This wonderful twofer came out at the back end of 2009 but for all kinds of complicated reasons our review copy has only just shown up… but the wait was well worth it. Memphis’ Randy Brown has long been known to the soul cognoscenti and his almost cult status rests chiefly on the two hugely collectable albums reissued here. ‘Welcome To My Room’ came out in 1978 and ‘Midnight Desire’ was first issued in 1980 and both reveal a real old school soul singer whose southern roots and Stax-based apprenticeship shine through on each cut. Vocally, Brown readily admits that he styled himself on David Ruffin – but listen in and you’ll also hear traces of Tyrone Davis, Sam Dees and Teddy Pendergrass. The Teddy P connection is most obvious on the searing ‘I’d Rather Hurt Myself'( which writers Homer Banks and Carl Hampton clearly based on the Bluenotes’ ‘I Miss You’) and their ‘I Love You Baby’ which sees Randy imitating Teddy’s warm oil, turn down the lights, chill the Chablis mode. Both those cuts come from the ‘Welcome To My Room’ album whose other highlights include the ultra-catchy ‘I’m Always In The Mood’ ‘ and the dramatic old school ballad, ‘Too Little In Common’. Plenty of soul goodies on ‘Midnight Desire’ too – notably the bouncy ‘Love Formula’ and the big ballads ‘You’re So Good’ and ‘The Next Best Thing To Being There’. Some of the music – I’m thinking ‘The Things I Could Do For You’ and ‘Love Be With You’ – is almost throwaway disco but Brown’s remarkable voice carries it all through. Two great albums, then, making this an essential soul reissue. Ironically , though both albums were steady sellers (‘Welcome To My Room’ shifted 300,000 copies) Randy never managed to consolidate his success, blaming lack of label interest in setting up live work and TV spots for him. He eventually took a job working in health care and though he has performed and recorded since, these two albums represent the pinnacle of his musical career.