Brown, Otis: South Side Chicago LP
Chicago’s tangled web of micro labels and small time players is no better illustrated than by the career of Otis Brown. In his ten years on the scene, Brown ran four imprints, warmed stages for Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and Alvin Cash, greased the palms of the city’s top DJs, wrote a theme song for his beloved southside, recorded a Jackson 5 cash-in with his son Otis III, and produced a handful of heavenly girl group sides. Brown arrived in Chicago with his mother in the early ’50s by way of Memphis. His first forays in the music business came via his mother’s occasional boyfriend Browley Guy, a slick crooner who’d cut 78s for Checker and States, but was looking to make a label play. Brown, his uncle King David Bevill, and Browley set up Olé Records in the summer of 1966 to issue Otis Brown & the Delights’ “Southside Chicago,” which despite a lot of palm greasing and cajoling by all three partners failed to break outside the eponymous geographic area. Other than Brown, the label only issued a single by his girlfriend Rose Rice’s group, The Para-Monts. He felt burned by his older partners and restarted under the banner of Lujuna Records, named for his eldest daughter. Primarily a vanity imprint for his own efforts, Brown also recruited local talent, including The Soulettes, Samuel Lovelee, Brand New Faces, Presidents Council, and WVON DJ Joe Cobb. To keep his brand fresh, he also issued some titles under the ExSpectMore imprint, though the catalog system was consistent between the two brands (and some titles came out under either heading, confusingly). Although several titles sold well, the losses mounted up and he cut them loose, moving to Dallas in 1972, ceasing his efforts as producer, performer, and entrepreneur.