Western Swing Chronicles, Volume 1 Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies


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In the formative years of western swing, Milton Brown & his Musical Brownies was the busiest and most popular musical act in the Southwest. Brown was so far ahead of his time that the style he helped create didn’t have a name until the mid-1940s, by which time Bob Wills had picked up where Milton left off. Brown died in 1936 and was quickly forgotten, due in part to his having recorded at the depth of the Depression, when few records were sold.

Milton Brown combined black and white musical styles and brought them into country music some twenty years before Elvis Presley did the same thing. In one of his last reviews, the late Robert Palmer said: “It would be no exaggeration to call the Brownies one of the most important, and most unjustly obscure, of the predecessors and forefathers of rock and roll. At the time, there was nobody to compare him to; the figure I’m repeatedly reminded of when listening to Brown’s impressive chops, natural feel, and inclusive stylistic grasp is Elvis Presley.”

Wanna Coffman pioneered the slapping bass in country music, a direct influence on Bill Black’s work with Elvis Presley twenty years later. Equally important was Brown’s hiring of Bob Dunn to play amplified steel guitar, who made it sound like the wail of Jack Teagarden’s trombone. Writer Nick Tosches likened it to the sound of “glass breaking against a stone wall.” It was that shattering. Dunn was influencing other guitarists to plug in even before Charlie Christian, Eddie Durham, and T-Bone Walker amplified their guitars in the Southwest. The Joe Venuti-influenced Cecil Brower and homegrown boy genius Cliff Bruner showed that there was more to country fiddling than just hoedowns.

Liner notes and discography by Brown biographer Cary Ginell

Track List

1)         Nancy Jane (1932) (Fort Worth Doughboys, with Bob Wills)

2)         Brownie’s Stomp (1934)

3)         Beale Street Mama (1936)

4)         St. Louis Blues (1935)

5)         Yes Sir! (1936)

6)         Taking Off (1935)

7)         Avalon (1936)

8)         Memphis Blues (1936)

9)         Easy Ridin’ Papa (1936)

10)         You’re Tired of Me (1935)

11)         Copenhagen (1935)

12)         Beautiful Texas (1935)

13)         Somebody’s Been Using That Thing (1936)

14)         This Morning, This Evening, So Soon (1934)

15)         An Old Water Mill by a Waterfall (1936)

16)         Going Up Brushy Fork (1935)

17)         In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree (1935)

18)         Sweet Georgia Brown (1935)

19)         Some of These Days (1935)

20)         Sweet Jennie Lee (1935)

21)         My Precious Sonny Boy (1934)

22)         “Ida” Sweet as Apple Cider (1936)

23)         Washington & Lee Swing (1936)

24)         Right or Wrong (1936)

25)         A Thousand Good Nights (1936)

Additional information

Weight .3125 lbs





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