January 22, 2007

Wait. . .More Blinded Kindness



"Blinded By Love" (Allen Toussaint)
Browning Bryant, from Browning Bryant, Reprise, 1974
(tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

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.

26 Comments:

Blogger Red Kelly said...

WOW!!!

This is EXCELLENT STUFF!! How cool is this album?? Browning was 15 years old!

...this is right around Rejuvenation and Desitively Bonaroo time, right? Lovin' it Dan (and ol' Mister Anonymous) THANKS!

9:05 PM, January 23, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Yeah, Red, it's a real find. My only regret is that now this album may be even harder to get! And, according to Mr. Anon, Bryant was 16 when this was made....but still, making an album with Toussaint and the Meters....priceless at any age!

10:45 PM, January 23, 2007  
Blogger ,mjmjhfhfm said...

Man! These are great! Already sent the links to my bandmates to see if they want to do this song! Got a killer singer that would do it justice.

Thanks!

10:07 AM, January 26, 2007  
Blogger whiteray said...

Great post and great tunes -- I love the Etta, but it was nice to get all of them, especially the Cold Blood, as they're been one of my favorite "semi-forgotten" bands of the era. Thanks much!

10:26 PM, January 27, 2007  
Anonymous Bill said...

Dan - while you're digging up obscure Toussaint songs, have you ever heard of "I'll Take A Melody?" I know it from a Jerry Garcia cover and the only other version on iTunes is a pop-reggae version by John Holt. Amazon indicates Gladys Knight and Frankie Miller did it too, but I never heard their versions.

10:16 PM, January 29, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Hi, Bill, I've been knocked down by the flu the last few days. The version of "I'll Take A Melody" I have is by Frankie Miller from his 1974 album 'Frankie Miller's Highlife', which was produced by Toussaint in Atlanta with pretty much the same crew as is on the Browning Bryant cut I featured. It's not near top of my list of fave AT pop compositions (or productions for that matter) - but I'd be curious to hear those other versions you mention. Thanks for the info.

12:21 PM, January 30, 2007  
Blogger Mail Clerk said...

i'm sure someone's discussed it already, but has anyone seen the elvis costello/allen toussaint live dvd yet? is it any good? seems to (by the setlist) be a bit short on toussaint vocal stuff (at least, compared to the concert I saw).

also, while we're on the toussaint kick, how 'bout some shoorah?

10:59 PM, January 30, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

I agree about the Costello/Toussaint concert DVD seeming to to favor EC. But I haven't seen/heard it to verify.
Yes, MC, Shoorahs will be coming in a week or so. I've got some other things to post first. I've been put way behind by the flu, etc. Posting will be sparse at best for a while longer. Unavoidable.

7:02 AM, January 31, 2007  
Blogger Mail Clerk said...

I hope you feel better soon, Dan!

Thanks for the awesome posts (past and forthcoming, I'm sure).

5:31 PM, January 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have a copy of this record that i would sell at a reasonable price. my great-uncle was toussaint's partner at sea-saint (the sea part, our last name is sehorn) it most likely is a 1st press since marshall gave it to me. marshall just passed away recently and allen played at his funeral. i wasnt able to make it (one of the worst things ever) thanks for the music and i just wanted to give marshall some due. travis.

4:12 PM, February 02, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Travis,
Condolences to you and your family over the loss of Marshall Sehorn. He had a LOT to do with the music business in New Orleans and beyond.

Please email me using the link on the left side of this page (hotg at bellsouth dot net) about this album at your earliest convenience. I have been looking for a good copy for the HOTG archives. Thanks for the offer and your comments.
Peace

6:54 PM, February 02, 2007  
Anonymous Nicolas Martin said...

"Browning Bryant" is vintage Toussaint and highly recommended. In an interview I did with Bryant in 2006, he told me that his was the first recording ever done at Sea-Saint Studio. What a shame that no CD has been released. I have created my own from the original LP I bought when it was first released.

8:16 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Nicolas, is there any way to to access your interview with Bryant? I'd like to read it and link to it, if it's online. Let me know.

While it may well have been the first commercial record to come out of Sea Saint, I'm not sure his album sessions that were done there were the actual first sessions in the studio, because Sam Henry was in there making demos very early on; but that's a minor point. I hope to get to my talks with Sam at some point, by the way.

8:07 AM, February 14, 2007  
Anonymous Nicolas Martin said...

I didn't record my lengthy interview with Browning, and just took a few notes, the import of which are incorporated into the PBWiki site I created for him. You are right, I should have stated more clearly that, according to Bryant, his was the first commercial release recorded at Sea-Saint. No doubt there was recording earlier in 1973, when the studio was created.

12:02 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Nicolas Martin said...

BTW, Browning told me he was 15 when the recording of "Browning Bryant" began.

12:08 PM, February 18, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Thanks again Nicolas, for your insights. It is truly amazing that a 15 year old kid was able to hold his own with the Toussaint team and have the first LP that was, at least, mainly recorded at Sea-Saint. Had his voice been more mature, I think that LP could have been a monster. As it is, it's still remarkable (and hard to find!).

12:23 PM, February 18, 2007  
Blogger anna said...

Hi
I´m desperately looking for Browning Bryants version of Blinded by love. It can´t be bought, it can´t be downloaded anywhere. Please, please, please..if you´ve got it send it to me. basanna@gmail.com

4:02 PM, February 27, 2007  
Anonymous Charlie Anders said...

Wow, now I'm on an Allen Toussaint early 70s kick again! Thanks for the info! But I can't find the links to this track of the King Biscuit track... did you take them down? I'm dying to hear them!

5:50 PM, March 11, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Unfortunately, Charlie, the posts here have a relatively short run. I do remove them from the server after that. For more specific information, please feel free to email me at the address shown on the left margin.

7:52 PM, March 11, 2007  
Anonymous Danny said...

Bill,

I recently fell in love with "I Have A Melody" and just posted about it on my blog, "The Canals" (http://thecanalsblog.com). Let me know what you think.

11:02 PM, October 03, 2007  
Anonymous Nicolas Martin said...

The "Browning Bryant" album is now available through Amazon.com as a Japanese CD import.

1:03 AM, October 24, 2007  
Blogger Nicolas said...

Finally a CD of "Browning Bryant" has been released, by the Japanese company Vivid Sound. It is available for $35,99 from Amazon US here:

http://www.amazon.com/Browning-Bryant/dp/B000V7FF52/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-5438724-5374064?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1194616533&sr=8-1

8:38 AM, November 09, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Thanks, Nicholas, for that info. I'll eventually get it onto the post itself! I finally got the LP a few months ago and will be featuring more from it in January, as it looks now. So stay tuned.

9:52 AM, November 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, folks -- just thought I'd alert you to a post on the excellent Rock Town Hall blog that features four more tracks from this album! Check it out at:

http://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php?title=thrifty_music_vol_10_browning_bryant_and_1&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

10:58 AM, December 01, 2007  
Blogger B said...

Browing Bryant is from SOUTH Carolina not NORTH Carolina.

I know to New Orleanians it's all Carolina, but there is a difference :-)

5:00 PM, June 05, 2010  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Hey, B,
It's pretty much ALL North to us!

Thanks for the heads-up. I have corrected the post.

6:36 PM, June 05, 2010  

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