Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown Rocks

Following on from the recent addition of Frank Virtue and The Virtues to their expansive Rocks series, Bear Family Records have compiled a selection of recordings by Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown for another entry. Containing a whopping twenty nine tracks recorded between 1947 and 1960 for Aladdin and Peacock; Is this latest offering worth picking up?

Firstly, this reviewer can admit they had never heard of this artist before getting their hands on this compilation. I had read little bits and pieces on Brown, hearing of his individuality in many areas. Intrigued by this, I was excited to get the chance to review this collection.

Brown, from reading, was never an artist to stay in one place. This is evident over the course of this compilation, as he makes his way through genres including Blues, Jazz, Swing and Rhythm and Blues. Focusing on the ‘faster’ side of his recording material, Brown’s electricity never falters for a second. Backed by horns, piano and light drums, it is Brown’s unique guitar tone and style that stand above all else. This reviewer’s highlights include Boogie Rambler, Rock My Blues Away, Pale Dry Boogie, (Parts 1 and 2) Gate Walks To Board, Just Before Dawn (Excellent violin from Brown) and Gatemouth Boogie. As a side note, Brown’s harmonica performance on Gate’s Salty Blues really swings!

Lastly, Brown’s vocal style will not be for everybody, but it is filled with raw Blues energy that screams out of the speakers.

Sound Quality

Given the conditions that these recordings would have been made in, the sound is remarkably clean on most tracks. Some, sourced from less than ideal sources, do contain a degree of hiss, but not enough to destroy the enjoyment. Other occurrences, such as overloaded vocals, are nothing more than a product of their time. Overall, this is possibly the best way to hear these recordings.

A Little Something Extra:

Like many of the other entries in this series, the album is presented in an attractive tri-fold digipak. The CD comes with a 36 page booklet featuring a biography written by Chicago music historian and blues expert Bill Dahl. Also included are a huge selection of rare photographs and illustrations, finished off with a discography. To say the biography is extensive is an understatement, I would describe it perfect for fans and novices (like me) alike.

Conclusion:

Another excellent entry in this long-running series that continues to celebrate rocking artists; Known and obscure. Twenty-Nine tracks on a single CD provides exceptional value for the consumer, providing a broad overview of the faster side of Clarence Gatemouth Brown’s early material. Some fans eager to hear Brown’s extensive later catalogue will be disappointed, but this seems like a good starting point for discovery.

Track Listing:

  1. Okie Dokie Stomp
  2. Baby Take It Easy
  3. Pale Dry Boogie – Part 1
  4. Without Me Baby
  5. I Live My Life
  6. Too Late Baby
  7. Mary Is Fine
  8. Boogie Uproar
  9. She Walk Right In
  10. Just Got Lucky
  11. Midnight Hour
  12. Ain’t That Dandy
  13. Boogie Rambler
  14. You Got Money
  15. Gate Walks To Board
  16. Pale Dry Boogie – Part II
  17. Hurry Back Good News
  18. It Can Never Be That Way
  19. Gatemouth Boogie
  20. Gate’s Salty Blues
  21. She Winked Her Eye
  22. Stop Time
  23. That’s Your Daddy Yaddy Yo
  24. Atomic Energy
  25. Depression Blues
  26. Dirty Work At The Crossroads
  27. Just Before Dawn
  28. Swingin’ The Gate
  29. Rock My Blues Away

Clarence Gatemouth Brown Rocks is available from Bear Family Records.

Clarence Gatemouth Brown

7.5

Rating

7.5/10

Jamie Dyer

Jamie Dyer is an experienced writer, broadcaster, musician and social media marketer. He enjoys Old Time Radio, vintage TV, collecting vinyl and supporting the New York Knicks.

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