Dennis Brown

Believe in Yourself

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In the wake of Dennis Brown's tragically early death, a multiplicity of albums hit the shops, each claiming to be his last. The prolific singer recorded right up to the bitter end, thus making it virtually impossible to establish the veracity of any of these set's claims. Believe in Yourself, however, puts forth a good case, and more importantly, a solid set of songs worthy of attention. The set was recorded in NYC, at Brown's favorite haunt, Don One Recording Studio, with production credits shared by Don Moodie, Noel Alphonso (son of the legendary Skatalite saxophonist Roland), engineer Bill Sample, and Brown himself. The album features a set of stunningly lavish dancehall riddims, all flush with melody and bolstered with brass. The title track kicks off the set in fine fashion, a sumptuous take on the evergreen, ever popular "Get in the Groove" riddim, that is the perfect backdrop for Brown's powerful, positive message. "Believe in Yourself" is one of the few cultural numbers on the set, however, although "A Winner" does contain religious overtones. The bulk of the album, then, is given over to affairs of the heart, from the sweet romance of "Right Time to Show You," a set standout, to the warmth of "Glow." But not all relationships end happily, as Brown discovers on "Nice Bad Minded Friend," leading him to bid his baby bye bye on "I'll Be on My Way." For the powerful "It's a Fact," the singer's joined by two of the Manning brothers, making clear the fate of those who try to hold them down.

All in all, Believe in Yourself is a fine set, but even stronger material would soon follow it into the shops. Regardless, there's enough lovely music here to include it in your collection, not least of all for Brown's glorious cover of the Silvertones' 1977 smash "Smile."

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