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Dennis Brown at Joe Gibbs

Dennis Brown at Joe Gibbs

Dennis Brown at Joe Gibbs

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4CD box set showcasing the Crown Prince of Reggaes work with Joe Gibbs.


Dennis Brown’s singing career began in the late sixties when, at just 11 years old, he came to the attention of the legendary owner of Jamaica's Studio One record label Coxsone Dodd. His first record was a cover of the doo-wop hit No Man Is An Island, which revealed him to have a talent mature far beyond his years. The single was an immediate hit in Jamaica, and led to his first album, of the same title in 1970.

Dennis Brown at Joe GibbsAs Dennis matured his voice strengthened and works with producers Lloyd Daley and especially Winston "Niney The Observer" Holness made him a well respected and much in demand performer in Jamaica. It wasn’t however until the release of 'Visions' in 1977 that Brown, who was now teamed up with the Mighty Two, Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson, major crossover potential was to be brought to the fore. The production that Gibbs and Thompson applied to his smooth, reassuring voice and his comfortable range soon made him an obvious target for major labels seeking another international success story a kin to Marley.

To compliment Brown’s vocals on 'Visions' Gibbs pulled together a backing band of well seasoned musicians including the likes of Sly and Robbie, Lloyd Parks, Vin Gordon, Bobby Ellis and Tommy McCook, which with their effortless flexibility complemented his polished delivery admirably. Lyrically the album is typical reggae fare, covering the plight of the sufferers, repatriation and deep held Rastafarian beliefs along with lovers tales like Love Me Always and a cover of Ray Charles' This Little Girl of Mine. The album went straight to the top of the reggae album charts on its release and was voted reggae album of the year by both Melody Maker and Black Echoes in the UK and this all despite only being available as a high priced import.

CD2 features the follow up album 'Words of Wisdom' from 1978, with this set firmly consolidating Brown in the position as the Crown Prince of Reggae. It is packed full of classics including So Jah Say, Should I, Black Liberation, Ain’t That Loving You and the #14 British chart hit Money In My Pocket, that brought Dennis to the attention of whole new audience.

Dennis Brown - Joe Gibbs albums

CD3 breaks away from the single album format by featuring the six vocal sides from 1984’s 'Love’s Gotta Hold on Me', which featured backing again from Sly and Robbie in their We The People Band guise. To bolster this disc VP have added another thirteen tracks of choice cuts like Let Love In, Created By The father, Open Up, I’m Coming Home Tonight and the soulful Historical Places.

The final CD is 'Reflections', which completes the story by gathering up a further nineteen tracks that serve as a real best of celebration. Songs include the original 1972 cut of Money In My Pocket, which with its slower and more bass heavy, melancholy feel is far better suited to the sentiments of the lyrics than that of the bright, skip along hit version. Other highlights include the sublime almost boss reggae of When You Are Down, the heart wrenching lovers of Get To Love In Time and Stop The Fussing And Fighting, on the Real Rock riddim. This disc also has a couple of reworked reggae classics in the form of a pounding Man Next Door a take on Dr Alimantados Poison Flour, John Holt’s Hooligan and the Alton Ellis big rocksteady hit Girl I’ve Got A Date.

Off the back of the success gained by some of these songs Dennis Brown signed a contract with A&M in the U.S in 1981. Unfortunately like many of Jamaica's most promising stars his music was largely mishandled and suffered from poor promotion. Now though VP has put together this essential set that shows him in his absolute prime and with the aid of The Mighty Two at the controls they created some timeless reggae classics that brought him to the verge of the major international success he so rightly should have deserved.

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