Mel Brown Chicken Fat (Verve By Request Series) 180g LP

Mel Brown

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Mel Brown's 1967 Impulse! Debut on 180g Vinyl!
Transferred from Analog Tapes!
Pressed at Third Man in Detroit!

Analog Planet Rated 10/10 Music, 9/10 Sonics!

Guitarist Mel Brown's 1967 Impulse! debut is possibly the funkiest and most unique album ever released on the label. Brown's clean blues picking style - honed while playing in John Lee Hooker's and T-Bone Walker's bands - marinates funkily with the swinging soul-jazz organ of Gerald Wiggins. The title track and the simmering lament of "I'm Goin' to Jackson" standout. Verve By Request Series features transfers from analog tapes and remastered on 180-gram vinyl, pressed at Third Man in Detroit.

Chicken Fat is a stellar session with some stellar session players on it, including smoking 12-string support from the great Herb Ellis. I don't usually pair Ellis' name with a word like 'smoking,' but this is perhaps the best soloing — and collaborative playing — I've heard from him. And he's playing an acoustic 12-string guitar here to boot. But we are here for Mel Brown's playing, and his clean, precise, and heartfelt style shines through on this version of Chicken Fat. This is also before there was lots of distortion and such being brought into the blues universe, but that makes his playing no less passionate. In some ways, he reminds of Larry Coryell's early sound, albeit with a different level of authority on the fretboard. The killer grooves are courtesy of no less than drummer Paul Humphrey, who played with everyone from Charles Mingus, Frank Zappa, and Steely Dan to Jerry Garcia's short-lived Legion of Mary. Ronald Brown's bass playing is pretty knocked out, grooving tightly with Humphrey on these nine Fat tracks. There are some nice moments where the low end really pumps here. The thick, black vinyl pressings are well-centered and quiet. And the great news is, it compares favorably to my near-mint-condition original pressing in terms of sound quality. The new edition is perhaps a little quieter, but other than that, it delivers that clean and crisp but still round, full-bodied Impulse Records sound. I suspect it was perhaps originally mixed with a slight edge toward pop radio, so even my original pressing is a little on the bright side, but nothing that I find problematic. I'll put it this way — Chicken Fat sounds great when you pump up the volume.
-Mark Smotroff, Analog Planet, Music 10/10, Sound 9/10


  • Verve By Request Series
  • 180g Vinyl
  • Remastered
  • Transferred from Analog Tapes
  • Gatefold Jacket
  • Pressed at Third Man Pressing in Detroit, MI


Mel Brown electric guitar
Herb Ellis electric guitar, 12-string guitar
Arthur Wright electric guitar
Gerald Wiggins electric organ
Ronald Brown electric bass
Paul Humphrey drums


Side One:

  1. Chicken Fat
  2. Greasy Spoon
  3. Home James
  4. Slalom

Side Two:

  1. Hobo Flats
  2. Shanty
  3. Sad but True
  4. I'm Goin' to Jackson
  5. Blues for Big Bob

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