Time 1 Records/Greensleeves
November 1, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Following on the heels of Johnny Clarke and Linval Thompson, youth singer Barry Brown penetrated the early dancehall scene of the late '70s with a slue of durable roots records that today stand as evergreen gems. Like Clarke, Thompson, Sammy Dread, Rod Taylor, Sugar Minott and other popular vocalists of the day, Brown brought an immediate, street-level atmosphere to his records. His passionately raw delivery wasn't candy-coated sweet or silky smooth. It was simple, direct, amicable and real. He teamed up with producer Bunny lee and after releasing a string of successful singles in the late '70s, beginning with "Girl You're Always On My Mind", Lee issued the albums "Showcase", "Step It Up Youth Man" and "Barry Brown Superstar" (the latter released only in Canada). Each contained hit singles such as "Big Big Pollution", "No Wicked Shall Enter" and "Lead Us Jah Jah". Before the '80s Barry Brown was a dancehall star with a proven track record of hit singles.
Other producers approached him about making a tune or two. One of the first was Lloyd Daley who unleashed "Put Down Your Guns" for Daley's Matador label, followed by "We Will All Feel The Pain". By 1980 Brown had several disco mixes on the market including combination 12inches with deejays like Toyan ("Peace & Love"), Jah Thomas ("Jealous Lover") and Ranking Joe ("Don't Take No Steps").
He released a couple of singles on his own Jabba Roots label and in 1980 put out the now classic roots album "Cool Pon Your Corner" on Trojan Records. His next self-produced album was "Barry Brown - Superstar" (different from the Bunny Lee produced album) also released in 1980. He made it to the top of the charts with records produced by Henry "Junjo" Lawes, Coxsone Dodd, Ernest Hoo Kim and Winston Holness. Probably his best known hit is the Hoo Kim/Channel One production "Far East". The album of the same name is another early dancehall masterpiece featuring crucial tracks like "Run Wicked Man", "Stand Firm" and "So Jah Jah Say". Just before the birth of digital reggae he teamed up with producer Jah Screw for the superb album "Right Now".
Whether it was Stur Gav, Prince Jammy's Hi-Fi, Black Scorpio or any other top sound, Brown's exceptional voice was always part of the mix during the dawn of the dancehall. Except for the 1991 album Same Sound, the 2001 released Mafia & Fluxy Present Barry Brown - Reggae Heights, the Studio One LP "Roots & Culture" from 2003 and the Moll-Selekta compilation cd Rich Man Poor Man - 1978-1980, we haven't seen that many releases from Barry Brown in the past decade. Barry Brown died Saturday May 29, 2004, on the premises of the Soundwave Recording Studio at Ivy Green Crescent in Kingston.
Finally the singer's 1984 classic "Right Now" set gets a proper re-issue. The album was recorded, voiced and mixed at the legendary Channel One Studios, Kingston, Jamaica. Engineered by the legendary Barnabas, and as mentioned before Jah Screw took care of the production matters. Greensleeves makes us very happy with this re-issue. The original album has been extended with eight dubs, showcasing the musical qualities of the Roots Radics and Lloyd Parks' We The People Band in full effect. But that's not all. Also included is the in-demand sound-system favourite "Mafia" (complete with dub) and Tristan Palma's version (No Shot Nuh Fire) of Brown's Jukes And Watch, both tunes on the 1983 riddim 'Special Request'.
This powerful set has nuff, nuff exciting moments, kicking off in heavy style with Sister Magling a tune across the ever classic 'Shank I Sheck' riddim. The dub is here as well! Very enjoyable is Make It With You, his interpretation of the 'Cuss Cuss' riddim. Weird, but still enjoyable is You Don't Remember, the reggae version of the 1958 US tearjerker 'Tears On My Pillow' by Little Anthony & The Imperials. Guide And Protect Us is a classic roots tune, while I Give My Love sees him in relaxed lovers style, riding The Heptones' 'I Hold The Handle' riddim.
Wonderful release... This is the way how re-issues should be!