Week 38: Lovely, Baby!
Welcome to Week 38, or what’s left of it anyway! :¬)
Yesterday I was almost done with an extensive write-up for something completely different, when our old friend and collaborator Paros sent me a fresh rip of Alex Brown’s 1970 album “In Search Of Love”, which had me changing my game plan at once!
This damn album is so rare it doesn’t even really exist…only promotional copies are in circulation, since this recording for the Sundi Records label never was released properly. The last time a copy of this LP showed up in an online auction, it was sold for $564…and the 7″ release off the album, “I’m Not Responsible”, has been sold for the staggering sum of $1225!!! So before going any further, we gonna stop right here and offer you a truly golden listening experience – let’s have a quick listen to what kind of music you get for that kind of money:
Just plain lovely music, right!? This track, and seven more of them on the album, was written by Alex herself together with Monk Higgins, who also handled the production and the arrangements on the album – with the able help of top notch session musicians such as Wilton Felder and Joe Sample.
OK…so who is this Alex Brown? Well, according to The Soul Guy, in the late 60’s Alex (or rather Alexandra) was one of the Raelettes, Ray Charles designated backing vocal girl group…but during this time, for some odd reason, renamed Brandi Alexander by Joe Adams, Ray’s manager.
Later she went on to become one of both Stevie Wonders and Diana Ross long-time background singers…but that’s not all – her list of credits over at AMG is breathtaking…just have a look at this and this right here…she has worked with all the greats; Norman Connors, Quincy Jones, Bill Withers, Leon Ware and Anita Baker (for whom Alex also wrote the 1988 hit “Just Because“) – just to mention a few!
But in the early 70’s, it was all about Alex Brown and Monk Higgins! Alex was in on both of Monk’s classic 1972 albums on United Artists, “Heavyweight” and “Little Mama”…co-writing most of the songs and handling all vocal arrangements. Both of the albums have been sampled heavily…think Big Dady Kane’s “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” from 1988, but also The Dust Brothers, who sampled some for Beck’s “Hotwax” on the “Odelay” album from 1996.
In 1975, Monk Higgins and Alex Brown also wrote the soundtrack to the Pam Grier flick “Sheba, Baby”! OK, so it’s not one of Pam’s finest moments, but the score is nothing short of fantastic – definitely one of my favourites in the Blaxploitation genre…with a fabulous theme song sung by Barbara Mason…just listen to this! If you don’t already own it, do yourself a favour and pick it up! (If it’s not already on the blogs, I’ll rip my copy…definitely worth a post of it’s own!)
Unfortunately for all of us, the 1970 LP “In Search Of Love” is Alex Brown’s only solo album. She tried once more in the mid-80’s, with the semi-succesful single “(Come On) Shout”, featured on the soundtrack for the chick flick “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”…damn, 1985 was a scary year – have a look here, if you got the stomach for it!
I’d rather remember Alex for this week’s featured album…10 perfectly lovely songs, all sweet and mellow – and definitely rare enough! The cuts “I’m Not Responsible”, “China Doll” and “I’m In Love” are my personal favourites…but Alex’s rendition of The Beatles “Something” is a keeper as well! Keep looking for this album…not for sale anywhere right now, but keep an eye open right here – you never know, you just might get lucky one day!
Big thanks to Paros for the grand gesture, but first and foremost, Alex Brown – thank you for the music!
(Ps. I’m still switching things up a bit regarding the 4BB beat intro on the downloads – this week features CraigB’s entry in the 4BB Beat Competition of 2008. More info on the upcoming competition will follow shortly. Right now I’m kept busy hunting for sponsors for this years grand prize…it will be something special for sure! :¬)