Dennis Brown

The Complete A&M Years

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Between 1981 and 1983, Dennis Brown recorded three albums of wildly uneven quality for the American A&M label: Foul Play, Love Has Found Its Way, and Prophet Rides Again. All of them were produced by Joe Gibbs, with whom Brown had recorded some of the finest roots reggae of the 1970s. But the 1970s were over, and on these three albums (collected here in their entirety on two CDs) Gibbs and Brown sound like they're not quite sure what direction to go -- the syrupy disco of "Love Has Found Its Way"? the clumsy post-ska of "Come On Baby"? the throwaway vapidity of "Jammin' My Way to Fame"? Not surprisingly, Brown sounds most comfortable, and the musicians are most convincing, on the songs that let him do what he does best: sing songs of romantic longing and spiritual ecstasy over old-school heavyweight reggae grooves: the nyahbinghi-accented rockers anthem "I Need Your Love (Rasta Children)," the deeply dread "Blood, Sweat & Tears," the down-to-earth "Country Living," the nicely swinging "If I Had the World." Skip the misbegotten disco and funk experiments and you've got a good solid two albums' worth of top-notch material here -- and since this two-disc set sells for the price of one, that's a mighty good deal.

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