Good Rockin’ Man presents 50 essential tracks from one of the finest blues shouters and exponents of jump blues/R&B. Drawing on sessions for Gold Star, DeLuxe, King, Home Of The Blues and Imperial, blues authority Neil Slaven selects the best recordings from Roy Brown’s most successful years. This definitive collection features all 16 of the singer’s R&B hits, including the original version of Good Rocking Tonight. It makes a compelling case for Harris as one of the key forerunners of rock & roll.More than anything else, Roy Brown was a blues stylist. His light tenor voice sold his lyrics with clarity and precision. His trademark was a long-held wail that soared over the strident rhythms of his band, the Mighty Mighty Men. It turned up in other singer’s styles, most notably Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, who based a whole career on it. He began his singing career as a Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra imitator but took to the blues while working in a Shreveport club. He was in Galveston when he wrote ‘Good Rocking Tonight’. On his return to his hometown, New Orleans, he tried to give the song to Wynonie Harris, who refused it. Cecil Gant heard Brown sing it and put him in touch with DeLuxe owner Jules Braun. Released a few weeks later, ‘Good Rocking Tonight’ was an immediate hit. Before the end of 1947, Wynonie Harris had recorded his version.Over the next four years Brown became a major DeLuxe artist, with a series of hits that included ‘Mighty Mighty Man’, ‘Long ‘Bout Midnight’, ‘Boogie At Midnight’, ‘Hard Luck Blues’, ‘Love Don’t Love Nobody’, ‘Long About Sundown’, ‘Cadillac Baby’ and ‘Big Town’. A move to King Records didn’t bring the string of hits the label expected. Nevertheless, the quality of songs such as ‘Letter From Home’, ‘Laughing But Crying’, ‘Bootleggin’ Baby’ and ‘Trouble At Midnight’, remained high. Like many of his contemporaries, Brown became a victim of a change in public taste, provoked by the advent of rock ’n’ roll. Brown moved to Imperial and had his last hit, a cover of Buddy Knox’s ‘Party Doll’. He also recorded a successful version of ‘Let The Four Winds Blow’ four years before Fats Domino recorded it himself. Brown cut a handful of singles for Home Of The Blues in 1960, beginning with ‘A Man With The Blues’. There was an unissued session for Chess in 1963 but it wasn’t until the end of the decade that his fortunes improved. He cut an album for Bluesway and became a member of Johnny Otis’s Revue, which took him throughout America and Europe. He was still only 56 when he died of a heart attack in May 1981.
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