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Dennis Brown' People Be Free

Dennis Brown' People Be Free

Dennis Brown' People Be Free

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Third compilation of Dennis Brown out on Orange Street label with cuts produced by Niney The Observer, Derrick Harriot and more

Sampler

Dennis Brown - People Be FreeThe third in the series of Dennis Brown compilations issued on Orange Street is a mixture of different producers, different eras and familiar songs under different titles. There are no sleevenotes, many of the compositions appear to have been written by “unknown”, and no information at all is given as to who produced what. But while prospective buyers should take care to listen first in case they have some of these songs already, there’s nothing mixed about the quality of the music present here.

The compilers have eschewed Brown’s more familiar cuts for Joe Gibbs in favour of his funkier, rougher edged work for Winston Niney Holness. Yet several of the tracks come from other top flight desk men, most notably the Clive Chin helmed 'Cheater' (retitled 'You’re My Enemy') and the Derrick Harriott produced 'Let Me Down Easy' (here called 'Give Me Time').

The Niney tracks count as some of Dennis’ strongest. The fire and brimstone funk of 'Open The Gates' (called 'Come To See The King'), the cheerfully apocalyptic 'Melting Pot', and 'You’re No Good' are prime examples of what was arguably one of the most successful partnerships in seventies roots. The southern soul flavour of these Observer productions may be the reason they are not as highly rated as they should be – through the lens of hindsight they are a throwback to the days before reggae shook off its US influences and its image as a poor cousin of soul.

But the real surprise on this compilation is the strength of the digital cuts. From the Mr Bassie rhythmed 'All Over My Body' to the brilliantly evocative 'Stop The Fighting I Am Sleeping', there is no discernable downturn in quality and the “grab-bag” approach (over strict chronology) works exceptionally well.

Mistitling, failure to give credit where it’s due… welcome to the crazy world of reggae reissues. But as a good “in at the deep end” introduction to this incredible singer, showing his scope and versatility over the years, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this CD.

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