Vision of the Reggae King

Dennis Brown

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Vision of the Reggae King Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

Dennis Brown's Vision of a Reggae King was overlooked by many Brown fans amidst the flood of albums the veteran singer released during the mid-'90s, put off by a title that suggests its just another one of the cheapo cash-in compilations that have been flooding the market. But don't be fooled, this was a new album worthy of respect. Producers Anthony Cameron and Glen Ricks, whose own luminescent keyboards lick across a clutch of numbers, oversaw a superb cultural set, all backed by richly melodic, ofttimes brash lit dancehall riddims, laid down by the likes of the Fire House Crew, Steely & Clevie, Cat Coore, and Sly Dunbar among others. The backings are superb, and include an inspired version of ABBA's hit "Money, Money, Money," but as good as the riddims are, they're virtually overshadowed by Brown's own powerful lyrics and performances. There's nothing lightweight about this set, as the singer tackles such crucial issues with "Nuclear Weapon," "African Scientist," the enveloping world tribulation ("Vision"), and, on a religious note, preparation for the coming apocalypse ("Redemption").

The fervently faithful Brown is one "Tuff Nut" of a Rasta, and "the heathens better step back" when he's around, but for all his hard shell on that number, he's more than willing to reach out to the baldheads, as he does on "Link Up" and "Young People," the latter a cheery and infectious rally round pushing the youth to fulfill their potential and carry on Jah's work. Elsewhere, Patrick Zed joins Brown on a heartfelt tribute to Africa with "The Motherland," while "Wha Kinda Ting Dat" delves into the seldom discussed overthrow of Haile Selassie. There's not a weak number on this set; it's a cultural masterpiece for the dancehall generation.

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