Mel Brown's Fifth

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (19  

- Mel Brown (RIP 2009) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass


  supporting musicians (1970)

- John H. Brown -- vocals

- Tobie Butler -- sax

- Lorenzo Carnegie -- sax

- Clifford Coulter -- keyboards

- Jimmy Davis -- keyboards

- Onion Miller --sax

- Jeff Osborne -- drums, percussion

- Jake Riley -- sax

- Carle Vickers -- trumpet





- The Homewreckers

- Silent Partners

- Reuben Wilson & Tim Derreck Duo Plus Two





Genre: soul/jazz

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Mel Brown's Fifth

Company: ABC Impulse

Catalog:  AS 9209

Country/State: Jackson, Mississippi

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; top seam split 4"; punch hole bottom right

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $15.00

I'm simply going to lift Mel Brown's resume from the liner notes on 1971's "Mel Brown's Fifth."   By the way, yes it was his fifth studio album.   


"Mr. Melvin Brown who prefers to forget that he was once known as "Bubba" Brown, was born in Jackson, Mississippi (twenty-one miles from Brandon), October 7, 1938.  He began singing and playing the piano at the age of 3, adding in succeeding years accordion, harmonica, drums. bass, flute, Jew's harp, and guitar.   The young Mr. Brown made his television debut at the age of fourteen in Jackson, featured on the accordion with his brother Jim.  He moved to Los Angeles in 1956 but left upon discovering that his playing still made him nervous.  He returned to Mississippi, but was back on California in 1958 when he joined the Johnny Otis Band.  He worked with The Olympics and Etta James and did extensive studio recording.  His first featured record appearance was as a guest soloist on Oliver Nelson's Impulse Album "Live for Los Angeles (AS-9153), and he was immediately signed by the label, for who he has made five albums.  The younger Mr. Brown prefers to leave the writing of poems to his father since not every kind of soul is hereditarily  transmissible."


Produced by Ed Michael and recorded at various Los Angeles studios, the album featured a mixture of Brown originals and cover tunes.  Heavily instrumental, the collection almost came off as a career primer intent on showing Brown's diversity.  Written and sung by Brown's father John H. Brown, 'Seven Forty Seven (Airport Blues)' offered up a conventional and rather bland slice of electric blues.  Far more interesting was the fuzz guitar powered 'Cheap At Half the Price' and  the funk-tinged instrumentals like 'Time for a Change' and 'the extended 'Love Potion.'   That said, while Brown was a decent guitarist, the absence of vocals and anything coming  lose to a "jump out" tune meant this set just didn't register.  


"Mel Brown's Fifth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Time for a Change (instrumental)   (Bea Brown) - 2:54   rating: **** stars

Lordy !!!  In an era where music has seemingly become a technology undertaken in a studio and divorced from human participation, hearing the live 'Time for a Change' is startling.  A live studio jam, they may have had to record it 20 times, but boy did they get it right on the 21st take.  Stunning funk jam performance.

2.) Good Stuff  (instrumental)   (Mel Brown) - 2:26   rating: *** stars

The opener seams effortlessly into 'Good Stuff' and at least the only way to tell the difference is the horns come to the forefront injecting a more distinctive jazz feel into the jam - little bit of a BS&T flavor.  The good news is Brown's blazing guitar also got a chance to step into the spotlight.

3.) Seven Forty Seven (Airport Blues)   (John H. Brown - Bea Brown) - 4:43   rating: ** stars

A conventional electric blues instrumental, 'Seven Forty Seven (Airport Blues)' was co-written by Brown's father John H. Brown.   His Dad was also featured on the vocals.  The song was pleasant, but there wsnt anything here that you had not heard before.  The track also appeared on Brown's 1973 album "Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlins and Other Creasy Blues Specialties."

4.) Love Potion (instrumental)   (Mel Brown - Jimmy Davis - Jeff Osborne) - 10:22   rating: **** stars

And just when I thought I'd figured out Brown's game plan, along came the the instrumental 'Love Potion.  Opening up with some Atari "Space Invaders" and closing with clock sound effects, the next ten minutes offered up a bizarre but enjoyable hybrid of soul, jazz, and funky moves. Brown's lead guitar was deft and tuneful.  Imagine George Benson making a living playing Chitlin Circuit dive bars ...  An edited version of the song was released as a single:






- 1971's ''Love Potion' b/w 'Cheap At Half the Price' (Impulse catalog number IMP-280)






(side 2)

1.) Drifting Blues (instrumental)   (Johnny Moore - Eddie Williams - Charles Brown) - 7:20  rating: ** stars

Not sure why you would try to improve on the Charles Brown original ...

2.) Cheap At Half the Price (instrumental)   (Bea Brown) - 3:33   rating: *** stars

LOL -  the opening sounded a touch like Sesame Street theme covered by Booker T. and the MGs ...  Love Brown's fuzz guitar and tthe bass line on this one.

3.) Home Made (instrumental)   (Mel Brown) - 7:27  rating: ** stars

'Home Made' was another conventional slice of electric blues with some nice horn charts.  Brown's fuzz guitar was spotlighted and the results were again professional, but nothing you hadn't come across before.

4.) Gimme a Little Slack (instrumental)   (Mel Brown) - 0:26