Charles Brown, The Classic Earliest Recordings

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Excellent early recordings from the master of cocktail blues.

Charles Brown's intimate, silky vocals are no more crucial to his postwar "cocktail blues" sound than his beautifully complementary piano work; what's easy to overlook is that even when he's adding baroque classical and pop flourishes, the deep blue feeling is always there. Though disc 1 of this 5-disc set contains his calling card "Drifting Blues," #3 offers the greatest bounty overall. Whether he's being playful ("Huggin 'Bug") or down and out ("Lonesome Blues"), updating an oldie ("St. Louis Blues") or celebrating contemporary culture ("Bobby Sox Blues"), Brown's intensity remains spellbinding.