The twenty-first of January 1999 will always be a sad day in annals of The Blues, it was on that day that legendary Charles Brown passed away, apparently bringing down the final curtain on the career of a supreme artist, which had spanned five decades. Little did we know that the Rounder Record Corporation still had some unreleased material recorded by the great man in the Bullseye sessions of the early nineties. These recording have now been released on the Bullseye Blues and Jazz label, and form a classy collection of inspired music.
It is difficult to know where or how, to begin describing this album, but it is definitely a disc for late nights; a Blues album with a swooping soulful jazz inflected sound. The tracks on the album have one thing in common, they all feature Charles Brown on lone piano with no backing, and Brown's wonderful deep voice and soulful vocals, but most of all they exude class, sheer class! The wonderful piano work shows that even in his seventies Charles Brown had not forgotten his classical training, the clarity of his playing is excellent and the timing spot on. The vocals are laid back but at once clear and pointed.
Trying to pick out individual tracks is not easy, the overall standard is so high, but of particular note are "One Never Knows, Does One?", "Black Night", "Give Me A Woman", "Hard Times", and "Stumbled and Fell in Love". "Black Night" is a bluesy number where Charles Brown tells us of life after a love has been lost the soulful and mournful vocals leave you in no doubt as to how the singer feels about life.
On a more upbeat note "Give Me a Woman" tells of the need for a woman, any woman. On this exuberant track Charles even tells us about some of the less desirable characteristics he would accept in a woman, if only he could just find love! Possibly the best track on the album is "Hard Times," a really classy Blue number about the loss of love and hope, sung over some awesome piano work, contrasting greatly with the sorry emotional state of the man singing the words. To sum up this album is simple, it is a great end point to the career of a true Blues Legend. The exquisite piano playing and soulful slow burning singing combine to form a classic late night blues album. Charles Brown, Rest In Peace, you will be missed but not forgotten.
Rounder Records Corp.
One Camp Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140
This review is copyright © 1999 by Ian Webb, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.