Barrington Levy

Love Your Brother Man: The Early Years

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Since acquiring Trojan's deep catalog, Sanctuary has done a very good to excellent job with the seminal reggae label when it comes to single-artist collections. With vibrant and informative packaging, a crucial track list, and some 12" mixes that are truly stunning, Love Your Brother Man falls into the "excellent" category. Covering Barrington Levy's early years, what you have here is the blueprint for dancehall singing that held on strong up until the gruff badmen made things much more frantic in the mid-'80s. Levy took the standard roots croon and added a bouncy hiccup to it that emphasizes emotion and allowed singers a totally new, less mannered way to show off their skills. Levy made delivery much more important than pitch control; here, you can listen to how it happened. Slang-filled, feel-good numbers intermingle with righteous spiritual tracks with Levy's effervescence holding it all together. Familiar riddims from Henry Lawes and Alvin Ranglin fill the disc with one cut from producer Whitfield Henry hinting at Levy's digital future. Later, a confident and more cultural Levy would have bigger hits than the ones here, but Love Your Brother Man is hungry and anxious Levy. Listening to him change dancehall music is fascinating.

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