Charles Brown

Let's Have a Ball

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Charles Brown's smooth, West Coast blues sound of the '40s and '50s was similar to Nat Cole's own streamlined style. Brown's velvety vocal tone and fluid piano playing provided an alternative to the rawer performances on Chicago blues records and eventually inspired R&B singers like Johnny Ace and Sam Cooke. The out of print Brown title Let's Have a Ball is a fine showcase of his unique talent and a nice B-sides companion to EMI's Aladdin hits collection, Driftin' Blues. The 17 tracks here were all recorded in Los Angeles between 1945-1961 (some with his usual trio, Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, and some with expanded outfits featuring horns). The album not only contains a few of Brown's more famous numbers, like "In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down," but also rare cuts such as "It's Nothing" and "Tonight I'm Alone." There is a nice variety of styles here as well, like the blues swinger "Soothe Me," a doo wop style number called "My Little Baby," and the mambo novelty "Hot Lips and Seven Kisses." With his assured and even vocal phrasing, Brown handles all the tracks here with aplomb. To get all the tracks on both Let's Have a Ball and Driftin' Blues, along with all the rest of Brown's Aladdin and Philo sides, order Mosaic Record's mammoth box set. If you just want a good introduction to Brown's music, though, get the EMI disc and keep looking in the used record bins for a copy of the excellent Let's Have a Ball.