Wait. . .More Blinded Kindness
"Blinded By Love" (Allen Toussaint)
Browning Bryant, from Browning Bryant, Reprise, 1974
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At the risk of total overload (or are we already way past that?), I just had to post this. This weekend I was contacted by an avid Allen Toussaint fan who wishes to remain nameless. He sent me this cut, which was likely the first incarnation (unless a songwriter demo turns up!) of Toussaint’s “Blinded By Love”, performed by a young (16 at the time) South Carolinian named Browning Bryant on his eponymous 1974 LP, which was produced by the composer himself. Part of the album was recorded in Atlanta and part at Sea-Saint, which was newly open for bidniz in the Crescent City. “Blinded” comes from the Atlanta sessions that included backing musicians Toussaint, Tom Robb, Barry Bailey, Auburn Burrell, Joe Wilson, and Roy Yager. Burrell and Bailey were guitarists and Robb bassist for Mylon LeFevre, who Toussaint produced two albums for in Atlanta a few years earlier. But I am unfamiliar with the other two as instrumentalists. Meanwhile, the seven New Orleans tracks feature Toussaint plus ¾ of the Meters, with the great Smokey Johnson subbing for Zig on the drummer’s throne. Mr. Anonymous also sent me a few of those cuts, too, - such a generous guy - and my initial impression is highly favorable.
I had heard tell of this record, but have never found a copy (there are a few way overpriced ones on the net) to buy*. So, it was a real kick to hear some of it and get “Blinded” directly from Toussaint’s perspective. I don’t know if he originally wrote it as a rock song, but obviously that is how it’s rendered here. It starts out kind of straight up; but, when the first verse finally kicks in, things get a loose, funky, down home, Southern rock feel. If it were my first experience of the song, I would not guess that Toussaint either wrote or produced and arranged it. New to me as a singer, Bryant (who has the look of a young Jim Morrison in that cover shot) has a tenor voice that, while surprisingly good, seems more suited to pop than rock or soul. Still, I much prefer this take to Johnny Winter’s more over-the-top compression-fest.
Ultimately, though, the soul and funk direction taken on the three versions of this song in my prior post is really more up my blind alley. Etta’s is still the best of the lot to me. But, I can enjoy Browning Bryant’s work with Toussaint, too. It shows a different side of the producer that started with the LeFevre albums and continued in his productions for Frankie Miller, Joe Cocker, the James Montgomery Band, and even popster Bryan Highland during the 70s.
We'll have to try out some those one day along with one or two songs from the Sea-Saint sessions of this well-done album. Again, thanks to Name Withheld for the revelation. Now back to getting over the Saints’ freeze out. . . (blinded by snow?).
* [update 11/9/2007] Thanks to Nicholas, who informs us in the comments that there is now a Japanese import CD of this album available. Also, I finally scored a copy of the LP a while back and will be featuring more from it, probably in January.