Joe Brown

TrackSingle
People Gotta TalkDecca F 11185
Comes The DayDecca F 11185
The Darktown Strutters' BallDecca F11207
ShinePye 7N15322
The SwitchPye 7N15322
I'm Henery The Eighth I AmPiccadilly 7N 35005
What A Crazy World We're Living InPiccadilly 7N 35024
A Picture Of YouPiccadilly 7N 35047
Just Like ThatPiccadilly 7N 35194
Hey MamaAmmo AMO 101

 

Joe Brown photo 1

 

 

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Joe Brown playlist

 

Joe Brown photo 9

Joe Brown and the Bruvvers (clockwise from top centre): Bobby Graham, Brian Dunn, Joe Brown, Pete Oakman

 

Contributor: Dave Stephens

I’ve commented or at least implied elsewhere that, with certain honourable exceptions, first generation British rockˈnˈroll wasn’t up to much. Those exceptions, in my book, would include Billy Fury and the towering figure of Lonnie Donegan (though the latter actually preceded the Brit urge to emulate Elvis, Little Richard et al and drew his influence from earlier music). But even the likes of Fury and Donegan took 90% of their inspiration from the US, as had pop music artists from all English speaking countries starting in the year dot, or so it seemed.

There was another exception and that gentleman was, and still is, Joe Brown. Joe was different. Other than on his first single there was little trace of America in his vocal delivery. And his early choice of material was in massive contrast to those songs picked (or picked for) other UK artists at that time. Decca single number 3, and the first to be credited to Joe Brown And The Bruvvers, is a great example: The Darktown Strutters’ Ball was/is an oldie, and I mean a real oldie, since it was written way back in 1917. It’s the sort of number that you could imagine sitting neatly in a Trad Jazz band’s repertoire or being pummelled to death by a pub pianist late in the evening when the room has filled with smoke – I’m talking about way back when – but a few punters are still sufficiently aware to raise themselves enough to join in.

There’s a mock intro from Joe – “Me and the Bruvvers would like to do a little ditty now what the old woman used to sing to us when we were kids, thank you”, which is over almost as soon as it starts – and then we’re off on a helter skelter guitar, bass and drums adrenaline rush. Yes, this is an oldie, but it’s an oldie with edge. Other Brit performers might not have noticed but tackling oldies was a legitimate activity for US rockers: check out Domino, Penniman and Presley (or even the Footnotes) so Brown was on solid ground. And while the song was solidly American (and black American too), it acquired a distinctly British flavour via Joe’s undisguised cockney accent and his shouted “Hobnail boots” at the end of verse number one – which turned out to be the only verse since Joe didn’t bother to pick up any more from the original, though he, or someone, did bring those ancient lines a little more up to date:

I’ll be down to get you in a hot rod honey
You better be ready by half past eight
Oh sugar don’t be late
I want to be there when the band starts playing
Remember when we get there honey
The two-steps, I’m goin’ to have ‘em all
Goin’ to tear my blue suede shoes
When I hear those yellow bell blues
Tomorrow night at the Darktown Strutters Ball

Have I gone a tad overboard on this one? Maybe. But it’s a performance that still works and sits up there alongside late fifties American records. I could say that it’s a guaranteed inclusion in the top ten of British fifties style rockers, but I’m conscious that’s not the greatest of accolades once you’ve counted Move It, Shakin’ All Over (and possibly its predecessor) plus a few from The Sound Of Fury and maybe Vince Taylor.

The record label, Decca, didn’t immediately go for a like-for-like follow-up, which would have been the norm; instead they tried to be a bit more creative but I’ll come on to that in a moment. In contrast, the first record to see release after Joe’s move to Pye/Piccadilly roughly a year down the track, was another oldie, Shine, the origins of which even predated ‘Darktown Strutters’. A perfectly good record but not such an outright rocker as its predecessor. And it did the job, skipping up to #33 in our chart.

