Bobby Brown


Band members                              Related acts

- Bobby Brown -- vocals, multi-instrumentalist

   

 

 

- none known

 

 


 

Genre: bizarre

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Enlightening Beam of Axonda

Company: Destiny

Catalog: DR 4002

Year: 1972

Country/State: Sacramento, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6060

Price: $60.00

Cost: $66.00

 

Bobby Brown stands as a shining example of a California musical eccentric.  By the way, that's meant as a heartfelt compliment, rather than a slam.

 

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, by the early 1970s Brown was making a living as a one man band, playing up and down the California coast.  As shown on the front cover, his act included an impressive home-made rig that contained some 50 instruments that were placed on racks that could be easily loaded and unloaded from a van.  Brown would apparently cruise up and down the coast, stopping to play concerts for folks, selling copies of his albums from the back of his van.

 

So what's Brown's 1972 self-produced debut sound like?  Well, as you probably guessed from the title, "The Enlightening Beam of Axonda" is pretty spacey, but in a surprisingly laidback and agreeable fashion.  Brown had a nice voice (technically I think he'd be called a basso-profundo), that lent itself well to atmospheric tracks such as 'I Must Be Born', 'My Hawaiian Home' and 'Mama Knows Boys a Rambler'.  (Brown's liner notes claimed he had a six octave range.)  Lyrically Brown's hippy-dippy lyrics were pretty hysterical (here's brief quote from the liner notes: "an original contribution to the field of religion and science based on physics - to my knowledge not yet discovered by other humanoids-more revolutionary that Einsteins (sic) revelations or Newtonian physics - the application of this physics will perhaps (in fact) lead to the most significant changes in the history of humanity (plus total religious unity)."  Complete with between-the-songs narratives, the album almost qualifies as a concept piece with a plotline apparently having to do with Brown's search for fulfillment, though I'm not quite sure how the space aliens and space travel fit into the storyline (?),  That said, be warned that nothing here exactly rocks. Most of the ten tracks are quite melodic, tough in a new age kind of way.  In fact, stuff such as 'Tiny Wind of Shanol' and 'Axonda' would be right at home playing as background music in something like the Nature Store.  There are a couple of exceptions.  'Mamba Che Chay' was pretty experimental and did little for my ears, while 'Preparation Dimension of Heaven' sounded like a bad lounge act effort.  Still, the set's goofy enough to be intriguing.  


"The Enlightening Beam of Axonda" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) I Must Be Born   (Bobby Brown) - 

2.) My Hawaiian Home   (Bobby Brown) - 

3.) Mama Knows Boys a Rambler   (Bobby Brown) - 

4.) Mamba Che Chay   (Bobby Brown) - 

5.) Oneness with the Forest   (Bobby Brown) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Tiny Wind of Shanol   (Bobby Brown) - 

2.) Brat   (Bobby Brown) - 

3.) Axonda   (Bobby Brown) - 

4.) Going On Through   (Bobby Brown) - 

5.) Preparation Dimension of Heaven   (Bobby Brown) - 


This is apparently one of the earlier pressing.  You can tell by the back cover which says additional copies of the LP are available for $5.00.  The more recent the pressing, the more expensive the cost.  Hey, he was available for parties, weddings and concerts - call 1 916 372 3176 (seriously, the phone number is 30 years old so don't try it ...)

 

Seeing Brown live must have been quite an experience.  I can only wonder how his eccentric catalog would have gone over with a beach crowd.  Anyone out there ever see him in person?    

 

 



Genre: bizarre

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Live

Company: Destiny

Catalog: DR-4001

Year: 1978

Country/State: Sacramento, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: writing on back cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6061

Price: $60.00

 

 

Selected as the opening act for a Fleetwood Mac/Kenny Loggins concert at the University of California Berkley, Brown originally planned to release the results as a live set. Unhappy with the resulting tapes (the crowd noises were apparently distracting), he piled his recording equipment into a van, drove to a local beach and recorded nine tracks in front of a curious and somewhat mystified crowd (love the back cover pictures). Released in 1978, "Live" wasn't half bad. Recorded without postproduction adornment you had to admit the guy had a great voice. Sure, as a one man band the sound was occasionally a bit thin, but you had to admire Brown's earnestness; 'Hawaii' and 'Mother Nature We're Guilty' echoing his deep seated ecological concerns. On the other hand, dog lovers were bound to get a kick out of 'My Dog Is Every Bit As Good As Me'. Spread across two sides, the material started to sound alike and Brown had an irritating habit of stretching his voice. Check out the bizarre performance on 'Motherless Child').  Still, for a vanity project it wasn't bad. (By the way, you could order additional copies at $6.35 a pop - not a bad deal, though the price has subsequently gone up.)

