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Fannie Mae - The Best of Buster Brown

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Album Review

Buster Brown's main claim to fame was a lone single that hit the charts in 1960 called “Fannie Mae.” Brown recorded it at the age of 48 for Harlem’s Fire Records. The track hit jukeboxes hard and spurred on the newly emerging dance-oriented teenage rock & roll audience as well as veteran followers of blues and R&B — styles that were seriously on the wane commercially — to seek it out and request it on radio stations throughout the South and on the East Coast. Brown scored a couple of minor hits in the two years that followed in "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" and “Sugar Babe,” and recorded an LP. He recorded afterwards, but nothing stuck and he could be seen locally playing bars. The 21 tracks on this Fuel Label Group release include “Fannie Mae” and all of his Fire singles as well as three cuts from his LP; the completely unissued “No More” (influenced by both Little Richard and Fats Domino); alternates of his hit and “Gonna Raise a Ruckus Tonight”; and his lone Gwenn side, “Broadway on Fire.” For blues collectors, this is as much Brown as you are going to find in one place. The historical liner essay by Bill Dahl is excellent and puts Brown’s unlikely, brief career into perspective. That said, these sides retain their spark more than four decades later, and offer a portrait of a man who had the ambition and the chops, but simply didn’t get the rest of the breaks he needed to transition from one-hit wonder to major star because time itself was against his succeeding in a genre that had seen its heyday nearly a decade before. For this price — or any other — and what it offers, this collection cannot be beat.


Born: 15 August 1911 in Cordele, GA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Whooping blues harpists nearing the age of 50 with number one R&B hits to their credit were predictably scarce in 1959. Nevertheless, that's the happy predicament Buster Brown found himself in when his infectious "Fannie Mae" paced the charts. Even more amazingly, the driving number made serious inroads on the pop airwaves as well. The Georgian, whose harp style was clearly influenced by Sonny Terry, had never made a professional recording (there was a 1943 Library of Congress session that laid...
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Fannie Mae - The Best of Buster Brown, Buster Brown
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