… and I said I’d get to the creative bit. The lightbulb flashed for Decca on the word COCKNEY. They didn’t seem to notice the second word ROCK which should have had at least as much emphasis. So was it a surprise that Lionel Bart’s name appeared in the writer credits on single #4, Jellied Eels and that the Bruvvers had been shooed out of the studio, taking Joe’s Gibson with them? The record might have been fine in musical comedy with a song & dance routine à la Tommy Steele but it wasn’t a pop record. (I nearly forgot to say that Decca put another oldie, Dinah, on the flip but its positioning didn’t indicate a lot of faith in it.)

Pye pursued the same cockney path with Crazy Mixed Up Kid and A Lay-About’s Lament but they kept the band in the studio and it has to be said that both were more palatable than Jellied Eels (and didn’t Ian Dury do something not unlike these quite a few years later?). But they got the mix right with I’m Henery The Eighth I Am. An oldie yes, but a real British music hall oldie and one that Joe and the band could apply a crunchy rock approach to in addition to the East End enunciation. Okay it was singalong rock, later to be popularised by Chas & Dave, but it worked, particularly on stage. Play it loud.

In a sense, Joe and the boys used exactly the same approach as for “Darktown Strutters”; one verse only – don’t bother about the rest – with coruscating interludes from Brown’s guitar in between repeats of that verse. No hit followed this time though but one did in ’65 for Herman and his Hermits who got themselves a US #1 with Joe’s idea and arrangement in ’65.

Pye must have thought they were on the right track though. The follow-up record mixed the cockney rock blend in with a new song, indeed one that could be termed social satire boasting a memorable opening line – “Dad’s gone down the dog track, muvver’s playin’ bingo”. The writer was a gent called Alan Klein who was not the American manager with a similar name. There’s no way I would exclude this one since there’s a chance that I might have been on the record. Pye wanted to get a live atmosphere and they recorded the track on one of Joe’s sets in the October 1961 UK tour of would-be rockers. The set selected came from 31st October at the Granada, Woolwich. I was in the audience for the first of the two performances but can I find which performance was selected? Nope. My suspicion is that it would have been the second, possibly chosen for increased applause level but I could be wrong (and hope so).

I fully concede that “Crazy World” was more of a good time number than a rocker but John Sebastian and the Spoonful didn’t do badly with admittedly more wistful versions of this sort of thing. The record got itself into the thirties in our Pop Chart; this was starting to get repetitive, could he ever clamber higher?

So far I’ve totally ignored that part of Joe’s repertoire which highlighted his prowess on guitar. Bear in mind that he was the man who took the Scotty Moore role on Billy Fury’s The Sound Of Fury LP. Every now and again a rock instrumental would appear from nowhere and surprise everyone with a respectable chart showing. Neither Decca nor Pye were unaware of this fact with the consequence that the early part of Joe (and the Bruvvers) record history was well adorned with such records.

Joe’s first foray into instros came with the two parter, Savage – of which this is Part 1 – which saw himself and the band rechristened as The Sneaky Petes. The track arose from some studio jamming with Mort Shuman – he of the Doc Pomus songwriting partnership – after that gentleman had recorded I’m A Man/Turn Me Loose in Decca’s UK studio with Joe backing him. The Pomus & Shuman pair were briefly in London in late ’59 for a celebration of their songs on Jack Good’s Boy Meets Girls TV show.

Some more forethought found its way into The Switch which was issued on the flip of Shine at the start of ’61. What made this track was the appearance of a tenor sax which could have been played by one of those L.A. session guys who almost invariably turned up on Duane Eddy singles, only, while such a presence on a Duane track could sometimes push it over into parody, on Joe’s little bouncer Mr Sax Man stayed the right side of the raunch/corn boundary.

There were further instros. Early sixties rock fare with names like Swagger and Popcorn got replaced by Mediterranean specialties like The Spanish Bit and Sicilian Tarantella produced for those who were starting to take more exotic holidays (or was that somewhat later on?). His take on All Things Bright And Beautiful fitted in there too. I seem to recall it getting played quite a bit and was slightly surprised to find it didn’t hit the charts at all. It wasn’t quite as schmaltzy as one might have expected.

