Remembering the ‘Prince’ Robes and All
Updated: Feb 16
In 1972, my summer vacation was in Montego Bay with my father, who was working there at the time. In his apartment, he had a portable record changer with scores of 45s and LPs. During that summer, I was introduced to an album called No Man Is An Island by a young singing sensation named Dennis Brown. The album blew me away, and I have been a fan ever since.
The quintessential reggae singer and performer Dennis Emmanuel Brown has left an astounding legacy. No other artist has produced so many unforgettable performances, and none has more number one hits than 'D Brown.' In addition, only a select few can match his consistency and volume of work.
The venue is the National Arena. The Show – Reggae Superjam is winding down, and scores of artists had performed, some good, some alright. 'Ladies and gentlemen, it's startime; let's welcome the Crown Prince of Reggae from the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Dennis Emmanuel Brown.'
Then came the sweet refrain of the immortal 'Here I Come.' The band, Lloyd Parkes and We the People with Dean Fraser, Nambo Robinson and Chico Chin, starts to roll, the crowd erupts into glorious exhilaration as D Brown appears.
He delivers the song with characteristic charm and power, invigorating a tired crowd who realizes that something special is about to happen.
I'm at a loss for superlatives to describe the performance that ensued. D Brown was in top form with hit after hit; he had the audience at the Arena eating out of his hand in a command performance. Dennis left the stage after a hits blitz, which very few artists in the world could deliver. An encore was a matter of academic interest.
Winston Niney Holness, one of 'Deb's' early producers (Cassandra and Westbound Train), has always boasted that Dennis has the record for the most number one hit singles. This is indeed a fact, and I have always said that Dennis is one of the few acts who could do a four-hour show without repeating a song and for the most part, it would be a sing-along affair. The figure 60 is being banded about as the number of albums Dennis recorded.
But, in my humble opinion, 60 is a conservative figure, and it will be years before it is known how many albums were recorded by this prolific singer. In previous columns where I have looked at great songwriters of Jamaican music, Dennis has always made a list, which includes Marley, Cliff, Andy, Toots and Smith.
Here are some of my favourite albums and songs from Dennis Emmanuel Brown:
'No Man Is An Island' (Studio One) 'Inseparable' (WKS) 'Love Has Found Its Way' (A&M) 'Foul Play' (A&M) 'Words of Wisdom' (Joe Gibbs) 'Deliverance' (Joe Gibbs)
'The Prophet Rides Again' (A&M).
Singles include: 'Save A Little Bit for Me,' 'Caress Me Girl,' 'Cassandra,' 'No More Will I Roam,' 'Revolution,' 'Lips of Wine,' 'Poison,' 'Going To Ball,' 'Lovelight', 'Spellbound,' 'Africa,' 'Love Has Found Its Way,' 'Equal Rights,' The Promise Land,' 'Foundation' and 'I Don't Want To Leave. '
These are but a few of my favourite songs from Dennis Brown, who, at his best, was the epitome of class, humility and style. Dennis was a man of many faults and, at some stage, was notorious for no-shows, but no one could charm and appease an irate promoter like Dennis Brown. The industry has its fair share of Mafioso types, and a few guns have been 'oiled to deal with a bwoy case' for not turning up.
However, when the 'Prince' arrived, it was like the proverbial prodigal son. No one could hold a grudge against Dennis Brown for long. No other artist touched the lives of so many women; many radio jocks met their wives and girlfriends while playing Dennis Brown.
If you ask the average woman who their favourite singer is, the response is invariably Dennis Brown.
Not only was he a serious 'lovers' man but a revolutionary of no mean order. His message has resonated worldwide, and he will be remembered for his contribution to black liberation, Rastafari and the struggles of the dispossessed.
We have been asking when will we see another Bob Marley. Alas, we are looking in vain; why should we? When we have Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff, John Holt, The Diamonds, Burning Spear and Marcia Griffiths? D Brown, as you are still in transition, when you see Bob, Delroy Wilson, and Jacob Miller before the jam starts, tell them that we love them and that they will never be forgotten.
Taken from Rantin From Inside the Dancehall Order Here