Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, April 23, 2003
WILLIE BROWN, A SIDEMAN NO MORE....Standing in the shadow of the great CHARLEY PATTON in the pantheon of prewar Mississippi delta blues giants is his sometime guitar-playing sideman WILLIE BROWN, who is said to have learned his chops from Mr. Patton & who spilled them back out in 1930 on an absolutely classic pair of sides, "Future Blues" and "M&O Blues". I must have these tracks on at least 4 different compilations -- make that five with the release of the Patton box set on JSP Records, which tacks on quite a few outstanding numbers from his contemporaries. Compilers of the raw early blues (Yazoo & many others) obviously have a feel for these throaty, deeply felt & played numbers from Brown, who would certainly merit his own revered compilation if he'd have cranked out, say, 10-12 more songs. "Future Blues" has a skeletal, plucked, descending key guitar riff that is instantly recognizable, and while the playing is less flamboyant than Patton, the strangled vs. sweet voice of Brown is not. "M&O Blues" is a prototypical and top-shelf delta blues, with a languid and lazy feel pepped up by Brown's sing-songy delivery. Definitely among the best "one hit wonders" the genre has to offer.