Joe’s biggest hit – it was #2 in the only chart that mattered but #1 in all the others – was A Picture Of You written by two members of the Bruvvers, Pete Oakman and John Beveridge. It was also his best, consisting of little more than a jogalong teen ditty which, with its predominantly acoustic sound, seemed to have some rather vague relationship to country music. It was very pleasing when playing it again to recognise that element of freshness present; nothing was forced, everything fell into place perfectly naturally. Its closest comparisons are probably Sir Cliff’s Living Doll and Travelling Light and “Picture” could well be the best of the three.

In the night, there are sights to be seen
Stars like jewels on the crown of a queen

To most buyers at the time this was a new Joe, one who didn’t fit the characteristics which had previously been seen to define him; that is, cockney rocker/oldies specialist and guitar supremo. The song was new, ballad-like and delivered with a minimum of artifice other than a femme chorale which was probably obligatory this being the early sixties. That grouping of bodies who I referred to as “most buyers at the time” probably wouldn’t have heard Joe’s first single, People Gotta Talk about which, many of those words I wrote about “Picture” also applied (while it wasn’t quite that brilliant it did feature a fine middle eight with a neat doubled up rhythm). Writers are listed as Pomus, Shuman so I guess it’s one the pair found in the luggage and passed across to Joe during the visit. (I would emphasise the word “guess” in that sentence, I haven’t seen this written down anywhere.)

Flip People Gotta Talk and you get Comes The Day, a semi-rocker with an unusual melody line which had also been written by Pomus & Shuman. It’s one with a strong American feel and that same element of freshness about it that we find on “Picture”. If the far more culturally fashionable Billy Fury had cut this number, the record would very likely have been viewed as an absolute treasure. As it is, Joe gets to register 1.1k viewers on YouTube and that’s it.

If you want another comparison for the record – other than Fury’s That’s Love – then let’s just say that it puts me in mind of Sun Studio output from one of their lesser known artists. But I’ll say no more since I’ve been inclined to verbosity on the topic. Let’s just say that, for me, that’s definitely praise.

I’ve digressed since we were, perhaps a tad roughly, moving along the trajectory of Joe’s early recording career. There were several half-decent follow-ups to A Picture Of You but none of them were good enough to stand alongside it, although such records did attain half decent chart placings. With an exception or two which I’ll come to, the last of Joe’s charting records was Sally Ann in 1963. The date is significant. This was the year that the Beatles steam-rollered everything and everyone. Okay, Love Me Do was ’62 but Please Please Me in Jan ’63 was the first smasheroonie. Quite naturally any record and any artist that smacked of the pre-Beatles era went out the window, but fast. Joe got to be a big friend of George Harrison – the Beatles were fans of A Picture Of You – but that didn’t stop his (Joe’s) records sitting, not budging on record shop shelves.

Joe Brown poster 2

Like pretty well everyone else I switched my attention to the ‘new’ music (though I was also getting into blues and soul, in parallel to encountering those other new artists, the Stones). While Joe didn’t disappear from my memory banks, his records didn’t get plugged so I neither heard them nor sought them out. For the sake of this exercise I have listened to most, but possibly not quite all, of Joe’s later singles. While I noted a number of ‘good efforts’ – summer ’68’s wistful Katerine reminded me again of a certain J. Sebastian and 1970’s Give Me Muddy Water was a good natured semi-pastiche of Brit Blues – I found nothing that I felt really stood out. There were some curios like his 1969 take on Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne (which hasn’t even gotten on to YouTube but a 45cat commenter reckons it’s rather good) and a version of the folk cum country number Satisfied Mind which starts off superbly with a low key brass band backing Joe and then gets treated like a power ballad which blows that understated opening out the window. His version of Don Gibson’s Sea Of Heartbreak also deserves a mention but again there was too much going on in the background.

