The late Charles Brown (1922-1999) was/is one of the great pivotal figures in the history of blues and pop music. Brown sort of picked up where Nat "King" Cole left off when the latter segued from his elegant amalgam of blues balladry and small-group jazz to orchestrated, mellow/romantic pop. While not as quite jazz-leaning as Cole, Brown (whose heyday was the 1940s & 50s) had a comfortable/comforting crooning vocal style and a full-bodied, slyly sophisticated (he dug Art Tatum, he dug Franz Lizst) piano style that would influence Ray Charles and Dr. John as well as the style that in the mid-to-late 50s that’d come to be known as Rhythm & Blues.
After years in obscurity, Brown had a renaissance in the 80s (Bonnie Raitt was a big booster of CB, as were Elvis Costello and Buster Poindexter/David Johansen), which brings us, Dear Reader, to the album at hand. While the title would lead one to think "retrospective," it’s a slight misnomer - one disc is a previously unreleased live recording of a 1990 performance in NYC’s now-gone Lone Star Roadhouse, whilst disc two, a DVD, is a has the live show, a photo gallery, interviews, and some short films - music videos, if you will, from 1945. While the audio disc is not quite Brown at his very best (the voice isn’t what it was, the recording quality is a little dense), it IS very darn good, as Brown’s joie de vive and baby-let-me-take-you-home piano (try to sit still when "Joyce’s Boogie" is playing) more than compensates for any shortcomings. And, the classy, Deluxe booklet included is nearly worth the price of admission.