No single-CD compilation could even begin to scratch the surface of Dennis Brown's best recordings, least of all one with a mere 15 tracks, but in its favor, Love & Hate: The Best of Dennis Brown does provide some welcome variety. Highlighting both the singer's romantic numbers and cultural classics, and trawling through his '70s and '80s canons, this compilation attempts to sum up Brown's oeuvre in broad strokes. Eschewing his early years at Studio One, and any sense of chronology, the set kicks off with what would become a Brown standard, 1977's "Here I Come." However, the story really begins back in 1972, when the singer left Studio One and began recording with other producers, including Derrick Harriott, for whom he cut "Silhouettes," and Joe Gibbs, who released "Money in My Pocket" which, when recut in 1979, would jangle up the British charts. Even so, the teenager was yet to break out of his own mold, until, that is, he met up with Niney the Observer . Under the Observer's aegis, Brown unleashed a tsunami of singles, quickly maturing into one of Jamaica's most revered cultural heroes. Among the classics which earned him this status were "Wolves and Leopards," "Cassandra," and "Westbound Train." If Brown never recorded another song, his reputation would still have been assured. But the young singer was nowhere near through, and in 1976, he moved into self-production, with "Promised Land" and "Stop Your Fighting" (aka "Stop Your Fussing & Fighting," aka "Together Brothers") illustrating the quality of this work. Still, Brown continued cutting singles for other producers, and in 1979 reunited with Gibbs for a series of stunning albums; "Should I," (from their Words of Wisdom LP) dates from their first year back together. As styles shifted in the dancehalls, Brown linked up with Prince Jammy, but none of that excellent material is featured here. Instead, the set looks at his work with the equally hot producers Sly & Robbie, who oversaw such mid-'80s smash hits as "Revolution," "Sitting & Watching," and "Have You Ever Been in Love." Although it doesn't provide a career-spanning overview, Love & Hate still covers a lot of ground, sweeping across the highlights of this revered singer's greatest work.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene