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Oscar Brown, Jr.: Movin' On

Jim Santella By

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Recorded in 1972 as [Atlantic 1629], Movin’ On was previously out-of-print and never before available on CD. Oscar Brown Junior’s blues-rooted lyrics caused heads to turn when this one was released; and that was before sexual harassment and politically correct social guidelines became commonplace. Brown’s original songs are mostly tongue-in-cheek political statements that allow the listener to laugh at various situations while tuning in on the rhythmic groove. OBJ’s songs include advice for every day: advice about scratchin’ for a living, how to handle your mate, how to inflate your own self-esteem, and things like that. When he half-speaks and half-sings, the message portrayed is sometimes crass, sometimes braggadocio; but always with subtle humor. When he sings in his soaring dramatic style, however, Brown sings songs that contain messages for the soul.

"Feel the Fire" is dramatic. Heightened not only by Brown’s singing, but by Fathead Newman’s flute and tenor sax fills as well, the tune contains an emotional message that the singer drives home. Cissy Houston’s overdubbed background vocals add considerable strength; her work amounts to that of a gospel choir. Brown’s "Gang Bang" urges our urban youth to stop killing each other, while "First Lady" offers the familiar theme that anybody can grow up to be president of his country. The latter includes patriotic colors from piccolo and snare drum. "No Place to Be Somebody" is a loping blues in which the singer laments his present situation. It’s a theme that dates back to the origin of the blues; it’s also one to which we can all easily relate. Brown and Jean Pace trade lines on "To Stay in Good with You." It’s a pleasant song where two people tell each other what they’d do to keep their relationship healthy:

"I’d walk through fire drinking gasoline.
And come out cooler than a ice machine."

"I’d buy the White House for you, paint it green.
And train a dirty dog to keep it clean."

The album’s final track is a dramatic ballad about the loss of a close friend. All are Brown’s songs, the album’s sound quality is excellent, and Fathead Newman’s interludes add a spark. Septuagenarian Oscar Brown, Jr. has recorded far too few albums during his career; each one offers something special.

Track Listing: A Dime Away From a Hotdog; Walk Away; Feel the Fire; A Ladiesman; No Place to Be Somebody; To Stay in Good with You; Gang Bang; First Lady; Young Man.Collective

Personnel: Oscar Brown, Jr.- vocals; Cornell Dupree- guitar; Richard Tee- piano; Gourdine Edwards, Bill Salter- electric bass; David "Fathead" Newman- tenor sax, flute; Raymond Beckenstein- alto sax, piccolo; Arthur Clarke- baritone sax, bass clarinet; Thad Jones, Charles Lewis, Eddie Williams- trumpet, flugelhorn; Jimmy Johnson, Bernard Purdie- drums; Ralph MacDonald- percussion; Cissy Houston and Tender Loving Care- background vocals; Jean Pace- vocals on "To Stay in Good with You."

Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: 32 Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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