May 20, 1991 12:00 PM

Brownie Ford

This is a debut album with a difference—mainly, cowboy balladeer Brownie Ford didn’t even set foot in a recording studio until he was 84 years old.

The man isn’t a procrastinator; he has just been kind of busy. Thomas Edison Ford was born in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory in 1904, the son of a sharecropper and a Comanche woman. Over the years, he has worked as a ranch hand, cowboy and bayou storekeeper, and traveled the South and Southwest with wild West shows, circuses, medicine shows and rodeos. You sure can’t tell his age by listening to this unique collection, especially on “Don’t Lei the Deal Go Down,” where he sounds coltishly frisky—remarkably like the whippersnapper Neil Young, in fact.

At times he dips down into a spelunking baritone on songs like “Dusty Skies” and “Only a Hangman.” Mostly, though, there’s a deeper, more smoke-cured country pitch to Ford’s voice, as on “Code of the Mountains,” a tale of deadly retribution.

His voice occasionally gets a little ragged, and he has trouble holding a tune. But this new kid on the block has an undeniable style and a wonderful repertoire of old-fashioned songs. (Flying Fish)”

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