"Live" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hawaii   (Bobby Brown) -
2.) In Search of a Dream   (Bobby Brown) - 
3.) Let Me On Board   (Bobby Brown) - 
4.) My Dog Is Every Bit As Good As Me   (Bobby Brown) - 


(side 2)

1.) The Waterfall of Love   (Bobby Brown) - 
2.) Lonely Boy No More   (Bobby Brown) - 
3.) Mother Nature We're Guilty   (Bobby Brown) - 
4.) I Don't Want To Be No Macho Joe   (Bobby Brown) - 

 

And sure enough, someone stumbled on to my small write-up and actually saw the man !!!  Thanks for the description Ms. Conboy ...

 

 

Hi there,
 
I unearthed my old vinyl and found a Bobby Brown "Live" record I bought in 1978 from Bobby.  I did a search and came across your site.  I had no idea that one of his records was re-released a few years ago, yet there seems to be no indication of his whereabouts.   I hung onto the record thinking he probably came and went. 
 
Anyway you asked if anyone saw him live.  I saw him perform, I believe at a swap meet in La Mirada, California and he was quite amazing.  I was very into playing guitar at the time and he was playing this funny musical contraption much like the photo on the right back side of his album.  Getting this amazing sound, and his vocals were interesting.  I just put the record on the other day and now after having worked with several Hawaiian and world musicians, as I used to publicize a Hawaiian festival, I really understand what he's doing.  At the time I was just amazed by the sound he was getting.   It was also unique to be able to, back then, actually buy a record from a musician who wasn't well known, what we now know as "indie."   So, that was a plus to be able to buy his record from him, that he signed for me.  For some reason I thought he was blind, or he just closed his eyes as if in trance when he performed.  Differently than just someone singing while they were stoned.  
 
So, just thought I'd share that. 
 
Kind regards,
Teresa Conboy

October, 2008

 


9.) Motherless Child (traditional - arranged by Bobby Brown) - 


Genre: bizarre

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Prayers of a One Man Band

Company: Destiny

Catalog: DR-2002

Year: 1982

Country/State: Sacramento, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5546

Price: $75.00

 

Perhaps because they were recorded in the mid-1970s, the first two Bobby Brown albums (no I'm not talking about Whitney Houston's former husband), are the ones that seem to get all of the attention and coverage.  That's unfortunate since 1982's "Prayers of a One Man Band" may be the best and most enjoyable of Brown's albums.  Like the others, this was a one man project with Brown responsible for writing, performing and producing all twelve tracks.  It was also released on his own Destiny label with most copies being sold at his impromptu performances.  In addition to a priceless picture of Brown's homegrown multi-instrumental contraption, his considerable charms including a multi-octave voice, a knack for penning catchy (if goofy) songs (check out 'The Boy a Sailor' and 'Hawaii Net I'll Miss You'), and a likeable counter-cultural outlook on life, were all on display.  Musically the set sounded a little fuller and more sophisticated than the two earlier releases (perhaps a reflection of the fact it was recorded across nine separate studios).  The other difference I detected is Brown's mix of personal insight and social and political commentary shifted towards a more activist stance including commentary on animal rights ('If the Angels Cry'), environmental ('Sweet Clean Air'), and social and political issues.  His voice certainly remained an amazing instrument, capable of replicating Beach Boys-styled harmonies and even turning in a wild Tony Joe White swamp rock segment (check out 'Jungle Cowboy'). That said, the set his a slow spot across the first half of side two.   Still, strange enough to be interesting.  Besides, how could you not get a charge out of somebody who was willing to dedicate an album to: "To the people that watched me ad-lib these songs into their shape on the street corners of the world, a lot of your energy went into helping me select and refine my music and message. To say something that tries to improve the condition of our world may come off as sounding preachy, but if the magic and your love can be found in my attempt, it comes off as right by me.  Thanks for thousands of perfect moments."

