The Complete Hits
I’m always pleasantly surprised by the product Collector’s Choice puts out — they have a real knack for finding lost gems like The Browns. This country trio was a huge deal in the ’50s, yet seems relatively ignored by the recent renaissance in old school country and gospel that occupies so many Saturday morning slots on college stations across the land.
The Browns hailed form Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and consisted of Jim Edward Brown and his sisters Ella, Maxine, and Bonnie. They got their start with Fabor Records, a label known mostly for discovering and losing greats like Jim Reeves and Johnny Horton. From Fabor, this family group made the leap to the Louisiana Hayride, a strong competitor with the Grand Ole Opry. They eventually found their greatest success with a 1930s old Swiss ballad, “The Three Bells.”
There are 21 cuts on this disc, all featuring a wonderful lo-fi sound that reminds you of listening to shellac 78s played through an old Emerson radio. Lyrics tend toward the sappy, but the harmonies and vocals are so beautiful you’ll forgive the sentimentality. This is the real deal — country before country turned to rock and roll, and from a day when a country song on the pop charts was a real novelty. The Browns are charmingly innocent in our jaded world, and are not to be missed.
Collector’s Choice: www.collectorschoicemusic.com