll Never Know/It Isn't Right/I Give You My Word/Heart Of Stone/September In The Rain/I'll Get By/Take Me In Your Arms/In The Still Of The Night/You Can Depend On Me/I Don't Know Why/On My Word Of Honour/One In A Million/I'm Sorry/He's Mine/My Dream/I Wanna/Mean To Me.

Disc Two:
No Power On Earth/Love, You Funny Thing/In The Middle Of Nowhere/Time And Tide/Darktown Strutters' Ball/Oh Promise Me/Don't \Forget/I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter/Sweet Sixteen/Only Because/The Mystery Of You/Helpless/Indiff'rent/Goodnight Sweetheart It's Time To Go/My Serenade/For The First Time/Try A Little Tenderness/I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen/But Not Like You/Don't Blame Me/Sleepy Time Gal/That Old Feeling/Don't Let Go/Are You Sincere/Twilight Time/Out Of My Mind/You're Making A Mistake/My Old Flame/I Wish/It's Raining Outside.

Disc Three:
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes/No Matter What You Are/Somebody Loves Me/Prisoner Of Love/Thanks For The Memory/I'll Never Smile Again/My Blue Heaven/Enchanted/The Sound And The Fury/Remember When/Love Of A Lifetime/Where/Wish It Were Me/My Secret/What Does It Matter/Moonlight On The Colorado/On A Slow Boat To China/Reflections In The Water/Harbour Lights/Sleepy Lagoon/Ebb Tide/Apple Blossom Time/Red Sails In The Sunset/Sad River/To Each His Own/Down The River Of Golden Dreams/If I Didn't Care/True Lover

The classic line-up of The Platters was Tony Williams (generally on lead vocals), Zola Taylor, Herb Reed, Paul Robi (from late 1954) and David Lynch. The group had recorded for King Records subsidiary label Federal between 1953 and 1954 and it was during this time that they met and linked up with Buck Ram. When Buck had a fall out with label owner Syd Nathan over payment for the group singing back up vocals on another artist's recording session, he managed to get them signed by Mercury Records as part of a package deal with another one of his acts, The Penguins, who had broken out with the classic 'Earth Angel'. Whilst recordings for Mercury by The Penguins proved to be of little commercial success, those by The Platters took off in a big way, sufficient for them to become the top selling vocal group in the music industry for several years.

This eighty eight track collection of Platters recordings made between 1955 and 1960 has to be the best compilation available - with the possible exception of the seventeen year old 254 track box-set. Complier MLaurence Cane-Honeyset who is also one of the leading experts on vocal groups during the rock 'n' roll era, clearly has carefully complied this set and has included every title that made either the pop charts or the R&B charts or the UK charts (or more often, all three of these charts). Accordingly, all the well known material such as 'The Great Pretender', '(You've Got) The Magic Touch', 'Only You', Smoke Gets In Your Eyes', 'I'm Sorry' and 'Harbour Lights' is included. With this number of tracks, there have to be many that are not so well known, of if known at all.

Picking on a few at random, 'No Matter What You Are' is a pleasant number that rocks along - albeit gently - whilst 'My Secret' is a great beat ballad. Both are of high quality and are worthy of inclusion on any Platters compilation. These are many others such as these dotted throughout the three discs but, however, there is also an 'unhealthy' reliance on 'standards' such as 'Prisoner Of Love', 'My Blue Heaven', 'Darktown Strutters Ball' and 'Apple Blossom Time', all of which are performed with little regard to the big beat. For sure, such recordings simply reek of quality but their best use may be as background music to various activities taking place in darkened or smoky places. I rest my case.

© Tony Wilkinson
September 2011