Reggae Month 2020 – New Dennis Brown Release
February is recognised as Reggae Month in Jamaica. Fittingly, it starts on the birthday of Dennis Emmanuel Brown, the Crown Prince of Reggae.
REGGAE MONTH STARTS ON DENNIS BROWN’S BIRTHDAY
Last July marked the 20th anniversary of the legendary singer’s death. In an interview conducted by the Jamaica Observer with students at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, most of them said they had heard of him but were unaware of his expansive legacy.
Tad Dawkins, owner of Tad’s International Records, said such ignorance makes it important to re-package Brown’s music and re-introduce his songs to the social media generation. On February 1, his company will release Satisfaction Feeling, a 28-song album that revisits his storied career.
According to Dawkins, “We are in the music business to showcase what this genre of music has to offer and you can’t really get better than D. Brown, the Crown Prince. It is important that his talent stays alive for all coming generations to experience what this exceptional artiste had to offer,” said Dawkins.
Satisfaction Feeling contains a number of Brown’s classics such as Here I Come, the ‘prayer’ that opened his shows for many years; Take it Easy, Don’t Want to be A General, The Promised Land, Inseparable and Caress Me Girl.
Other Jamaican producers, like Lloyd “King Jammy” James, have also reached out to Jamaican youth by releasing King Jammy Presents: Dennis Brown Tracks of Life. Released in 2018, this album features neo-roots acts like Damian Marley, Alborosie, Protoje, Dre Island and Agent Sasco in digital duets with Brown on songs he did for James.
Brown died at the University Hospital of the West Indies from respiratory failure at age 42. He was arguably the most recorded artiste in reggae, and possibly the music’s most influential vocalist.
He first recorded for producer Derrick Harriott in 1968, scoring the first of countless hits that year with Lips of Wine. The hits never stopped for 20 years, many of them coming in the 1970s when reggae emerged as an international force.
Though he had acclaimed albums like 1977’s Wolf & Leopards, Brown never matched Bob Marley, Peter Tosh or Bunny Wailer in terms of albums. He was un-matched in the hit single department, inspiring numerous singers such as Frankie Paul, Luciano, Richie Stephens and Maxi Priest.
On his birthday, Jamaican radio stations are saturated with Dennis Brown hit songs. In February, hordes of fans head to downtown Kingston for a show in his honour, staged by his close friend, Trevor “Leggo Beast” Douglas.
Last February, Douglas was among a group of friends who gathered at National Heroes Park in Kingston to lay a wreath at Brown’s grave. He said their friendship transcended music.
“It wasn’t about any money business, but for me it was all about helping the man who carry the flag to ensure that we take the music to the world in the best possible way. So anything I could do, I just saw it as a responsibility,” Douglas stated.
In 2011, Dennis Brown was posthumously awarded the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s sixth highest honour, by the country’s government.