Nappy Brown,
Long Time Coming
(Blind Pig, 2007)

What is it with these old soul singers? Ray Charles got progressively better till he passed on, Solomon Burke is in his 70s and is greater than at any time in his past, and now Nappy Brown -- who started out as one of the pioneers of rhythm and blues, recording singles for Savoy in the mid-1950s -- just made the best album of his career.

Instead of aging, Brown's voice just gets younger and younger. It's more supple and smooth now than it was back when he was one of the Golden Crowns, the gospel group he joined when he was 16. He first recorded "Don't Be Angry" in 1955 and on this CD, recorded 52 years later, he records it again and cuts his own early performance.

For this record, Brown has surrounded himself with some of the finest young blues musicians working today: Bob Margolin and Junior Watson play guitars, while Mookie Brill contributes bass and Harmonia, while Jimmy Pugh's Hammond B-3 playing is a highlight. The big question is, who is inspiring who here? Is the band giving Brown new energy or is his presence moving them to play their best? Or is it an interaction of the two? No matter. Listening to the album, you get the feeling that all the energy in the studio must have been enough to generate a month of power to a major city.

If you want to hear fine rhythm and blues sung by a master at the very top of his game, you're going to want to pick up Long Time Coming.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

16 February 2008

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