Slow Down

Dennis Brown

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Slow Down Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

Dennis Brown's career went off the boil in the early '80s, until he paired up with Gregory Isaacs in 1984 and recorded two excellent albums, which turned back up the heat. The first, Two Bad Superstars Meet, was produced by Prince Jammy, and it was to him that the singer turned when he came to record 1985's Slow Down, which is now reissued by Greensleeves. By this point, Jammy had established himself at the forefront of dancehall production, but his style worked equally well with roots veterans like Brown himself. A rootsy sound permeated his productions, albeit cut through with digital sounds, while his heavy use of horns and mid-tempo rhythms harked back to the rocksteady age. All of this conspired to provide a perfect backdrop for Brown, and all of Slow Down just simmers. Its follow-up, The Exit, gained the lion's share of attention; however, all the elements that made that a great album were already in place here. Packed with powerful vocal performances, Brown shifts through emotional gears and lyrical themes, just as passionate on the love songs as the cultural tracks. The single "Slow Down Woman" and "It's Magic" (a nod to Motown) are particularly delightful poppy numbers, "They Fight I" and "Africa We Want to Go" are stand-outs among the rootsier cuts, while "Come on Over" and a cover of John Holt's "Let's Build Our Dreams" are a sublime blend of roots and rocksteady. The other six songs are just as strong. Jammy's style appealed to audiences across the musical spectrum, while Brown's ability to shift from roots to lovers rock electrified audiences young and old, making Slow Down one of those rare records: an album that really can be all things to all people.

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