Marty Brown is one of those folks who was just "too country" for Nashville. In the 1990s, he cut a trio of awesomely twangy major label albums, followed by an equally satisfying indie album a couple of years later. But only one of his songs ever charted, "It Must Be The Rain," from his second album, though it barely cracked the Top 100. Well, you know how that old story ends. Still, for fans of true twang, those old Marty Brown albums are nice nuggets to rediscover in the Music City archives... Here's a quick look at his work...
Marty Brown "High And Dry" (MCA, 1991)
(Produced by Richard Bennett & Tony Brown)
An unusual album for a commercial country release... It opens on a hypertraditionalist note, flipping our ears back with several stark, Hank Williams-style acoustic honkytonk tunes, with Brown sounding for all the world like Wayne Hancock. Midway through, some bigger production kicks in, but it's poppy stuff, like the Rockpile-ish, Everly Brothers-flavored tune, "Every Now And Then" -- again, not exactly what you'd expect from a '90s Nashville disc. Surprisingly good stuff, at least if you're into old-fashioned honkytonk.
Marty Brown "Wild Kentucky Skies" (MCA, 1993)
Marty Brown "Cryin', Lovin', Leavin' " (MCA, 1994)
(Produced by Richard Bennett)
Wow... how come they don't teach us about Marty Brown in Honky Tonk Snob School?? He's so good!! This is a great album, a total throwback to the 'Fifties, with awkward hillbilly material and heartfelt heart songs galore. Hank Williams is an obvious influence, but whiny, tearjerky balladeers like Webb Pierce are also echoed, particularly in songs like "Shameful Lies," which would have been a huge hit back in, oh say, 1957 or so... (Heck, he's even got Melba Montgomery singing harmony... What more could I ask for??) Buck Owens comes to mind on the album's opener, "You Must Be Mistakin' Me," and even when he stretches into blues-rock guitar territory, Brown still hits the right notes, bringing to mind George Thorogood rather than Stevie Ray Vaughan. In short, for the roots-minded among us, this disc is a goldmine, with hardly a bum note on it. Plus, other than one cover of an old Moon Mullican tune, Brown wrote or cowrote every song on here... He's one talented dude. This is one fine record.
Marty Brown "Here's To The Honky Tonks" (HighTone, 1996)
Hick Music Index