The recording team of Carl and Norman featured Carl Cox and Norman McMillan and was affiliated in the early '60s with a dinky regional label which had the gall to name itself Empire. Chances are that an empire was not built with the royalties from these tracks, although the Buffalo Bop label, geared toward collectors of obscure rockabilly and country material, has made use of Carl and Norman material on four separate compilations, which must be worth something.

Carl and Norman were also Johnny Brown; that is to say that one of the duo's Empire sides came out under the Johnny Brown name in a rare instance of a recording act crediting itself as both a duo and a solo. More than one person is needed for an empire, however, perhaps the label was just trying to make it seem like it had lots of artists to release, the way a one-man film crew will create pseudonyms to cover various production credits.

Identified as a duo, the pair launched recording activities in the fall of 1960 with "Shooting for the Moon" and the cheerful "We're Happy." Johnny Brown material was also created at the same sessions. Two songs were released under that name, "Time After Time" (no relation to either the standard by Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne, or the Cyndi Lauper hit) and the petite and celestial "Little Angel." Then it seems both the duo and "solo" acts took a hiatus. In 1961, Carl and Norman either reissued or re-cut their first single -- rockabilly hepcats are welcome to glue their ears to the speaker and make a judgment on that issue. Finally, in 1962, a new Carl and Norman product appeared: "Climbing up the Ladder" certainly may have influenced "Stairway to Heaven," while "Love Has No Strings" can be interpreted as an ironic slap at guitarists. Neither Cox nor McMillan seem to have done any further recording, unless they came up with yet another name which nobody has caught onto. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi