Blind Dog Radio

Chicken Fat by Mel Brown

Label: Impulse! / Universal Music, Verve / Universal Distribution, Sundazed
Release Date: May 31, 1967
Releases: March 9, 2004; April 24, 2007
Recording Time: 40 minutes
Recording Date: May 31, 1967 & June 1, 1967

Styles: Soul Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Modern Electric Blues.

Guitarist Mel Brown is hailed as "An Impulse! Discovery" on Chicken Fat, his debut for the label, and this album does feature a fantastic unique sound. Brown played in the bands of T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker, and has an aggressive (though not harsh) single-string picking style. For this date he is paired with either Herb Ellis or Arthur Wright on guitar, Gerald Wiggins on organ, and Brown's regular rhythm section of Paul Humphrey on drums and Ronald Brown on electric bass. There are a couple tracks that are played as pretty straight blues, but this is a hoppin' soul-jazz date. The tunes are bouncy and funky, and Brown's playing is a real treat. His bluesy, almost reckless soloing gives a vastly different flavor that the playing of guys like Grant Green or Melvin Sparks. Gerald Wiggins' organ playing is cool and swinging, and the electric bass of Ronald Brown makes this album about as funky as Impulse ever got. Both Herb Ellis and Arthur Wright get some solo space as well, with Ellis sounding quite interesting playing an unamplified 12-string on a couple cuts. Brown gets some nice tones as well, and on "Hobo Flats" plays "an electronic guitar with Wah-Wah distortion" (remember, this is 1967 jazz) "that gives a weird shimmering sound," according to the liner notes. Leave it to Impulse! to put a new spin on the guitar/organ sound. This is hot stuff.
by Sean Westergaard

Credits: Eddie Brackett - engineer; Mel Brown - composer, guitar, guitar (electric), personnel, primary artist; Ronald Brown - bass, bass (electric), personnel; Ken Druker - executive producer; Herb Ellis - guest artist, guitar, guitar (12 string), guitar (electric), personnel; Robert Flynn - cover design; George Hoefer - liner notes; Paul Humphrey & the Cool Aid Chemists - drums, personnel; Bob Irwin - mastering; Hollis King - art direction; Joe Lebow - liner design; Oliver Nelson - arranger, composer; Jayme Pieruzzi - mastering; Fred Seligo - cover photo, photography; Sherniece Smith - art producer; Bob Thiele - producer; Gerald Wiggins - organ, personnel; Arthur Wright - guitar, guitar (electric), personnel.

Tracks: 1) Chicken Fat; 2) Greasy Spoon; 3) Home James; 4) Slalom; 5) Hobo Flats; 6) Shanty; 7) Sad But True; 8) I'm Goin' to Jackson; 9) Blues for Big Bob.