But I persevered. And it was worth it since two near gems emerged. From summer ’64, the Ian Samwell penned Just Like That was released. It sounded not unlike one of those late Sun era Johnny Cash records usually with an everyday saying type title line, wherein JC was documenting a relationship rather than going for something of more import (think something like Thanks A Lot though it’s not quite as good as that). The metallic sounding guitar on the Brown record didn’t do anything to improve the comparison but it didn’t hurt the record at all.

After his early 60s success had dropped off Joe revisited the charts twice (but hovered in the thirties again): in ’67 with a cover of With A Little Help From My Friends (which had more similarities to the Starr/Beatles original than the angst-ridden Cocker cover), and in ’73 with a new song Hey Mama written by British composers Chris Arnold, Geoff Morrow and David Martin who owned the label (Ammo) on which it was released. It was an unashamedly sentimental ballad of possible Jewish derivation (or is it just that it reminds me of a song that I can’t quite recall) and didn’t sound remotely like a British pop record. Apparently it might have been a hit if there hadn’t been pressing problems at the plant. I rather like it but can well understand the possibility of a marmite effect on listeners:

Hey mama, though I’m half a world away mama, I’d like to think I still belong

The clip I used gives me a completely unplanned segue to Joe’s album career which didn’t start in earnest till the 90s. Discogs lists 12 albums from 1991 onwards not counting compilations or rereleases. While several were self-releases on his own label, others appeared on Jet, Demon, Round Tower and Track. Some were records of his stage show which has continued to evolve over the years while others found him tackling a wide range of material, sometimes going back to that music that first inspired him to pick up a guitar including the likes of Joe Turner along with Elvis, Buddy and JC, but on other occasions slipping in items composed by more contemporary artists and his own efforts. Sadly I have to report that I haven’t done justice to this large trove of often fascinating material but from dipping my toes in here and there I can report that a high level of musicianship is maintained throughout and that while due reverence is maintained to the older material that doesn’t prevent creativity being used intelligently in his interpretations. One track that particularly caught my attention was his take on Richard Thompson’s The Dimming Of The Day which appeared on Down To Earth in 2006. Daughter Sam (in the Linda role) and son Pete on 12 string are present in the backing team and Joe plays both slide guitar (very fine) and mandolin.

The album in the clip? It’s only Joe’s 60th Anniversary Collection Box Set which is released this November and just happens to be his first box set (and his first retrospective of any real significance). Containing 6 CD’s, one DVD, plenty of unreleased stuff and, among other goodies, a Joe Brown 60th Anniversary plectrum; there had been plenty of boat-pushing-out going on in the production of this package. And I’ve been doing plenty of dipping into the tracks – it’s already on Spotify – and I haven’t found anything at all disappointing so far. Only the better singles are included; the focus is largely on the albums. AllMusic commented in relation to Joe’s 1997 album 56 & Taller Than You Think, that it “wasn’t much more than a nostalgic, laidback collection of pub rock” albeit with “a certain ingratiating charm”. I suspect that their opinion of the box set when they critique it will be more generous, judging by later reviews. Mind you I don’t think Joe would be unhappy with being described as a purveyor of pub rock with laidback charm.

I’ve sometimes finished a Toppermost piece with a number of quotations about the artist concerned from other, usually highly regarded, artists or critics. For this one I thought I’d turn that on its head and use a number of quotes from the man himself.

(From the On-line Express, October 2016)
“I was born in Swarby in Lincolnshire, and was evacuated to London during the war when I was two . . . Everyone thinks I’m a Cockney ’cos of the way I talk but I definitely wasn’t born within the sound of Bow Bells. However, I did a bit of research and it turns out Bow Bells were bombed out of existence by the Germans on May 10, 1941 – and I was born three days later. So after May 10 there weren’t any more Cockneys!”

(From Record Collector, circa 2005)
“When I was a kid I came to live with my uncle in Plaistow, near the docks. He had a pub. I fell in love with the guitar when I was 11. There was a bloke called Georgie Dance, who played in the pub – and I bought a guitar from him. You could say my early influences were pub music – I’m Henery the Eighth I Am, Darktown Strutters Ball.”

