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Milton Brown and the Musical Brownies

The Complete Recordings of the Father of Western Swing: 1932-1937 – 1996 (Texas Rose)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Milton Brown and the Musical Brownies

The title sums it up nicely. Milton Brown and the Musical Brownies were the top dance band in northern Texas and Oklahoma in the mid-thirties-pre-dating the success of the better-known Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys by a good 18 months. Their tremendous regional success might well have spread nationally by the late thirties had it not been for Milton's tragic death as a result of injuries suffered in a car wreck in 1936.

Though Brown had established the basic instrumental line-up and repertoire followed by western swing acts for decades to come, his recordings have been incredibly hard to come by. The small Texas Rose label has, with the assistance of Brown biographer Cary Ginell (who provides excellent liner notes and a discography) and Milton's sole surviving brother Roy Lee Brown, created a crackerjack 5-disc boxed set -120 songs mostly recorded over a brief five-year period.

The quality of re-mastering is generally excellent, particularly considering the age of the recordings and the conditions under which they were made. Though likely to flummox just about any HNC fan, Texas Rose has come up with a winner here; one which should be cherished by nearly any fan of country and western's early years.