"Prayers of a One Man Band" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Boy a Sailor    (Bobby Brown) - 3:11   rating: **** stars

I'm a product of the late '70s and the breezy opener 'The Boy of a Sailor' captures that timeframe in my mind.  Showcasing Brown's surprisingly impressive voice and weird new-age instrumentation, the song fell somewhere on the musical spectrum between Merrell Fankhauser and one of those MOR act that might have appeared on The Merv Griffin Show, or the Dinah Shore Show.  Yeah, with a nice, hummable melody, your grandma would probably dig this one.  

2.) Steamboat Mama    (Bobby Brown) - 2:50   rating: **** stars

Every time I hear Brown's growling spoken word intro, 'Steamboat Mama' reminds me of the late Tony Joe White.  And then the song heads of into Lindsey Buckingham at-his-strangest territory.  Complete with country-hoedown influences, falsetto shrieks and a pro-environmental wink, luckily I like Buckingham, so this one scored pretty high on my scale.

3.) Sail On    (Bobby Brown) - 3:02   rating: **** stars

I'll admit the ballad 'Sail On' didn't initially register with me, but after a couple of spins I found the darn thing bouncing around my mental playlist.  Elvis-meets-the-Beach Boys ...

4.) Lady Tennessee    (Bobby Brown) - 3:00   rating: * star

Brown trotting out his worst "Elvis the lounge act" moves.  'Lady Tennessee" was the album's first mis-step. Sounding like he was singing with marbles in his cheeks, this one was a real stinker.

5.) Jungle Cowboy    (Bobby Brown) - 3:10  rating: ** stars

'Jungle Cowboy' was a return Tony Joe White for the opener with a return to Buckingham-styled goofiness.  The lyrics were totally strange, though lines like "lady all over your body I wanna run little electric cars/and where you're the most nasty//the most filthy/I wanna give you something hotdoodle whomp bomp"

6.) Hawaii Nei I'll Miss You    (Bobby Brown) - 3:40   rating: **** stars

The slinky ballad 'Hawaii Nei I'll Miss You' was another track that just kind of snuck up on you and wouldn't leave.


(side 2)

1.) The Peaceful Ko'olaus    (Bobby Brown) - 2:56  rating: ** stars

Unfortunately lounge act Elvis reappears on the ballad 'The Peaceful Ko'olaus'.  Brown manages to turn out some strange sounds on his oddball instrument.

2.) My Dog the Outlaw    (Bobby Brown) - 3:19   rating: *** stars

One of the stranger songs on the album ...  I kept waiting for the tune to actually take off, but it never shifted gears, though Brown's vocals got increasingly anxious.  I'm guessing the title referred to the dog that appeared on the cover of "The Enlightening Beam of Axonda".

3.) If the Angels Cry    (Bobby Brown) - 3:12   rating: *** stars

Hum, based on the introductory spoken word section, Brown has been quite attached to his recently deceased dog.  Nice song to hear the range Brown had ...

4.) Sweet Clean Air    (Bobby Brown) - 3:52   rating: *** stars

Hum, based on the introductory spoken word section, Brown has bee

The intro wasn't the most subtle dig at the car industry you've ever heard, but probably wasn't that far off target. Shame the song wasn't as much fun as the intro, though I'll give Brown an extra star for having his heart in the right spot.

5.) I'm Believe    (Bobby Brown) - 2:58   rating: **** stars

Hum, let's mix in a few African rhythms and see what happens ...  Well, it served to wake you up after a couple of plodding tunes.  

6.) Cry of the Wild    (Bobby Brown) - 2:44  rating: **** stars

'Cry of the Wild' brought all of Brown's strengths together - nice, bouncy melody; quirky soundscapes; and that freaky, incredible versatile voice.  One of the album standouts.

 

 

 

 

 

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