Charlie "Cole Black" Brown

During the 70s Stan Lewis who owned the Jewel/Paula setup in Shreveport, LA released quite a lot of product that he sourced from Chicago. Artists like Lee "Shot" Williams and Jay Jay Taylor for example. The intriguingly named Charlie "Cole Black" Brown was one of the most obscure of the singers with the Chicago connection. The sensual uptown ballad ListenI Just Can’t Get Over You with its Tyrone Davis flavour appears to have been his only record. A beautifully modulated high baritone vocal chock full of gospel flourishes and a fine meandering tenor sax make this a cut to return to time and again.

UPDATE ~ Imagine my astonishment to hear from John "Soul" Smith that the release of this 45 was down to Garry Cape. I've known Garry for over 35 years but wasn't aware of this at all. Garry said "I remember one time when I was in Shreveport in the late 80s, I visited with Stan and he showed me the masters listing - there were many many more Chicago recordings that he had the rights to. At that time I was a record-dealer and so didn't show too much interest in them (!!) - but I did get the Charlie 'Cole Black' Brown pressed - previously it had only been available on a Jewel demo - I had it released on a slightly lighter coloured Jewel label.... "

Garry also commented "very very irritating thing is that they showed me the masters register, and it showed 4 tracks by Charlie Cole Black Brown - but in those days I was more interested in 45s than in masters and as they didn't have the audio readily to hand I never got to hear what the other 2 tracks were - but having been cut at the same session, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise if they were pretty good ........

I just can't get over you ~ JEWEL 838In the years since, I've tried to track them down - but change of ownerships of the masters means it has been a frustrating failure....."

Both John "Soul" Smith and Mike Finbow added that Charlie had been a memeber of the Violinaires on and off for years. Mike adds "Charles Brown wrote "Tomorrow May Be Too Late", one of the songs on the Violinaires first Jewel Album "The Upper Way", so it could well be him singing lead on that track. Comparing it with the vocal performance on "I Just Can't Get Over You" there are definite similarities." John adds "I think he was also the Reverend Charlie Brown who recorded a gospel CD as Charlie Brown & The Saints  (‘Jesus Will See You Through’ – 2002).""

John has sent me a lot of info on the background to the Jewel tracks. "The Charlie 'Cole Black' Brown tracks were cut in Chicago & were produced by Soul Company. This outfit was run by Bill Perry, Ed Silvers & maybe Cash McCall. Bill Perry told me that the group harmony on Charlie Brown’s cuts are by him, Hughie Hawkins & Cash McCall." Bill Perry told John that "I was recording a lot of people – Fontella Bass for Stan Lewis out of Shreveport; a guy named Charles ‘Coal Black’ Brown; Cash McCall, The Violinaires and gospel singer Albertina Walker, who were on Jewel Records. I was doing session work with these artists playing guitar and I did some bass work on a lot of sessions. We also recorded a singer for Willie Dixon – a guy called J.J. Taylor, and I got chance to do background work on a Chuck Berry album. I did a single with Stan Lewis by myself for Ronn, called ‘Sitting On The Banks Of The River’ and ‘Can’t Let You Go’ – that was in 1973. I also played with a funk band out of Chicago in the early 1970s called The South Side Movement and we had out a record at that time called ‘I’ve Been Watching You’, which was a big seller for us." John says that "Bill is now back down south; in Clarksdale where he has been playin blues gigs & DJing on the radio."

NEW UPDATE ~ John Reed qrites to say that "I've just been reading the update on Charlie "Cole Black" Brown on your site and the information about only original demo's being pressed isnt correct. I found an original issue about 5 years ago and posed the question on Soul Source and attached a couple of scans. Garry responded saying that he'd never seen one before. As with the demo, its styrene but without the "Promo text" on the label.

Here’s the link to the post in 2009.

I'm grateful to John for sharing his rare 45 with me.

Mike Finbow has also written to say that

"I've just had this pointed out to me - The Checker 45 is always listed as being by the Violinaires although I've not seen a copy myself. Looks like Charlie was singing lead and maybe the initial batch of releases credited him instead of the group. Only a guess, and I'll need to do more delving.

I'm also very grateful to Mike for sharing this info.

Ther myusteries about this artist get deeper and deeper!


ListenI just can't get over you / I've got your love ~ JEWEL 838 (1973)


Note ~ "I just can't get over you" can be found on the Westside UK CD "Soul Jewels Vol 1".

I am very grateful to John"Soul" Smith for all the excellent background info, and to Garry Cape and Mike Finbow as well.


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