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Rock & Roll (Numbered Limited Edition Reissue)

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Rock & Roll, indeed. Ruth Brown’s sizzling full-length debut — also known by its eponymous title — symbolizes what was exciting, fresh, invigorating, and raw about the burgeoning style in its halcyon days. Originally released in 1957, and reissued here in audiophile quality for the first time in partnership with Atlantic Records’ 75th anniversary, the set remains a testament to one of the most pioneering and talented vocalists to ever command a stage.

Mastered on Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's renowned mastering system in California, pressed at RTI, housed in a Stoughton jacket, and strictly limited to 2,000 numbered copies, Mobile Fidelity’s 180g mono LP of Rock & Roll plays with an immediacy, vibrancy, and fullness that showcase the reach, power, and emotionalism of Brown’s voice. The sound of her support musicians — brassy horns, swinging rhythm combos, echoing backing vocalists, rollicking pianists, jaunty guitarists — is made clear and vivid, helping the upbeat fare to jump, juke, and jive with newfound energy and exuberance. In a related manner, Brown’s slower, more understated material crackles with an intimacy and passion that let you know you're in the presence of a woman who has lived what she sings. The longtime Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member deserves nothing less.

In an era dominated by big-throated vocalists, few — if any — came grander than Brown. The singer, whose repeat million-selling ‘50s success with Atlantic Records led many to call the then-indie label “The House That Ruth Built,” charted two dozen R&B hits in the span of a decade for the fledgling imprint. Rightly coined “Miss Rhythm,” the extroverted Brown put Atlantic on the national map, became the best-selling female musician of the ‘50s, and established a precedent that would ultimately lead to Grammy and Tony Awards. Her early works have lost none of their fire or flair.

Akin to many full-length LPs of its era, Rock & Roll doubles as a collection. Its 14 tracks comprise some of the more famous sides Brown recorded for Atlantic, beginning in 1949 with the all-time-great rendition of the ballad “So Long,” and continuing through 1956. After the song caught the public’s ear, the Virginia native briefly became known for her smoldering style with lovelorn material and torch songs, approaching them (see “Oh What a Dream,” “Old Man River”) with a combination of pained sadness and hardened resilience that had no contemporary equal. Encouraged to pursue the style by Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmt Ertegun, her R&B-driven material soon made her a constant chart presence.

Demonstrating what fellow legend Bonnie Raitt deemed “sex with class and dignity,” Brown merges blues and jazz, swing and gospel in electrifying fashion. She dares you not to move, dance, and get on your feet. A majority of Rock & Roll explodes with uptempo runs and jaunty readings of hot-blooded R&B numbers. Sweaty and sultry, bawdy and bold, Brown eclipses the anthemic blare of the saxophones and joyful clatter of the 88s, singing with a slight catch in her voice and hurricane-gale force that threatens to blow the roof off whatever room her voice occupies.

Released: TBC 2024
Cat: LMF548
Label: Mobile Fidelity

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Tracklist 

1. Lucky Lips
2. As Long as I’m Moving
3. Wild Wild Young Men
4. Daddy Daddy
5. Mambo Baby
6. Teardrops from My Eyes
7. Hello Little Boy
8. Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean
9. 5-10-15 Hours
10. It’s Low Baby
11. Sentimental Journey
12. Old Man River
13. So Long
14. Oh What a Dream

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