BERTHA BELLE BROWNE Bertha Belle Browne 1972 256+ VBR LAME mp3 Vinyl rip & scans from Mainstream MRL 383 I Cannot Say Goodbye
I'm Jus' An Orphan
In honour of hump day, here's the hump. Regardless of matters of taste in genres, this one is widely acknowledged as the worst album on the label and it's a helluva head-scratcher as to how it could come to pass in the first place. Upon much speculation ranging from the casting couch to a gambling debt, the closest I can come to explaining this pea-under-the-mattress is somehow Shad thought (or had been sold on) the idea that BBB could be his next Janis Joplin (whom he had "discovered" and signed first).
Well, lemme tell you, he was sorely mistaken if that's the case. The best word I can come up with for her singing style is "caterwauling." Look it up. To be fair, she's OK in the middle range but she jumps around waaaay too much and pulls more gimmicks than Mariah Carey at a diva convention, losing it completely in the upper registers. She's got less chops than a kosher vegan restaurant.
She's not helped any by the musical material, all her own compositions. It's your run-of-the-mill tepid white-kid funky country blues with requisite hackneyed lyrics coming off like entries from a sophomore community college humanities major's journal. Obviously earnest but this girl is about 5 years away from a demo tape, so what the hell is she doing being backed by Ernie Wilkins and his orchestra? He produced this affair so the arrangements are awesome and throughout the set there's some great grooves underneath the "singing." Rumour has it he used the same personnel as the gorgeous and majestic Alice Clarke LP but for what seems like obvious reasons, they probably didn't want their name on this turd.
Apparently BBB became a born-again Christian at a later date and has given interviews on the subject but I don't know if she's recorded any other material. Nor am I eager to find out. File this one under "curiosities" and consider it recommended for weirdos, tone-deaf trustafarian hippie chicks from the old south who discovered Woodstock this summer and completists only. In my estimation, this album marks the beginning of the end for the label as it's the first point where Shad lost the plot.
1 I Cannot Say Goodbye 2 Gotta Take My Stand 3 Don't Feel Bad 4 Country Borders 5 Have You Seen The Mirror 6 I'm Jus' An Orphan 7 I Felt Myself Fall 8 Lily Lady 9 Come Innocent