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Chicken Fat

Mel Brown

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Album Review

Guitarist Mel Brown is hailed as "An Impulse! Discovery" on Chicken Fat, his debut for the label, and this album does feature a fantastic unique sound. Brown played in the bands of T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker, and has an aggressive (though not harsh) single-string picking style. For this date he is paired with either Herb Ellis or Arthur Wright on guitar, Gerald Wiggins on organ, and Brown's regular rhythm section of Paul Humphrey on drums and Ronald Brown on electric bass. There are a couple tracks that are played as pretty straight blues, but this is a hoppin' soul-jazz date. The tunes are bouncy and funky, and Brown's playing is a real treat. His bluesy, almost reckless soloing gives a vastly different flavor that the playing of guys like Grant Green or Melvin Sparks. Gerald Wiggins' organ playing is cool and swinging, and the electric bass of Ronald Brown makes this album about as funky as Impulse ever got. Both Herb Ellis and Arthur Wright get some solo space as well, with Ellis sounding quite interesting playing an unamplified 12-string on a couple cuts. Brown gets some nice tones as well, and on "Hobo Flats" plays "an electronic guitar with Wah-Wah distortion" (remember, this is 1967 jazz) "that gives a weird shimmering sound," according to the liner notes. Leave it to Impulse! to put a new spin on the guitar/organ sound. This is hot stuff.

Biography

Born: 07 October 1939 in Jackson, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Best known for his decade-plus stint in support of Bobby "Blue" Bland, Mel Brown channeled elements of soul, funk, and jazz to create one of the most distinctive guitar styles in contemporary blues. Born October 7, 1939, in Jackson, MS, Brown received his first guitar at the age of 14 while battling meningitis, spending hours each day studying the music of idols like B.B. King and T-Bone Walker from his sickbed. His father, John Henry "Bubba" Brown, a gifted amateur guitarist who often backed Delta...
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Chicken Fat, Mel Brown
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