Mel Brown – Love, Lost And Found
When Mel Brown passed away on March 20, 2009, we lost an artist who had contributed much to the world of Blues Music virtually ever since his early childhood in Jackson, Mississippi. “I can’t remember when I didn’t play” he often told me, when speaking warmly about his father Blues singer/songwriter John H. (Bubba) Brown and the musical household in which he and his brothers and sisters were raised. Despite serious health issues during the last years of his life, Mel also remained remarkably active in the music he loved, performing, writing and playing until the very last days of his life. He was scheduled to open for Mavis Staples on the day of his passing, and was deeply involved in two recording projects, the album you now hold in your hands is a fusion of those two projects, the first was to be entitled “the Great Lost Mel Brown Album” and consisted of sessions by legendary producer Ed Michel recorded at the Village Recorder in Los Angeles during January 1972. Ed had rediscovered the tapes a few years ago and had very kindly forwarded them on to Mel, who was intent on finishing the album a mere 37 years after the tracks were first laid down !
Tracks 6,7,10 & 11 are from this source, with Mel overdubbing new guitar tracks on them in January 2009 at Liquid, Toronto. He intended to do a vocal on track 7 as well, but when his health prevented this from happening. Mel’s wife, the Mississippi singer/songwriter Miss Angel stepped up with lyrics and a heartfelt vocal performance dedicated to Mel’s memory, “Blues In The Alley” took shape.
The other project on the go at the time of Mel’s passing was an album of new material, the title track, an original composition “Love, Lost and Found” had already been recorded with Mel playing Guitar, Piano and Organ. I believe the deep soulful feel of this track stands with the very best of Mel’s work on record.
While discussing plans for 2009 over the phone at Christmas 2008, Mel mentioned he wanted to complete a new CD for the 2009 Summer Festival season as he already had several bookings for himself and his band The Homewreckers, he was extremely proud to have been booked to perform at the Pocono Blues Festival, where Festival Director Michael Cloeren was planning on presenting him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Knowing the strain that starting a new album from scratch would put on his health, I suggested we go through the unreleased material that had been recorded for his previous albums as well as the CD’s he had guested on for his fellow Electro-Fi artists. It was a journey of rediscovery for both Mel and I as we went through the tracks together, the 12 cuts on this album are all choices Mel approved of.
There was both a deep, respectful friendship as well as an almost telepathic level of musical communication between Mel Brown and Snooky Pryor, first explored when they performed together at Antone’s in Austin, Texas during the late 1980’s and picked up again without even a hiccup when Mel appeared on Snooky Pryor’s Electro-Fi debut “Can’t Stop Blowin'” in 1998. “My Baby Wants To Boogie” and “Feel Like Jumpin'” which see the light of day for the first time here, captures the dynamic duo in all their raucous glory. The Jazz tinged guitar interplay of “Red Wine and Moonshine” grew out of a jam before a Finis Tasby session, between Mel and Enrico Crivellaro, a young guitarist who’s talent Mel really believed in, he was a good judge, as Downbeat magazine went on to proclaim that Enrico had “set the Gold Standard for Blues Guitarists under 40” in a review of his Electro-Fi CD “Mojo Zone”.
Blues Harp Master Sam Myers had known Mel Brown since their teenaged years growing up together in Jackson, Mississippi, so it was a natural to re-united them on Sam’s “Coming From The Old School” album. Mel plays nothing less than exquisite guitar on Sam’s version of Robert Lockwood Jr’s “Sweet Woman From Maine”.
After the title track, perhaps my favourite performance on the album is Mel’s take on “You Were Wrong”, Mel always found Alec Fraser’s Liquid Studio a good place to work as he could truly relax there, knowing Alec always had things covered behind the soundboard. Upon arrival Mel would beeline over to the piano before the start of any session to unwind by tickling the ivories, when something truly interesting would start to develop Alec always had the presence of mind to push the Record button, and so thankfully we have Mel’s wonderful ramblin’ and rollin’ solo piano interpretation of Freddie King’s “You Were Wrong”.
Knowing Mel Brown was nothing less than a joy, a true honour and a real education. Working with Mel Brown was somehow even better yet. Enjoy the Album.
Andrew Galloway - Electro-Fi Records
1. Love, Lost and Found - 5:42 2. My Baby Wants to Boogie - 4:46 3. You Were Wrong, Pretty Baby - 3:40 4. Red Wine and Moonshine - 6:40 5. Little Girl From Maine - 5:48 6. Pattern B - 4:06 7. Blues in the Alley - 3:12 8. Feel Like Jumping 4:51 9. Come Back Baby - 5:35 10. Slow Moan - 3:21 11. Under the Counter Blues - 4:28 12. Hoochie Coochie Man - 5:25
Mel Brown (guitar, vocals, piano, organ, clavinet) , Snooky Pryor (vocals & harmonica on 2,8) , Sam Myers (vocals & harmonica on 5) , Miss Angel (vocals on 7) , Enrico Crivellaro (guitar on 4) , Jimmy Boudreau (drums on 1,2,5,8) , Al Richardson (bass on 1,2) , Michael Fonfara (piano on 2,8) , Leo Valvassori (bass on 12) , Randall Coryell (drums on 12) , Alec Fraser (bass on 5, congas on 11) , Jimmie Calhoun (Fender bass on 6,7,10,11) , Leonard Tarver or Jeff Osborne (drums on 6,7,10,11)
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