(From the Manchester Evening News, 2013)
“I thought it was wonderful music. Skiffle was young people’s music, and young people didn’t have any other music at that time, it was all these big bands and people singing in white suits.”

(From the Manchester Evening News, 2013)
“Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent were great. We went on tour backing them, and also a guy called Ronnie Hawkins, who’s still around, a big star in Canada. He brought a drummer with him called Levon Helm, and they asked me to go back to Canada with them and join their band. I wish I had done.”

(From the Eight Miles Higher blog, January 2016, re. The Sound Of Fury recording session)
“The great thing about that was that we went in the studio … I think it was round about two o’ clock in the afternoon, and we was out by three! We’d done all the album, everything, and out, finished in one take, the whole thing done in an hour. And it turned out very well.”

(From the On-line Express, date not given, on the subject of George Harrison)
“What we had in common was that neither of us was a musical snob. Music was music and if it came from the heart, it was good. We liked music that went way back – like George Formby, Hoagy Carmichael. Real music.” What made George Harrison such a true friend? “Ukuleles!” says Joe. “We both love ukuleles. George ended up as my best man and he certainly was an’ all. He was a wonderful friend and I miss him every day.”

There’s been a distinct shortage of live music so far. The clips below from Joe and the Bruvvers on Jools in 2008 and from the Live In Liverpool set, might rectify that a little:

Well now if you’ve seen this before you’ll know that we always close our show off with a couple of old rock and roll tunes just in case there’s any old teddy boys here tonight …

 

 

Joe Brown photo 4

The Spacemen in 1957 (back row l to r) Joe Brown, Pete Oakman, Gary Gleed (front row l to r) Sid Rodwell, George Staff, Tony Oakman

 

FOOTNOTES

1. He was born Joseph Roger Brown on 13th May 1941 in Swarby, Lincolnshire but his family moved to Plaistow, London when he was two years old, hence the later cockney sparrow tag. He was actually raised above his uncle’s pub, The Sultan, in Plaistow. At the age of 15 he joined the Spacemen skiffle group (see photo above) which continued until skiffle fizzled out at the end of the 50s. However, he was spotted by Jack Good and as a result joined the orchestra on lead guitar role for the TV series, Boy Meets Girls, the successor to Oh Boy. This gave him invaluable experience supporting visiting US stars like Johnny Cash and those gents mentioned earlier which he took to with much relish. Larry Parnes signed him up as one of his stable – he was one of the few who resisted the name change, unlike Fame, Fury, Eager etc. – and got him a record contract, initially with Decca. His second record, the rocked-up oldie, The Darktown Strutters’ Ball, managed a lowish spot in the charts as did his fourth single, Shine, and that’s where the main text largely takes over.

The singles’ chart success continued but, like that of many of his peers, it came to a halt in 1963, other than the odd last fling(s) like a version of the Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends in ’67. Since then, he seems to have kept himself busy via a number of different channels including stage musicals, films, various roles on the telly, an autobiography, and the touring of course which he’s kept up, plus albums from roughly the nineties onwards. He was awarded an MBE in 2008.

2. There was an established tradition in the US of artists associated with rockˈnˈroll covering oldies. The great Fats Domino who predates the others was at it from the early days. He even cut his own Darktown Strutters’ Ball in 1958 though I doubt whether Joe ever heard it. Little Richard, a big influence on British rockers, cut two oldies on his second album, Little Richard – By The Light Of The Silvery Moon and Baby Face. Elvis cut a few including I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (a Patti Page hit from 1950 which might not have been so old but it had the sound). Buddy Holly wasn’t overly prone to the “cutting oldies” habit but he did perform the 1905 song, Wait Till The Sun Shines Nellie on the Apartment Tapes.

