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     More   Dennis Brown     1981



The multi-billion dollar music industry is the fastest growing business in the world today, and Reggae is the fastest growing trend in that business today. Although nowhere approaching its potential in the United States, Reggae music has swept across Europe like wildfire. It has become the sound of freedom in parts of Africa, and has even become identifiable in Hawaii, Japan and the Far East. One of the rising stars whose career has taken off like a meteor is Dennis Brown, the Crown Prince of Reggae.

No over-night success, Brown began his career at the age of nine in Kingston, Jamaica. He became a protege of the local and powerful band leader Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, and learned his trade playing theatres, local clubs, and other West Indian islands. As he matured, he graduated to other producers, and soon his distinctive sound became not only recognizable but profitable. The hits came in quick succession: “No Man Is An Island,” “Silhouettes,” “Baby Don’t Do It,” “Things in Life,” and of course the ever popular “Money In My Pocket.” Not only did these hits top the Jamaican charts, they also rose to a point of prominence on the English and International charts.

Augmented with his singing success was his showmanship and the name Dennis Brown has become synonymous with a good show. At the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1979, Brown, although not the headline act, stole the show from Peter Tosh (formerly of Bob Marley and the Wailers), and more people were talking about Reggae than about Jazz before the Festival was over.

“I have always loved to sing and there are a lot of people who just love to hear me sing. Even when I was attending school, girls used to flock around and treat me to lunch to sing for them,” Dennis said in reminiscence. It was the success of “Money in My Pocket,” however, which broke Dennis Brown in England. Covering his own original, neither Brown nor his then producer/manager Joe Gibbs anticipated what would follow. The record got instant play in London, in particular the Camden, Chelsea, Mayfair, and Covent Gardens area, but then this was not unusual. When Disc Jockey Joe Levy, heard the song, he did the unprecedented and the unheard of by going on Capitol Radio with it instantly; and soon every other station was playing it as if it were the national anthem. Cover versions, pirated versions, and badly produced versions all cropped up and sold well, which helped sell the original even more. A European tour cemented Brown’s popularity and it left people talking of his scintillating showmanship. Overnight, his success was assured. Speaking of his music, Brown explains, “Because it is music you can feel, it becomes easy for everyone to identify with it.” When asked who influenced his music, Dennis recounts, “Back in my childhood I used to listen to The Impressions, Sam Cooke, The Drifters, Chuck Jackson, Ben E. King, The Temptations, Frogman Henry, Marty Robbins, Profesor Longhair and of course, local singers like Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bob Andy, Ken Lazarus, Derek Harriet, Delroy Wilson, Alton Ellis, Errol Dunkly, John Holt and Ken Boothe. I am definitely dedicated to Reggae, not funky, not disco, but to Reggae: that is my roots even though I still enjoy listening to soul music and other various types of music.”

In London, an interviewer has asked Dennis how he would feel about singing for a white company, to which he replied, “I am not prejudiced, I am not a racist. You must treat a man as a man, with respect, and with the thought of doing unto others as they would do unto you. We are all brethren, but from different races. Anyone who fights with a man over the color of his skin has very little knowledge or understanding.”

Dennis is trying to impress on to his DEB label artists some of his knowledge and understanding. He explains that he is trying to groom them and hone their crafts, so that although it will be Reggae music they will be performing, it will also be acceptable to the world at large.

With the signing of his new A&M contract, Dennis Brown is ready for the world at large, and like any meteor, his way to the top will be paved with hits: and on this album there are quite a few of them.

by G. Fitz Bartley 1981

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