Monday, January 17, 2011
Browning Bryant: Yet One More Reason Why Mary J. Blige Is Overrated
Browning Bryant can sing.
Check it out:
"Browning Bryant attained success singing folk-pop that was uncharacteristically mature and introspective for a pre-teen heartthrob. In 1969, the first of his several songs to generate international sales was Games That Grown Up Children Play, leading to televised appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Kraft Music Hall (10 times), The Tonight Show (December 24, 1970), and a brief Las Vegas career. He was nominated "Best Boy Singer" in a reader poll by 16 Magazine, then a favorite with teenagers.
In 1974, Bryant's last commercial album was released. New Orleans hit-maker Allen Toussaint
produced the record and wrote most of its songs. It featured backing by the New Orleans group The Meters. Though he was 15 and then 16 years old when the album was recorded, his mellifluous vocals are remarkably mature. His three self-penned songs also belie his age, with one, "Cure My Blues," being covered by blues singer Ellen McIlwaine. (Allmusic calls her version "majestic.") Despite recording in a style drastically different than his earlier work, it turned out that Bryant was well-paired with Toussaint's trademark syncopated funk."
So yeah, Browning Bryant.
I found this record about 10 years ago while searching for anything related to Allen Toussaint. I have to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised. It didn't smack me in familiar places the way a classic, New Orleans release would. With both Toussaint and The Meters involved, I had expected it to. Though Toussaint's signature piano is right up front, and the band is tight, it reminds me more of what Stevie Wonder might have done had he recorded outside of Motown with these same people. The songs are strong and often, Bryant's vocals send a chill through me.
Listen to "Losing," one of his three self-penned tunes from the Allen Toussaint produced, 1974 release.
The dude was 16.