Honky Tonk Heroes: Did We Have a Party

Honky Tonk Heroes: Did We Have a Party

by Billy Brown


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Billy Brown is an unknown name, but Did We Have a Party, his installment in Bear Family's ongoing Honky Tonk Heroes series, proves that he deserved a better fate. Perhaps this 2012 compilation will give him the credit he deserves. The biggest feather in Brown's cap is that he recorded the original version of "He'll Have to Go," a country standard popularized by Jim Reeves, but that shouldn't suggest that Billy Brown was merely a countrypolitan crooner. Certainly, he had a smooth, easy touch, sliding into ballads with nary a ruffle, sounding similar to his idol Eddy Arnold, but he could also tear it up, as the relentless opening rocker "Flip Out" amply illustrates. "Flip Out" and a handful of similarly minded rockers like "Did We Have a Party" show that unlike some country singers, Brown was ready to jump on Elvis Presley's coattails -- a move that produced some great singles if no hits. Chart success always eluded Brown but it surely wasn't for lack of trying, either from him or his label Columbia, who gave him many bites at the apple. That all ended once Brown discovered Reeves cut "He'll Have to Go," thereby undercutting Brown's version, a situation he put entirely at the label's feet. They parted ways afterward and Brown wound up on Republic, where he abandoned the rollicking rock & roll of his latter-day Columbia sides in favor of a smooth touch not so dissimilar from Reeves, but he did a bit of Elvis/Charlie Rich-styled boogie on "Lost Weekend," another failed single, and he then turned to religion for a number of years before surfacing at the end of the '60s on Challenge Records, recording some modern-sounding country with a slight pop tint. He kept going throughout the '70s, but Did We Have a Party stops there, offering his '50s and '60s prime, the sides that show the range of his talent. The non-chronological sequencing of Did We Have a Party does suggest he backslid from rockabilly into crooning, but this makes for a more dynamic listen, pulling listeners in with his immediate rock & roll then opening up to the cheerful cowboy shuffles of "Tight Wad," barroom weepers of "Drunk, Drunk Again," and occasional incident of bandwagon hopping ("Echo Mountain," a rewrite of "Wolverton Mountain." According to Martin Hawkins' excellent liner notes, Brown suffered from drink and temper, afflictions that derailed his career, but judged strictly on music as he is here, he is a country singer with range, depth, and a pretty impressive, albeit largely unheard, body of work.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/12/2012
Label: Bear Family Germany
UPC: 4000127172969
catalogNumber: 2717296
Rank: 123779

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Billy Brown   Primary Artist,Guitar,Leader,Vocals
Jordanaires   Choir, Chorus
Hank Penny   Leader
Bobby Bruce   Fiddle
Dick Shanahan   Drums
Roy Huskey   Bass
William Puett   Saxophone
Elbert Raymond "Dutch" McMillin   Saxophone
Jerry Reed Hubbard   Guitar
Wayne Burdick   Steel Guitar
Marvin H. Hughes   Piano,Leader
John F. Freddie Haynes   Piano
Harold R. "Ray Stevens" Ragsdale   Piano
Jack Gregory   Saxophone
Thomas Grady Martin   Guitar
James R. Phillips   Electric Guitar
Floyd T. Lightnin' Chance   Bass
Bob L. Moore   Bass
Harold Ray Bradley   Guitar,Leader
Murrey M. "Buddy" Harman   Drums
Robert Joe Morgan   Bass
Charles R. Morgan   Guitar
Richard Paul Morgan   Electric Guitar
Richard Nelson Rogers   Drums
Ray Eugene Huff   Drums

Technical Credits

Gene Autry   Composer
Tom Mack   Producer
Onie Wheeler   Composer
Joe Allison   Composer
Jimmy Lee Fautheree   Composer
Jack Keller   Composer
Bill Lowery   Producer
Fred Rose   Composer
V.F. Stewart   Composer
Wayne Walker   Composer
Marvin Hughes   Composer
Rex Griffin   Composer
Paul Humphreys   Composer
Troy Martin   Producer
Martin Hawkins   Liner Notes,Reissue Producer,Tape Research
R.A. Andreas   Illustrations
Richard Weize   Tape Research
Evelyn Wilson   Composer
Sunny Skylar   Composer
Frank LaVere   Composer
Noel Sherman   Composer
Audrey Allison   Composer
Marie Frank   Composer
Will Bennett   Composer
Paul Harper   Composer
Neal Burris   Composer
Andreas Merck   Photo Scanning
Nico Feuerbach   Tape Research
Clyde Pitts   Composer
Billy Brown   Composer
Doug Lewis   Composer
Francis Bandy   Composer
Allen Bradley   Composer,Producer
Tony Lee   Composer
Este   Photo Restoration
Joe Johnson   Producer
Pete Delong   Composer
Jan Brown   Illustrations
Helen Martin   Composer
Franklin Kirkpatrick   Composer
Carolyn Caldwell   Illustrations,Photo Scanning

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