Roy Brown is remembered as one of the most influential R&B singers of the post war years. He made a commercial breakthrough in the summer of 1948, with Good Rockin’ Tonight. Released on DeLuxe, Good Rockin’ Tonight it reached number five in the US R&B charts, and was a game-changer for Roy Brown.

From 1948, right through to 1953, Roy Brown was one of the most successful R&B singers. His singles were never far from the top of the US R&B charts. So, it’s no surprise that Roy Brown went on to influence a generation of artists.

Everyone from Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson right through to the King, Elvis Presley were influenced by Roy Brown. During this period, he was, without doubt, one of the most important figures in R&B. So it’s fitting that Ace Records celebrate the most successful period in Roy Brown’s career, which is documented on the recently released Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions.

Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions features the music Roy Brown released on DeLuxe between 1949 and 1950. This was the peak of Roy Brown’s career. Incredibly, he was only twenty-four at the start of this period.

Roy Brown had been born in New Orleans, on 10th September 1925. His mother was the director of a local church choir. She helped shape her son’s future career. However, when he left home music was the last thing on Roy’s mind.

Freed from the education system, Roy headed out on his own road trip. This was way before Jack Kerouc penned his classic novel, On The Road. Roy became a hobo, and headed to the West coast. That’s where Roy took up boxing.

That was a something of a volte face from Roy. Previously, he was somewhat queasy at the sight of blood. However, like many aspiring boxers, Roy overcame his phobia. Soon, he was shaping up to become a prizefighter. His win to loss ratio was enviable. It seemed that Roy had a future as a pugilist. Then his friend, and fellow boxer, Rudy Cruz heard Roy sing.

At Rudy’s insistence, Roy entered a talent contest in 1942. Roy won, singing Tex Ritter’s Jingle, Jangle, Jingle. It looked like Roy was going to change career. Then the war intervened.

Although Roy was called up, he was rejected for national service. So, he headed home to the Big Easy. 

Back in New Orleans, Roy found work in a dry cleaners. In the evenings, Roy entered talent contests. Before long, he decided to form his own band. By then, Roy was already writing songs. Roy’s career was up-and-running. However, it took off when he moved to Galveston, Texas. 

It was 1947, that Roy moved to Galveston. That’s where he recorded his debut single, Deep Sea Diver, with Bye Bye Baby on the flip side. It was released on Gold Star Records. This was the start of Roy’s career.

Around this time, Roy wrote the song he would become synonymous with, Good Rockin’ Tonight. He introduced this into his band’s set. However, Roy felt he couldn’t do the song justice. So, he asked trumpeter Wilbert Brown to sing the vocal. The song proved popular when Roy’s band played live. However, that was as good as it got. Roy decided he needed someone to cover Good Rockin’ Tonight.

When Wynonie Harris arrived in town, Roy went to see him. Roy auditioned the song for Wynonie Harris. This didn’t work. Wynonie Harris was more interested in sweet talking a local woman. So, rather than be humiliated, Roy decided to keep Good Rockin’ Tonight until Cecil Gant passed through Galveston.

The day Cecil Gant arrived in town, Roy went to see him at the Dew Drop Inn. Cecil agreed that the song had potential. However, rather than sing the song himself, Cecil got Roy to sing Good Rockin’ Tonight down the phone to Jules Braun. Little did Roy know he had just been auditioned, and passed with flying colours.

Two days later, Jules Braun arrived in town. Straight away, Jules agreed to sign Roy to DeLuxe Records. However, there was a but. The but was that Roy wrote songs of a similar standard to Good Rockin’ Tonight. This was no problem to Roy, a talented, up-and-coming songwriter. 

Very soon, Roy had written Lollypop Mama, Bar Room Blues and Long About Midnight. Roy Brown, R&B star and songwriter, had just been born. 

Now signed to DeLuxe, Roy set about recording his debut single. Good Rockin’ Tonight was chosen. It reached number five on the US R&B charts. This took time. Roy was still an unknown singer. So, it took several month for Good Rockin’ Tonight to climb the US R&B charts. However, it was worth the wait. Good Rockin’ Tonight gave Roy the breakthrough he craved. Ironically, his version of Good Rockin’ Tonight wasn’t the only version to chart. 

Ironically, the man who refused to even listen to Good Rockin’ Tonight decided to cover it. Belatedly, Wynonie Harris covered Good Rockin’ Tonight. Released at the same time as Roy’s, Wynonie’s cover was a bigger success than Roy’s original. Wynonie Harris’ version went all the way to number one on the US R&B charts in June 1948. Despite the success Roy and Wynonie enjoyed with Good Rockin’ Tonight, the music industry was at a standstill.

The story began six years ago, when many musicians found themselves unemployed. The best they could hope for was occasional session work. Part of the problem was the juke box. They replaced live bands. For musicians this was a disaster. Sadly, it was a taste of the way the entertainment industry was heading. After the juke box, came the DJ. Then it was downhill from there. Luckily, for American musicians in 1942, James Caesar Petrillo saw the what was about to happen and ensured that American musicians received a fair deal.

James Caesar Petrillo was in charge of the American Federation of Musicians. By 1942, he realised that in the past fifteen years, jukeboxes were replacing live music. This meant his members were either unemployed, or earning considerably less than before. He’d watched as jukeboxes replaced some live musicians. This could snowball. He didn’t want that. Nor did he want, the session musicians who played on transcription recording losing what was a regular and reliable source of income. The way to do that, was through a strike. So, James announced that a strike would take place from mid-July 1942.