Joe Brown poster 3

3. Alan Klein is an English singer/songwriter. Among other things, he wrote the sound track for the stage play and film What A Crazy World based on Joe’s single. Several of Alan’s recordings were made with record producer Joe Meek. He should not be confused with the American, Allen Klein, who managed the Rolling Stones and then took over management of the Beatles business affairs after the death of Brian Epstein.

Joe Brown poster 1

4. The tour I mentioned that played the Woolwich Granada on 31st October 1961, started on 17th October and went on until 3rd December. The trusty Bradford Timeline lists the following artists as appearing on the show: Billy Fury, Eden Kane, Joe Brown, the Karl Denver Trio, the Allisons, Tommy Bruce, Chas McDevitt & Shirley Douglas, Peter Jay & the Jaywalkers, Dave Sampson, The Viscounts, Gordon Peters, Terry Hale and Don Munday but it adds the caveat: “Some artists did not appear on all dates”. That’s as well because I don’t recall Fury being present (though I did see him in Brixton). And if some of those names towards the end of the list mean nothing to the reader – Terry Hale, Don Munday – I have to say that I’m in the same boat. The promoter for the tour was Larry Parnes and he called it “A Star Spangled Night”.

5. Mort Shuman was an American singer, pianist and songwriter known largely for his work with another American, Doc Pomus, as a song writing duo whose songs became hits from the late fifties to the mid/late sixties. Those hits included Love Roller Coaster (Joe Turner), A Teenager In Love (Dion & The Belmonts), This Magic Moment and Save The Last Dance For Me (The Drifters), A Mess Of Blues, Little Sister and more (Elvis), Sweets For My Sweet (Drifters/Searchers) and many more.

The song writing duo moved to London after the advent of the Brit Invasion but the partnership split up in 1965. Shuman then moved to Paris where he embarked on his own performing career in addition to continuing to write for several artists including Johnny Hallyday. He also wrote a few songs for UK artists in the mid/late sixties including Sha La La La Lee for the Small Faces.

6. To clarify that remark about the chart placing of A Picture Of You: it was #1 in the charts published by NME, Melody Maker and Disc & Music Echo but #2 in Record Retailer.

7. A Picture Of You was one of those records which started out as a flip; the A-side was A Lay-About’s Lament written by Alan Klein. However a DJ flipped it and started playing “Picture” and that was that.

Joe Brown photo 8

Joe with Susan Maughan and Marty Wilde on the set of “What A Crazy World” (1963) based on Alan Klein’s stage musical

8. In December 1959 (source for date: 45cat), another Brit rock wannabe, Marty Wilde, released the record It’s Been Nice which was written by Pomus and Shuman. This was the first recording of the song by anyone, or to put it another way, no one in the US had cut it prior to Marty. Given that Wilde was renowned as a covers artist, albeit one of the better ones, it was particularly noticeable that he’d recorded an original by US writers. Given also the fact that Wilde was a regular on the Boy Meets Girls show, it would seem highly likely that he got the song from the American pair of writers when they made the late 1959 UK visit that was mentioned in the main text. I should also add that the pairing of It’s Been Nice plus its flip, the self-penned Bad Boy was probably Marty’s best record and confirmation if it was needed, that there was good rock/pop music around in the UK prior to the appearance of the Beatles, just not a lot of it.

9. I have made brief mention of Joe’s prowess as an accompanying musician within the main text. I think there’s ample evidence of that skill set not having withered away in the clip below of his drummer singing Mystery Train in the Live In Liverpool DVD:

Tell you what, you ain’t half in for a treat now

 

Joe Brown People Gotta Talk

 

Joe Brown photo 2

(l to r): Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Joe Brown, John Leyton

 

Joe Brown poster 4

 

Joe Brown photo 10

(l to r): Gene Vincent, Joe Brown, Eddie Cochran

 

Joe Brown photo 6

3 guitar greats in 1977 (l to r): Joe Brown, Hank Marvin, Bert Weedon

 

Joe Brown photo 5

George Harrison with Joe’s Gibson guitar

 

 

 

The official Joe Brown website

Joe Brown Discography at 45cat

Joe Brown Official YouTube Channel

Joe Brown biography (Apple Music)

 

Peter Oakman official website
Peter left the Bruvvers in December 1963 and got a phone call from Lonnie Donegan which started his long involvement with him which sadly ended when Lonnie passed away in November 2002. Peter is now in the Swinging Blue Jeans.

