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 guy—but 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 Simone—a deep burning anguish—but 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.

struts's picture

Looks like I am going to have to badger my old man into giving me this one too. I don't specifically remember it, Sin and Soul was the one I always wanted him to play with its fun tracks like 'Signifyin' Monkey' and 'Dat Dere'. However something tells me I just gotta check it out...

Robert's picture

Last year I bought a case full of old LPs including a Luis Prima live record. Wow. I always wanted to know who sang on most (if not all) gangster-mafia movie soundtracks. Now I know. A real classic!In the same case load I got a Trini Lopez LP (La Bamba live)... you never know.