Under the terms of the strike, no artists or group contracted to a record label, could record whilst the strike was on. Neither could session musicians play on recordings. This brought the music industry to its knees. Very few record companies had the foresight to have a back-catalogue consisting of unreleased music. So no music was released. The exception were crooners who sung unaccompanied. This didn’t prove particularly successful, unlike the strike. It lasted right through until November 1944. James Caesar Petrillo and the American Federation of Musicians were victors. Unfortunately, this victory proved short-lived and lead to another strike.

Under the terms of an agreement, American Federation of Musicians negotiated a fund for musicians whose livelihood had been affected by the arrival of the jukebox. A royalty was paid into the union fund. The more records sold, the more money was paid into the fund, which the union managed. Congress didn’t approve of this. They passed legislation banning unions managing their own funds, citing possible mismanagement of funds. When James Caesar Petrillo heard the news, he was livid and announced another strike, which would start on 1st January 1948. 

Nine months later, and the ban was over. Luckily, Roy Brown had recorded enough material to see him through the recording ban. Right through to Christmas 1948, Roy Brown was releasing material he had recorded in 1947, before the strike. This included Long About Midnight, which topped the US R&B charts on Christmas week 1948. For Roy Brown, this was the biggest single of his career. Things were looking good for Roy Brown.

In January 1949, Roy Brown returned to the recording studio. With his regular band in tow, Roy entered the studio. They cut seven of the songs on Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions. This includes four unreleased tracks, China Blues, Fanny Brown’s Wedding Day, Special Lesson #1 and a remake of Mighty Mighty Man. Judgement Day Blues, Rockin’ At Midnight and a remake of Miss Fanny Brown were all released in 1949. They’re just a few of the tracks on Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions.

There’s a total of twenty-four tracks on Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions. These tracks were recorded at sessions between September 1949 and June 1951. Many of the songs have never been released before. They make their debut on Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions, which features Roy Brown at the peak of his powers,.

The first of Roy Brown’s recording sessions took place on 20th September 1949. That day, Roy and his band recorded four tracks, Boogie At Midnight, The Blues Got Me Again, I Feel That Young Man’s Rhythm and End Of My Journey. They would become Roy’s next two singles. 

Boogie At Midnight, The Blues Got Me Again, I Feel That Young Man’s Rhythm and End Of My Journey. Boogie At Midnight was released as single in 1949, with The Blues Got Me Again on the flip side. As 1950 dawned,  I Feel That Young Man’s Rhythm was released as a single. End Of My Journey was chosen as the B-Side. However, by then Roy had been back in the studio.

Just like the last time, Roy and his band cut another four tracks. Butcher Pete Part 1, with Butcher Pete Part 2 was released as Roy’s next single. The other two tracks,  Special Kind Of Treatment and Pay Day Jump (Take 1) have never been released before. They make their debut on Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions, and like the two other tracks, feature Roy at the top of his game. This would be the case with Roy’s first recording session of 1950.

On April 19th 1950, Roy and his band cut five new tracks. Roy had written four tracks and cowrote Sweet Peach with Edward and James Griffin. Without doubt, the highlight of the session was a blistering version of Cadillac Baby. It features Roy and his band at their very best. On the flip side was Hard Luck Blues. These two tracks became Roy’s next single. The other three tracks recorded at that session were New Rebecca, Sweet Peach and Take Two of Pay Day Jump. New Rebecca features a vocal powerhouse, while Sweet Peach was a slow, soul-baring track. Listening to Sweet Peach, it’s hard to believe Roy was only twenty-five. His worldweary vocal sounds as if he’s lived several lives. That’s testament to Roy’s ability to make lyrics come to life. He continued to do this, through the rest of 1950.

Two months after his last recording session, Roy returned to the studio to cut another quartet of tracks. This included Love Don’t Love Nobody and Dreaming Blues. Love Don’t Love Nobody was a hook heavy track where elements of R&B rock ’n’ roll combine. On the B-Side of Love Don’t Love Nobody, was  Good Man Blues. It was released as a single in 1950. The other tracks recorded at the session were Good Man Blues, where Roy testifies and vamps his way through the track. Too Much Lovin’ Ain’t No Good was never released until 1985. For thirty-five years, it lay in DeLuxe’s vaults. Belatedly, it was heard by a wider audience. That’s the case with other tracks on Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions.

There’s a total of eight tracks on Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions that have never been released before. They make a welcome debut on Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions. Listening to these tracks, it’s hard to believe they weren’t released. They’re certainly not lacking in quality. After all, between 1949 and 1951, which Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions covers Roy Brown was at the peak of his powers.

Roy had come a long way since signing for DeLuxe. He became one of their prized assets. That’s partly, why King Records were so keen to buy a share of DeLuxe. That happened in 1949. Unbeknown to Roy, the Braun brothers solo a large percentage of DeLuxe to King Records. this just happened to include Roy’s contract. From the session on the 20th September 1949, King Records owned Roy’s contract. The Braun brothers were gambling that they’d enjoyed the most successful period of Roy Brown’s career.

That proved not to be the case. Right through until 1953, Roy Brown was one R&Bs hottest properties. His singles were constantly at the top of the charts. That’s not surprising. Roy Brown could breath meaning and emotion into track. Whether it was hope, hurt or heartbreak, Roy Brown made songs come to life. That’s apparent on Ace Records’ recent compilation Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions. It features twenty-four tracks the most successful period of Roy Brown’s career. Between 1949 and 1951, the period Pay Day Jump-The Later Sessions covers, Roy Brown was one of the most talented and influential R&B singers of his generation.





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