Dennis Brown

UMOJA/20th Century DEBwise

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The British Blood and Fire label continued its string of Dennis Brown reissues with UMOJA/20th Century DEBwise, an excellent two-fer that compiles two long out of print dub albums, from 1978 and 1979, respectively. Brown, who produced each of the 21 tracks in total here, collaborated with Prince Jammy on these two efforts. Jammy gave these productions his uniformly amazing dub-mix treatment, and the result is what you might expect: King Tubby-style dubs highlighting the instrumentation of a very talented band featuring the likes of Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Ansel Collins, Winston Bowen, Eric Lamont, Cedric Brooks, Uziah "Sticky" Thompson, Junior Delgado, and more. Particular tracks don't stand out per se as this is a collection of music best listened to uninterrupted, from the opening song on. If you're hip to Brown's deep '70s canon, you may recognize some of these dubs (for instance, "The Truth" is a recut of "The Half," "Mercy for the Needy" is one of "Troubled World," "Sons of Dust" of "Children of Israel/Listen to the Wise Words," "Cool Runnings" of "Frozen Soul," etc.). There's also an appended bonus track, "General Version," which was the B-side dub of "Want to Be No General," a 45 rpm single Brown had released via DEB Music in 1979. It's a very welcome inclusion -- perhaps the most standout song here, and certainly a great finale for this otherwise sparse and instrumental collection. Though UMOJA/20th Century DEBwise might seem nonessential -- a simple two-fer of otherwise forgotten albums -- it's actually a stellar release that Blood and Fire was wise to issue. The collaboration here between the productions of Brown, the musicianship of this talented band, and the dub mixing of Jammy is ideal, and that all of this can be compiled on one release that plays from beginning to end seamlessly is all the more ideal.

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