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Saturday, February 12, 2011
RAY BROWN AND THE WHISPERS - IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR
While I would make no claims that this cover in any way, shape or form stacks up to the wicked Wilson Pickett's version, this Australian version packs a particular wallop nonetheless (mostly in the hot brass and fuzzed out guitar). Hailing from Sydney, The Whispers (not to be confused with the great US vocal group) began life as a surf/ instrumental group until those pesky Beatles changed everything, at which point they recruited the good looking / OK singing Ray Brown as lead singer. I actually like the fact that Ray doesn't attempt to sing this song in any kind of blue eyed soul style; he basically sings it straight and it's kinda charming; the BAND on the other hand, is hot stuff indeed and I can just imagine them whipping a wild Aussie crowd into a frenzy (especially as this country was, sadly, true r&b deprived!)
Almost overnight, the group became a big success in Australia; even though OZ radio did not play American r&b, they loved it and covered many classics of the genre. There was no national chart at the time, but this record came close to #1 in both Sydney and Melbourne. And, like so much of this great Aussie beat music, was not released elsewhere.