Dennis Brown

Greatest Hits [JA]

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With as prolific and successful an artist as Dennis Brown, a parsimonious 14-track set is never really going to cut it, not when there's a wealth of chubbier compilations to choose from. Furthermore, as for the title Greatest Hits, while many of these songs were indeed hits in Jamaica, Brown only recorded three numbers that actually entered the international charts (i.e. British), but you won't find any of them here. What you do get, however, is a fairly decent selection of songs drawn from the roots era, virtually all produced by Niney the Observer, who assisted Brown in his makeover from emotive, teen-aged balladeer to soulful, cultural hero. The pair unleashed a deluge of singles during the mid-'70s, before the singer moved on to record equally crucial material with other producers, including "Whip Them Jah Jah," cut for Joe Gibbs. Brown did release a few clunkers during these years, but not many, and none are featured on this set. All of these songs here are superb, "Westbound Train," "Cassandra," "Here I Come Again," "Africa" -- every one is a classic -- as are the rest of the tracks here. Greatest Hits is by no means a bad set, it's just a miserly one, and with so much more phenomenal music to be had, it's just not a particularly worthwhile purchase.

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