Dennis Brown

Super Hits

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Child star Dennis Brown unleashed a stream of hits in the '60s, all under the aegis of Clement "Coxsone" Dodd. But, as the new decade dawned, the then-teen-aged star left Studio One, recording for a myriad of producers before linking up for several years with Niney Holmes. Prince Buster, Lloyd Daley, the Chins, Phil Pratt, and Joe Gibbs. Brown recorded with them all, and then some more, including singer turned producer Derrick Harriott. It's Brown's work with Harriott that is showcased here, on Super Hits. The title is a bit misleading, suggesting this set is a compilation, but in fact, it was Brown's third album, although as was usual with Jamaican full-lengths from that period, a clutch of then-recent hits were all included. And more to the point, it was this set that introduced the singer to Britain upon its release byTrojan in 1972. Harriott was riding high in reggae circles during this period, his instrumentals in particular were tearing through the clubs on both sides of the Atlantic, his DJ versions were equally popular, while as a singer, he beautifully showcased his vocalists. Harriott's studio band the Crystalites included members of top session bands Gladdy's All Stars and Lyn Taitt & the Jets, which insured the high quality of every backing.

Brown may have split from Studio One, but he had yet to make a true break with his balladeering past, as this set makes clear. But even though still in his teens, his vocal maturity is evident here, bringing new emotional nuances even to such tired old numbers as Glen Campbell's "Wichita Linesman" and the Rays much-covered "Silhouettes." Beyond the slew of these surprising covers are a few of Brown's own compositions, including "Concentration," "Changing Times," and the sensational "How He Can't Spell," all evidencing his strong songwriting talent which will come into full-bloom in just a few years. Much, much better was to come, but even as a youngster, Brown was a phenomenon, a prodigious talent, who was already a superstar at home. It was this set that helped pave the way for his ensuing international acclaim.

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