Live at Montreux

Dennis Brown

(LP - Radiation Records / Radiation Reissues #RRS 52)

Review by David Jeffries

The gushing liner notes make it sound like you've just purchased the reggae Live at Leeds, but this 1979 concert from Dennis Brown isn't that gripping. It bounces from great to very good depending how Brown's voice is holding up and the tightness of the band. "So Jah Say" hits the stage hard with Brown and his backing We the People Band firing on all cylinders. Brown's voice gets gruff after that, which isn't the best place for a crooner of lovers rock to be. He recovers just in time for a blistering take on "Yabby You" but he's pushing hard and pays for it. The closing double-time version of "Money in My Pocket" is a good example of how Brown toughened up at the end of the '70s and it's a shame his throat isn't up to the challenge. Like so many other reggae records, this one is overly available with plenty of label and cover choices out there to confuse shoppers. Packing in a DVD of the show makes this the one to get but don't expect to be blown away by the video quality. Like the show, it's rough. With all this spirit coming from the singer and his band, you can't help but feel one night this way or that way, this was the show to hear. Since they aren't on disc, Live at Montreux has to do. With the DVD, this is at least a better history lesson than the other labels have offered.