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 Brian Bassie Atkinson


Booking Kit
Dennis Brown (Deceased):
music producer, arranger, songwriter, hit singer, international recording artiste.

The great Jamaican singer Dennis Brown has died in Kingston at the age of 42. Dennis first entered the recording industry, like so many other notable Jamaican artists, at Clement Dodd's Studio One in 1970. The first hit was 'No Man Is An Island', and was also the title of his debut album, which was followed in 1971 by another set, 'If I Follow My Heart'.

Breaking away from Studio 1, he found himself in the capable hands of Derrick Harriott, who coaxed an extremely mature performance from the teenage singer on the album, 'Super Reggae & Soul Hits'. The popular tracks from the album at the time were 'Changing Times', 'He Can't Spell' and 'Silhouette'.

Following this he entered the most productive part of his career, teaming up with Joe Gibbs for the original version of his hit 'Money In My Pocket' in 1972, and then Winston 'Niney' Holness, with whom he recorded some of his greatest works.

For Niney he cut the classic 'Cassandra' and 'Westbound Train' singles in 1974, and the album that came the following year, 'Just Dennis', confirmed his status in the business as one of it's most bankable assestts. That album not only featured the hit singles, but also the inspired 'No More Will I Roam', 'Conqueror' and a reading of th Gaylads 'Africa'.

Following on from this album, there was a gap of 2 years before the next Niney produced set, 'Wolves & Leopards'. The wait was certainely worth it. Although all the tracks were available on single at some time or another, 'Here I Come' and the title track, are two of the finest tunes Dennis ever produced. Other cuts of note on the album were 'Children Of Isreal' and 'Created By The Father'.

In 1978, Dennis consolidated his reputation by reuniting with Joe Gibbs for a series of hit singles and classic albums. The first of these was 'Visions', which featured 'Malcolm X', 'Concrete Castle King' and 'Stay At Home', and this was followed in 1979 by 'Words Of Wisdom' and 'Joseph's Coat Of Many Colours'. 'Words Of Wisdom' contained a re-recording of 'Money In My Pocket' that gave Dennis his first of three UK chart hits in March '79. This was followed by a version of Alton Ellis' 'Ain't That Loving You', which although failing to make the national chart, sold extremely well to Dennis' grass roots following.

Having set up his own Yvonne's Special label, Dennis continued to work with the cream of Jamaican producers. He enjoyed several hits with the all conquering Sly & Robbie at the turn of the decade, including 'Sitting & Watching', 'Hold On To What You've Got' and the awesome 'Revolution', and in 1982 signed an international deal with A&M Records.

The subsequent album, 'Love Has Found It's Way', led to two more UK chart hits, (the title track & 'Halfway Up Halfway Down'), and was again produced by Joe Gibbs, assisted by Willie Lindo. This set was followed up by 'The Prophet Rides Again', an album which had a decidedly funkier feel, although the title track is a Dennis Brown classic.

Another classic came in 1983, when Dennis took the rhythm track from Aswad's 'Love Fire' from their 1981 album 'New Chapter', and versioned it into the sublime 'Promised Land'. 1984 heralded the release of the 'Love's Got A Hold On Me' album, a 6 track affair featuring a recut of 'Let Love In', originally recorded for Phil Pratt in the early '70's, and there was also a joint showcase album with Gregory Isaacs ('Judge Not').

In early 1985, Prince Jammy unleashed the pivotal 'Sleng Teng' rhythm on an unsuspecting public. Dennis' first attempts at the new 'digital' style were recorded for veteran producer Bunny Lee, who issued 'I'll Get On Without You' on his cut of the rhythm. Although he seemed to find it hard to adjust to the modern style, this didn't stop Dennis continuing to enjoy hits.

Later that year he recorded the duet 'Let Off Supm' with Gregory Isaacs, for producer Gussie Clarke, and also issued 'Revolution Part 2', a follow up to his earlier classic. Even a reggae update of the classic show tune 'Old Man River' was a hit, and there was an album for Jammy's, 'Slow Down'.

By September, he was again recording in a combination style, this time with veteran singer John Holt. Their hit 'Wild Fire' led to an album of the same name, on which the pair duetted as well as singing solo. Jackie Mittoo produced the hit 'Rebel With A Cause', a digital cut to Johnny Clarke's 'None Shall Escape Judgement', but many of Dennis' early computerised recordings were lyrically lightweight. It seemed that for the first time in his career, the over exposure that so many Jamaican artists suffer from, was having a belated effect.

Finally, he managed to settle into the digital groove. Jammy's produced the popular 'Exit' album, afterwhich Dennis regained his foothold in the market. He recorded another hit duet with Gregory Isaacs for Gussie Clarke, 'Big All Round', and the album 'Unchallenged' followed this. By the early to mid '90's, he was receiving serious competition from upcoming, younger singers such as Garnett Silk and Luciano, but no matter what he did, the public always held Dennis close to their hearts.

With Dennis' sudden passing, there is an irreplaceable gap in the music. No one sounded quite like him, his roots message was acceptable to a far wider audience than just the reggae market, yet it remained undiluted. He could turn his hands to all styles, lovers rock, reality themes and even dancehall and still sound convincing.

Dennis Brown, the Crown Prince is gone, but he will never be forgotten.



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