Jamming with D Brown

Observer senior writer

Friday, August 31, 2018

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THE much-anticipated tribute album, King Jammy Presents: Dennis Brown Tracks of Life, is scheduled for release on September 14 by VP Records. On it, several of contemporary dancehall/reggae's top artistes collaborate with the reggae legend on some of his best known songs.

According to a release from VP, the set comprises tracks producer Lloyd “King Jammys” James recorded with Brown in 1984-85 for the album, Slow Down. James approached acts like Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Agent Sasco, Romain Virgo, and Protoje to write lyrics for the updated songs.

Slow Down was released in 1985 by Greensleeves Records, the independent company that dominated the reggae scene in Britain during the 1980s. It included hit songs It's Magic, Joy In The Morning and the title track.

VP Records are owners of Greensleeves Records.

At the time Slow Down was released, James had the hottest studio in dancehall. His label put out the sensational Sleng Teng rhythm that year, and had a number of top artistes recording for him, including Wayne Smith, Tenor Saw and Admiral Bailey.

Tracks of Life includes Can't Keep by Marley, a fresh take on Brown's Can't Keep A Good Man Down. James said it was the last song for the project.

“He (Marley) was on tour for so long that I thought he wouldn't bother to do it. So when the album was finished, the vinyl was pressed, Jr Gong turn up at the studio, and he said I can't release this album unless he goes on it because Dennis Brown is his favourite artiste, no matter what it gonna cost,” James said on the VP release.

Marley has previously sampled Brown's work. He and rapper Nas called on the singer's Promised Land for their song Land of Promise, from the Distant Relatives album. His song, Here We Go, samples Brown's Have No Fear.

Like his father Bob Marley, Junior Gong has long admired Dennis Brown, a prolific and gifted singer who died at age 42 in July 1999.

In a 2010 interview with the American radio station, NPR Music, he said: “He (Brown) was one of those persons who made it cool to smile in reggae music. When I listen to his music, I can hear that he really loved singing. It almost sounds like he smiles while he's singing.”

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