 

Sam Brown official website

 

Dave Stephens is the author of two books on popular music. His first, “RocknRoll”, is described by one reviewer as “probably the most useful single source of information on 50s & 60s music I’ve come across”. Dave followed this up with “London Rocks” in 2016, an analysis of the early years of the London (American) record label in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @DangerousDaveXX

Read the Toppermosts of some of the other artists mentioned in this post:
Beatles, Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran, Leonard Cohen, Fats Domino, Lonnie Donegan, Drifters, Ian Dury, Duane Eddy, Georgie Fame, Billy Fury, Don Gibson, Ronnie Hawkins, Levon Helm, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Lovin’ Spoonful, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Rolling Stones, Richard Thompson, Big Joe Turner, Gene Vincent

TopperPost #823

9 Comments

  1. David Lewis
    Nov 29, 2019

    The Ted Mulry Gang, one of Australia’s legendary pub bands from the seventies did ‘Darktown Strutters Ball’. I wonder if they got the idea from Joe rather than older recordings.

    • Dave Stephens
      Nov 29, 2019

      Could be but I note that they don’t pick up the changed words in the Brown version.

      • David Lewis
        Nov 29, 2019

        That’s true. It’s a great song. Have you read ‘Spreading Rhythm Around’ by David Jasen & Gene Jones which goes into details of the song? It’s on black songwriters of tin pan alley.

        • Dave Stephens
          Dec 2, 2019

          No, hadn’t heard of it before. Just looked it up though and looks like one to add to the list.

  2. Peter Viney
    Nov 29, 2019

    More on Ronnie Hawkins: Ronnie flew to England to appear on the TV show Boy Meets Girl. with Marty Wilde, Adam Faith, Billy Fury and The Vernons Girls. At the time he was under the same management as both Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. Due to musician’s union rules he was unable to take The Hawks with him, but he managed to make an exception for Levon Helm, who accompanied him on the trip. Hawkins played with a pick-up band that included Joe Brown.
    Ronnie Hawkins: I didn’t think that the English cats would be able to play Memphis-style, but they were really into it. They even got the ‘boo-hoo’ in Southern Love. Joe Brown was part of the band. He was a young cockney kid with a brush haircut and I said, ‘Joe, with your accent and your looks you could be a real asset to my band. He decided to stay here (in Britain). (Record Collector Jan 1987)

    • Dave Stephens
      Nov 29, 2019

      Thanks for that quote Peter. It ties in neatly with the Brown version.

      • Peter Viney
        Nov 30, 2019

        Southern Love from “Boy Meets Girl” is available on a Rockstar CD “Boy Meets Girls: TV Shows Vol. 1” – it’s a bonus track, from 30 January 1960. The band included Joe Brown, Cherry Wainer on organ and backing from The Vernons Girls. Levon Helm drummed, getting through the rules as “Band leader.”

  3. Andrew Shields
    Nov 30, 2019

    Great Toppermost Dave on an underrated artist. Is it just me or is there a vague Ian-Duryish feel on some of his early records?
    Joe’s version of ‘Dimming of The Day’ – a song which of course has Irish origins – is lovely. And here is Iarla Ó Lionáird doing a lovely version of the Irish song on which ‘Dimming’ is based. In English, the title is ‘The Dawning of The Day’. The melody was also used for ‘Raglan Road’.

    • Dave Stephens
      Dec 2, 2019

      Iarla Ó Lionáird and Steve Cooney: beautiful. And, yes, there are definitely comparison points between JB and Ian Dury. The latter also had a soft spot for first generation rock’n’roll, note “Sweet Gene Vincent”.

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