Dennis Brown

The Crown Prince

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The Crown Prince is the follow-up to Beautiful Morning, Dennis Brown's first album for the World Records label. Although some of the titles may sound familiar from other artists' hits -- "Candy Girl" and "Cheri Amour" included -- none of the tracks are actually covers. Instead, this set is comprised mostly of new numbers alongside a few old songs, beautifully re-recorded. With the riddims supplied by a coterie of Jamaican greats, Sly Dunbar, Danny Browne, Steely Johnson, and Mafia & Fluxy among them, all laying down a stream of cheery, upbeat reggae backings, this set is guaranteed to brighten up the grayest day. From the sweet-as-sugar "Cheri Amour" across the bouncy "Sunshine of My Love" and on to the bright-as-a-button "Have a Heart," this set is pure feel-good reggae. Then again, when you're reviving riddims like the Heptones' well-favored "Get in the Groove," as the band does for "Ababa Jahdi," or splaying horns across a roots reggae backing like "Take Me There," it's hard to go wrong. Even "Call Me Fire," a splendid version of Aswad's dramatic "Love Fire," sparkles. Brown's own performances easily equal those of the musicians, with most of his themes revolving around love and romance. "Candy Girl" puts itself in the running for the best make-up song ever, "Have a Heart" will pull your heartstrings, and who could resist the lyrical love of "Amour"? Brown ignites the set on the aforementioned "Fire," and moves strongly into the cultural realm with "Ababa" and "See & Blind -- Hear & Deaf," a remake of a number the singer originally cut for Prince Jammy back in the '80s. To further sweeten the pot, nine of the songs are given superb dub workouts at the end of the set, giving all the musicians a further chance to shine. Brown's releases had become a bit erratic in previous years, but this set squashed all suggestions that the singer's career was tumbling into oblivion.

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