The Complete Hits

The Complete Hits

by The Browns



The Complete Hits (2008) is a single-disc offering 21 of the best-loved and most popular country sides from siblings Jim Ed Brown, Maxine Brown, and Bonnie Brown -- known, suitably enough, as the Browns. This Collectors' Choice Music compile begins with their earliest recordings on the Fabor label -- notably, the fun "Looking Back to See" and "Here Today and Gone Tomorrow" -- as well as every one of the RCA Records titles to have made it as Top 100 Country and/or Pop Singles circa 1955 through 1967. From their humble Arkansas origins, and while still young adults the trio attained a degree of regional success with the upbeat and winsome "Looking Back to See" -- which had been penned by Maxine. It gave them a chance to perform on the weekly live music radio program the Louisiana Hayride. The exposure paid off as their subsequent ballad "Here Today and Gone Tomorrow" made it all the way to a respectable seven on the Country survey. The Browns soon outgrew the Fabor Records imprint, as the trio had gained enough clout to garner the interest of RCA. By the spring of 1956, brother Jim Ed Brown's time was increasingly being taken up by his duties in the Army. His extracurricular moments were devoted to recording new material. They returned in fine style, remaking the Louvin Brothers' "I Take the Chance," which landed at the penultimate notch on the Country Singles countdown. In September of 1956 came another Louvin's update with "Just as Long as You Love Me." The number only reached eleven and marked nearly a year before the Browns would return to the upper reaches of the singles survey. Their comeback yielded one of the group's signatures, "I Heard the Bluebirds Sing." They benefited greatly from the input of Chet Atkins, who was RCA's acting head of A&R. Under his direction the Browns created their first double-barrel classic as "The Three Bells" not only entered the Pop market, but made it all the way to the top of both the Country and Pop Singles charts. Sensing a good thing, "Scarlet Ribbons" followed two months later and "The Old Lamplighter" briefly sustained their crossover appeal. Their non-threatening, rural alternative to rock & roll had a tremendous amount to do with easy-on-the-ears vocal harmonies. Atkins would incorporate these perfectly into the Nashville sound that he was concurrently concocting by blending middle of the road pop and melodic country. Although their acclaim would never attain its former level, the Browns' last half-dozen survey entries were spread throughout the early to '60s. One of the primary pluses of this Collectors' Choice Music package is these latter era tunes. Their lovely interpretation of Roger Miller's "Meadowgreen," Chip Taylor's folkie "I Hear It Now," and the frisky update of John D. Loudermilk's "Big Daddy." The latter is a variant of "Alabama Bound" and actually dates back to 1908 with the earliest known recording known by Papa Charlie Jackson circa May of 1925. Fans of bawdy British comic Benny Hill will undoubtedly recognize the melody as it was frequently used as incidental music. While hardcore enthusiasts might want to spring for the pricey imports of their individual albums, many consumers will find enough of a healthy sampling here to satiate the casual listener.

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