It's not exactly clear how Sonic Sounds is defining "early" -- in most people's minds, Dennis Brown's Early Days would encompass his childhood recordings from Studio One, none of which are featured here. Nor will you find any of the music the singer recorded in the early '70s after departing Studio One, with the compilation only kicking in after Brown linked up with producer Niney the Observer circa 1973. Over half this set is dedicated to Brown's cuts for Niney, and a stellar collection it is. Most, but not all of the tunes are cultural in theme, highlighting the effect the older (by four years) man had on the teen-aged star, and helping to transform him from a young balladeer into a mature, conscious-raising artist. The pair released a deluge of Jamaican hits, but it was Joe Gibbs who would finally take Brown into the international charts, kicking off with "Money in My Pocket." That smash isn't included here, but you do get a clutch of other excellent numbers cut for the mighty Gibbs and his engineer/producing partner Errol Thompson. Even as Brown was unleashing stellar single after single for the Mighty Two and Niney, the singing star was also releasing a stream of excellent self-produced singles, "Emmanuel," "Party Time," and "Promised Land" (here retitled "Lately Girl") among them. Dennis Brown was wound up before the decade was out, and this set, highlighting the second half of the '70s, does the same. Although it doesn't capture Brown's early days at all, Early Days is an excellent collection from the height of his roots period.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene