Joe Brown

The Joe Brown Story

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The Joe Brown Story is the definitive Brown collection, with two CDs and 50 songs spanning 1959-1967, including all ten of the British chart hits he rang up during that period. Brown definitely holds a spot as one of the most important pre-Beatles British rock performers, but that's a pretty relative distinction. This compilation makes for a very erratic listening experience, veering from unbearably hokey music hall-style novelties and ethnic-flavored instrumentals to average country-flavored pop tunes and some -- not an immense amount -- of flat-out rock & roll. Brown was a good guitarist, but his vocals often leaned toward the self-consciously humorous (and not all that funny) side, and his material was not terribly strong. You could have sliced this in half without losing much, making sure to retain the highlights. Those would include his most famous hit, "A Picture of You," which the Beatles covered (with George Harrison on lead vocals) in 1962 on one of their first BBC performances; "Your Tender Look," translated and covered with greater effect in France by Fran├žoise Hardy; "Sally Ann" and "Everybody Calls Me Joe," which have more swagger than most of his singles; and, if only for its historical interest, his rocked-up "I'm Henrery [sic] the Eighth I Am," which predated Herman's Hermits' hit rock rendition of that tune by four years. The comprehensive liner notes will be of particular value to American listeners, few of whom are likely to be familiar with his career.

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