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Derek Pearson

So Who Exactly Was John L. Brown?

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I refer back to a thread I started on 18 December 2010 in which I stated that "I'd drafted summat dead interesting about Mister Mancha and was gonna tag on a couple o' sound clips to explain". Coughs. And a month went by.

So who exactly was John L. Brown?

John L. Brown with the Rayettes "I'm Losing You" (J. Brown, M. Davis, S. Mancha) 2:45 / "Sweet Young Love" (Like-It-Is 690) Produced by Nate Johnson.

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J. L. Brown "True Love"* 2:55 (J. L. Brown) / "Baby Baby"** 2:45 (J. Hall, J. Brown) (Clifton 501)

*Produced by Mr. Sol John L. Brown (think that should have read Mr Soul?)

** Produced by Jeanette Hall & John L. Brown.

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If John L. Brown wasn't a pseodnym for Steve Mancha well he certainly had a penchant for recording his songs then didn't he? Let me explain: out of the 4 songs recorded by Brown –in discussion here - 3 of them were previously sung by Mancha.

Listen to the sound clips and see what you think – aren't Mancha's "I Don't Want To Lose You", "Just Keep On Loving Me" and "I Won't Love And Leave You"; Brown's "I'm Losing You", "True Love" and "Baby Baby" respectively?

john l brown with the rayettes - i'm losing you - like it is

J.L. Brown - True Love - Clifton 501a

J.L. Brown - Baby Baby - Clifton 501b

Call me mental but I'd always thought J.L. Brown was infact Steve Mancha under another name. I'll be the first to admit I haven't got that type of acute hearing that can immediately distinguish different voices but even with my ears both singers sounded very similar indeed.

On first hearing I straight away recognised the pair of songs Brown cut on Clifton were songs Mancha had laid down previously at Groovesville. I just sorta assumed Brown had re-jigged the title to get round the copyright issue somehow.

So in December of last year after playing the Clifton 45 on radio, I thought I'd delve into the record a bit more and see what I could find out. And the more I did. The more the mystery box opened.

Within days of hearing me play "True Love" on the radio, fellow Soul Sourcer Premium Stuff contacted me to ask, 'what's the story on this Clifton 45'?

He suggested J.L. Brown was indeed Steve Mancha as John L. Brown on Like-It-Is Records was - he reckoned – the same man. To be honest I'd never heard of this Like-It-Is 45 before, but being the wizard at Maths that I am, I soon added two an' two.

My first port of call was a trawl through Popsike to see if details of either record were documented. Only one John L. Brown sale was listed from October 2010 at $115.

The UK seller described said 45 as: "The A side is to me actually Steve Mancha's "I Don't Want To Lose You" which came out on Groovesville. The flip chorus instrumental is more of a mystery!"

Which leads me to wonder if "Sweet Young Love" was maybe a previously unreleased Groovesville instrumental backing track or summat?

Similarly Popsike only mentions one sale of the Clifton single in November 2008 which went for £30.

A quick input of both the names used by Mister Brown into the search engines of the 2 major song writing websites of BMI and ASCAP turned up nothing at all.

A quick flick through Refosoul unearthed this sound clip posted by Diggin Dave on 2 March 2010.

Steve Mancha was born Clyde Darnell Wilson on Christmas, 1945 in Walhall, SC.

There have been numerous articles written over the years about this great singer/songwriter from South Carolina who travelled north and made Detroit his second home. But of all the ones I've seen there's no mention of, or any connection to, this mysterious John L. Brown.

So here's the punchline:

If Mancha was indeed J.L. Brown under another name were the latters simply a straight reissue of the earlier Detroit recordings or did Mancha re-record his material again to disguise it slightly.

And if Brown wasn't Mancha in a mask just who on earth was he?

Your thoughts and opinions welcomed.

derek

Steve Mancha RIP.

Edited by Derek Pearson

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Hi Derek, long time no hear, hope you are well etc etc.....

The John L Brown has always been a bit of a funny one. There are a few copies about and yet it commands a reasonable price, I've seen it sell for £200-300. Whether it is legit or not is open to some speculation. I was told once that it was a bootleg (though why such a slow side would be bootlegged is a bit of a mystery, unless for the Jamaicans or something) , and certainly the B side sounds like a "Wigan instrumental" from the mid 70s. Anyway it's a lovely record and one I too have played on occasions. Good luck in solving the mystery...I am sure it is actually Mancha as well by the way Steve

Edited by Steve G

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Hi Derek

Thought this very intriguing tale would have had a bit more action yes.gif

Stories of unconfirmed identity, reputed bootlegging etc. top quality stuff

Anyway, here's scan of the other side of the 45 so everyone can see the credits etc. Not 'Groovesville' as you can see.

