Between Heaven and Hell
As I searched through the new arrivals at the Princeton Record Exchange, I kept coming back to this album. I knew nothing about Oscar Brown Jr.had never even heard of the guybut the pain communicated in the album title and cover art intrigued me. Even if it turned out that I didn't like the music, I'd at least get an interesting piece of art. And for just four bucks!
Turned out I liked the music.
In fact, I was pretty much blown away. Again, judging from the album art and liner notes, I was expecting something like a male Nina Simonea deep burning anguishbut it was nothing like that at all.
Oscar Brown Jr. is, as PREX general manager Jon Lambert said, "one cool cat." This music erupted from my system with solid, fleshy images set within a vast soundstage. The music swings with a big-band beatnik feel, horns trading off with bongos, and Oscar Brown singing his poetry.
Released in 1961, my copy of Between Heaven and Hell is pristine, drop-dead quiet, and beautiful.