Red House Records
A review written for The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
This album is a piece of history. Greg recorded it live in 1982, after his first two albums, Iowa Waltz and 44&66, were issued and already out of stock. These were the days when Brown didn't have a label - when he was asked to tour nationally so he could put out a record, and put out a record so he could tour. |
A guy named Bob Feldman was in the audience and thought that 50 to 60 people weren't a sufficient public for such an artist, and decided to book a 1400-seat hall in order to bring Greg Brown to a larger audience. Then Brown asked Feldman if he would like to reprint his two records. Those became the first two releases on the Red House label. Now, almost seventeen years later, Red House has one of the most impressive catalogs of folk music recordings, with more than 140 titles. Those recordings include the entire Greg Brown discography, Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka, Cliff Eberhardt and many, many others.
One Night was issued then on the Musical Extempore label, which produced only three records (the second one is by Bill Staines, and I wonder which one is the third). The album has long been out of print and sought after by Brown's most addicted fans. Now here we have it, with many extra tracks (from the next night), and totalling seventy-four minutes of great music.
Brown was, in the early 80's, a very promising songwriter, but he really demonstrated his potential only in the 90's. Two of his 90's CD's, Dream Cafe and Poet Game, are considered by many to be the best folk albums of the nineties. In One Night we find many good songs. Some of these have been released for the first time, like Ella Mae and Never Shine Sun, but none of them is up to the level of songs like Just By Myself, or I Don't Know That Guy from the Dream Cafe album, or many of his latest songs.
I found it very hard to listen to One Night in one sitting, I could only hear four to five songs at a time. Maybe the approach should be to imagine you are in a small club, order a beer from your refrigerator, and just imagine you have Brown in front of you. Then you could go back to 1982 and experience what this CD is all about.
The conclusion is that this CD is one for devoted fans seeking the complete Greg Brown catalog. Newcomers to Greg Brown would do better to start with his 90's output: Dream Cafe, Poet Game, Slant Six Mind, and Further In. These CD's made a devotee out of me, but I am sure there are many others who would be really happy to have One Night on CD.
The cover is a drawing by Mr. Brown himself, and not unlike the one on Further In, it is very interesting and original.