By Jeffrey B. Remz, September 1998
"When I was a kid, an instrumental could make it as much as a vocal song. I still believe in that...there's nothing wrong with a good instrumental."
One difference is the overt lack of humor adorning previous efforts. Brown is a master of linking words together humorously a la "Holding Pattern" where he incorporates a zillion flying references or the more overt "My Wife Thinks You're Dead," his biggest hit to date.
Brown agrees, but that suits him fine. "I think that's good," he says. "I do so many other things. So many people have only heard 'Venom Wearin' Denim or 'My Wife...' I think two like that is enough. 'Highway Patrol' (an ode to the men in blue) is a little more serious."
Brown strays well past country on a few blues songs near the end, "Keepin' Up With You" and the nearly nine-minute long jam "Stupid Blues."
And in yet another twist on the album, who's playing drums but Mitch Mitchell? Now that name shouldn't ring any bell with country fans at all, but it sure better with music fans. He was the drummer for Jimi Hendrix.
During the recording, Mitchell literally fell off the stool. "You can almost hear it," Brown says. "He just tipped over. He was jet legged."
Brown and Mitchell met a few years back at the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle along with Noel Redding, Hendrix' bassist.
While not on the disc, Brown has played gigs in recent months with Buddy Miles sitting in on the skins. Miles, too, drummed for Hendrix.
Despite his popularity, Brown has never been heard much on country radio, partially because his songs aren't exactly mainstream fodder.
But Brown appears unworried. "I think it's taking hold, actually becoming more of a mainstream through the ways I've been able to do this, the TV commercials and the acting parts things that I've done to promote myself visually to get around not being on some playlist for a country radio station. There are other ways to get your music out there."
Videos certainly have aided his cause. He won a Country Music Association award for "My Wife." The song also earned him two Grammy nominations. Brown's videos have gained much play on The Nashville Network.
As for the television activity, Brown says Gap and Lipton both contacted him.
"They had seen things I'd done - videos and things," Brown says. "I turn down a lot of offers to do things that are not in good taste. I'm very selective about that. They looked like good quality projects that meet those criteria. They both do that."
As for the "X-Files," Brown never even watched it until asked to be on a show out in the new season by a fan involved in the show. "I'm not a big TV guy," he says, but he thought the show was fine.
After five albums, Brown appears satisfied with his main line of work.
"I've gotten a lot of positive response from people who have heard it so far, so that's a positive sign," says Brown, adding, "I try and be excited about it because I do the best job I can so I can be confident. That carries me through. As long as I like it, I'm the toughest critic in the world. I'm the toughest critic in terms of what sounds good and what doesn't sound good."