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Miss Rhythm

Ruth Brown

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Album Review

Ruth Brown's second LP is a minor masterpiece, built around a handful of hit singles and B-sides from the prior year ("Book of Lies," "Just Too Much," "When I Get You Baby," "This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'," "Why Me") and containing a pair of current single sides, "Jack O' Diamonds" and "I Can't Hear a Word You Say." Brown is amazing in her range, from the upbeat, romantic "I Hope We Meet (On the Road Someday)" to the jaunty shouter "Why Me" — her timbre ranges from sweetly romantic to hard and raspy, and listening to the transformations, between the smooth, quick tempo "Just Too Much" to the hard, lusty "Somebody Touched Me," one thinks of a distaff Sam Cooke. Brown's accompaniments may have lacked the polish of Cooke's sides, and she wasn't really shooting for pop-crossover success (though she saw some). Her singing even overcomes excessively pop-oriented arrangements on "When I Get You Baby." At various times, in her upper register, Brown recalls Clyde McPhatter's falsetto singing, while in her middle and lower registers, as on "I Can't Hear a Word You Say," she comes up with a power that could melt a microphone stand.

Biography

Born: 12 January 1928 in Portsmouth, VA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

They called Atlantic Records "the house that Ruth built" during the 1950s, and they weren't referring to the Sultan of Swat. Ruth Brown's regal hitmaking reign from 1949 to the close of the '50s helped tremendously to establish the New York label's predominance in the R&B field. Later, the business all but forgot her — she was forced to toil as domestic help for a time — but she returned to the...
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Miss Rhythm, Ruth Brown
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