Dennis Brown

Crown Prince of Reggae: The Best of Dennis Brown

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When these 25 songs were first bundled up onto a Dennis Brown compilation back in 1982, the resulting set presented a sweeping view of the singer's career since he had first begun to come to world attention. Crown Prince: The Best of Dennis Brown began the singer's story in 1972, when his records first began seeing regular release in the U.K., and a couple of years after he'd departed Studio One. Producer Lloyd Daley released "Things in Life" in 1970, with "It's Too Late" arriving the following year. Herman Chin-Loy, meanwhile, released "Baby Don't Do It" in 1971; his cousins, the Chins would oversee 1972's "The Cheater." That was a good year for Brown fans, as the singer's Derrick Harriott produced Super Reggae and Soul Hits album hit the shops, as well as the singles "Concentration" and "Lips of Wine." And then there was the momentous "Money in My Pocket" single, the beginning of two legendary partnerships, one with producer Joe Gibbs, the other with the singles' engineer, Niney the Observer. There's a slew of seminal Niney productions here, a reflection of just how prolific this pairing was, until Brown broke away and went back to the studio rounds, simultaneously launching his own DEB label. Among the producers the singer linked up with were Phil Pratt, who oversaw both "Let Love In" and the smash cover of "Black Magic Woman," and Augustus "Gussie" Clarke who released "Funny Feeling." By the end of the '70s, however, Brown was back at Gibbs' side and riding up the British charts with a recut of "Money." Both the 1972 original and the re-recorded smash hit bookend this set; the only stab at chronology this compilation takes. Regardless, the numbers are virtually all high quality, showcasing the wide variety of Brown's work both thematically and stylistically with many of the island's top producers. There's still many more crucial cuts to be had, but this is a great place to start.

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