lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2009

Barbara & The Browns: Can't Find Happiness - The Sound of Memphis Recordings (2007)

A four-girl family group out of Memphis, led by Barbara Brown, was first known as the Brown Sisters, but by the time they enjoyed their first and only charted single, ‘Big Party’, in 1964 (first on Wil Mo, then leased to Stax; peaked at # 97-pop) they had become Barbara & the Browns, and later on it would be only Barbara Brown on a couple of labels (Atco and Tower). Barbara has got a deep, rich voice that is clearly schooled in gospel, but pointed towards more secular ends; an approach that is very much in keeping with the best late ‘60s wave of soul from Atlantic Records, and which is carried off here with a sharpness and precision simply mindblowing. Why Brown never scored bigger is a real mystery, because these tunes come off like the cream of the crop of southern soul at the end of the 60s: not just obscurities for obscurity sake, but some of the highest level of soul a female soul singer could hope for at the time! This 20-track compilation has eight previously unreleased cuts, and it can roughly be divided into two parts. The first one covers releases on such labels as Cadet, Atco and Tower between 1966 and '68 - including most of the unreleased songs, too - and the second one offers singles on XL and Sounds of Memphis from 1971 and '72. If you're into raw and horn-heavy Memphis sound with intense and gospel-infused singing, then this set is for you. Barbara's six Stax sides (from '64 and '65) are not originally included in the set (though I added myself their 1964 version of ‘Big Party’ as a bonus), but there is more than a fair share of big-voiced deepies to satisfy your soul – ‘Can't Find No Happiness’, ‘It Hurts Me So Much’, ‘If I Can't Run to You I'll Crawl’, ‘I Don't Want to Have to Wait’ (this one has appeared on a number of compilations before), ‘Pity A Fool’, ‘Big Party’ (the 1972 version), ‘Play Thing' and 'Great Big Thing’, among others. Most of them are placed in the first part of the compilation, but starting from track # 7 there are also some toe-tappers, dancers and stompers on display. The '68 Tower single contains two country-soul sides, the touching ‘Things Have Gone to Pieces’ and the bluesy ‘There's a Look on Your Face’. Can't Find Happiness was well worth the wait.,

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