Plus I'm uploading this track to Refosoul thumbsup.gif

Further comments and speculation welcome very welcome

Cheers

Richard

post-12286-0-10262100-1298068331_thumb.j

Edited by Premium Stuff

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I just got this from a seller in Jamaica. I already had one more Jamaican bootleg that I got him to cancel the auction on (it was a bootleg of some bo kirkland ruth davis track, with totally different artist names and credits, etc.). This record sounds just like steve mancha, I thought it did before I looked at it and saw the writing credits. If it is a Jamaican bootleg where did they get this unreleased song? An acetate?

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Hi Bob,

It's a weird one. It was on a Soul Bowl list in the early 80s for £5.

As I said before the B side sounds like an awful WIgan instrumental - nothing Jamaican about it at all.....more Soussan than anything.

All that being said still think it's actually a 'booty' that someone did. But who and for what reason and market?

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I know it !  don't know where from but definitely know it, can see why there are the Steve Mancha references .

 

Great record !

 

Rob - I'm pretty sure it is actually Steve Mancha - I Don't Want To Lose You (Groovesville) under another title.

 

Cheers

 

Richard

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Very interesting thread, I've always wondered what or who this actually was, but I'm with Derek and others above, id bet good money its Steve Mancha under another name...much like that karisma release on sonny craver.....

Suffice to say, it's still on my wants list...

Mal.c

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its not to dissimilar to the one on

Rare Stamps, JJ Barnes//Steve Mancha.

 

ricky.

It is Steve Mancha on rare stamps, exactly the same recording.

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I was around in Chicago and Detroit in the mid '60s, and never saw that record, or that label.  I'd guess it is a bootleg.  Those Clifton Records were probably pressed in the late '70s, so the Like It Is record may have been pressed then, as well.

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Hi Bob,

It's a weird one. It was on a Soul Bowl list in the early 80s for £5.

As I said before the B side sounds like an awful WIgan instrumental - nothing Jamaican about it at all.....more Soussan than anything.

All that being said still think it's actually a 'booty' that someone did. But who and for what reason and market?

 

So I knew the instrumental was familiar but I couldn't put my finger on it.

 

Then, last night I was reading an old fanzine and all the info was there.

 

Rod Dearlove's Midnite Express - what a fabulous mag that was - issue #4 from 1983 had a write up of this record. He had just picked up a copy from Soul Bowl at £6.00.

 

It then says ... "The flip is pretty weird, it's an exact copy of "It May Be Winter Outside", in fact it's the same backing track, the instrumental flip to Felice Taylor on Mustang."

 

Well here it is on the Mustang copy called "Winter Again".

 

Does this help shed any more light on things?

 

Cheers

 

Richard

 

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Ha ha Richard well spotted!

 

I wasn't far out was I? "Soussan instrumental" v "Felice Taylor instrumental", "Soul Bowl £5" v "Soul Bowl £6".....etc...I am still going with a NY Jamaican booty

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I just got this from a seller in Jamaica. I already had one more Jamaican bootleg that I got him to cancel the auction on (it was a bootleg of some bo kirkland ruth davis track, with totally different artist names and credits, etc.). This record sounds just like steve mancha, I thought it did before I looked at it and saw the writing credits. If it is a Jamaican bootleg where did they get this unreleased song? An acetate?

would that be the sonny and winsome thing bob

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I had a few of the Clifton records back in the 80s

There was a shop in Clifton NJ that re issued records for the group/doowop scene and would press up records for local acts.

I did find a John L. Brown in the phone book but never got a return call.

Clifton record is def a repop of some sort. Dunno about the LikeItIs one though

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As stated above, Clifton was run by the record shop owner, catering mainly to R&B/ Vocal Group Harmony (Doo Wop) market, and pressed up records from master tapes from local a capella groups, and pressed up new issues of previously-unreleased recordings from master tapes made in the '50s and early '60s.  Steve Mancha could have approached Clifton with new master tapes or re-cut songs, and they would have issued them, not knowing or even knowing enough to consider whether or not Don Davis' Groovesville Music would have still owned the publishing rights to those songs. 

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Yes, I have just listened to the Clifton tracks (had listened previously but that was back in 2011 when DP posted up the thread).

 

I agree - it's obvious all tracks are Steve Mancha - his voice is very distinctive  :yes:  :yes:  :yes:

 

Cheers

 

Richard

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