Dennis Brown – At Joe Gibbs

by Feb 1, 2022Artist, Reviews

Dennis Brown - At Joe Gibbs
Dennis Brown

Release Info

Dennis Brown – At Joe Gibbs

Label:  17 North Parade/VP Records | Format: 4CD Box Set | Street date: January 14, 2011 | Website label


CD One: Visions Of Dennis Brown

1. Deliverance Will Come
2. Oh Mother
3. Love Me Always
4. Concrete Castle King
5. Malcolm X
6. Repatriation
7. Jah Can Do It
8. Milk And Honey
9. Stay At Home
10. Say What You Say

CD Two: Words Of Wisdom

1. So Jah Say
2. Don’t Feel No Way
3. Words Of Wisdom
4. Should I
5. A True
6. Ain’t That Loving You
7. Cassandra
8. Love Jah
9. Black Liberation
10. Rasta Children
11. Drifter
12. Money In My Pocket

CD Three: Love’s Gotta Hold On Me

1. Souls Keep Burning
2. Let Love In
3. Your Love’s Gotta Hold On me
4. Right Fight
5. Hooligan
6. I Can’t Stand It
7. A Little Bit More
8. Three Meals A Day
9. Man Next Door
10. Rolling Down
11. Created By The Father
12. Open Up
13. I’m Coming Home Tonight
14. Come On Little Girl
15. Running Up and Down
16. Love Has Found It’s Way
17. Your Man
18. Why Baby Why
19. Historical Places

CD Four: Reflections

1. Money In My Pocket
2. When You Are Down
3. Let Me Live
4. Pretend
5. Don’t Expect Me To Be Your Friend
6. Play Girl
7. Smile Like An Angel
8. Poor Side Of Town
9. We Will Be free
10. Summertime
11. My Kind
12. Golden Streets
13. Girl I’ve Got A Date
14. Equal Rights
15. Let Me Love You
16. Vineyard
17. Stop The Fussing And Fighting
18. Get To Love In Time
19. Tell Me You Love Me

Today, 1st February 1957, is the earthday of the still sorely missed Crownprince of Reggae, the great Dennis Emanuel Brown. To commemorate this Jamaican reggae icon we republish the review of a box set featuring four albums with recordings done for producer Joe Gibbs.

Dennis Brown was a child star in Jamaica after recording the Van Dykes song “No Man Is An Island” for Studio One in 1970. Besides recording albums for Coxsone Dodd he worked with numerous producers who all acknowledged his incredible talent.

Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs has been a major force in reggae since the mid-sixties, in his early years (with the help of Lee Perry) producing for the likes of Errol Dunkley and The Pioneers. At the end of the sixties, he employed Winston Holness as a producer, who is better known as Niney The Observer. Then engineer Errol Thompson joined his team, after immediate success they became known as The Mighty Two. In the seventies, they produced reggae landmarks from artists such as Jacob Miller and Culture (there’s also a 4CD box released by 17 North Parade, “Culture At Joe Gibbs”), along with countless DJ, dub, and instrumental versions. The first time Dennis Brown worked with Gibbs was in 1972 and he continued to do so until Gibbs left the music business in the mid-eighties. Many of the works from this successful combination is collected in this 4cd box.

The Visions Of Dennis Brown

The album “The Visions Of Dennis Brown” was originally released in 1977. It starts with the roots tune “Deliverance Will Come” and the love song “Oh Mother” which has a great intro. “Love Me Always” is a Heptones cover, who voiced it for Studio One. Two more covers “Concrete Castle King” and “Malcolm X” follow. Real sufferer’s anthems, the former recorded by Dean Fraser and the latter a classic from Earl 16 about the assassination of Malcolm X. “Repatriation” and “Jah Can Do It” deal with cultural topics that fully capture the mentality in Jamaica at that time. The prediction that in 1977 the end of time was near had a real grip on Jamaican roots people. Another strong effort with a heavy bass line is “Milk And Honey”, originally recorded by the In Crowd and produced by Clive Hunt. The disc ends with “Stay At Home”, a song about a careless girl (aka “Ghetto Girl”) and a sweet cover of the Eric Monty Morris 1968’s “Say What You Say”. From beginning to end his vocals match perfectly with the typical down-tempo beat, credited to Sly Dunbar, Lloyd Parks on bass and a heap of other top musicians. Only few songs of this album were actually released as a single, as a result the album sold really well at that time. Since it has been re-released several times on both LP and CD.

Words Of Wisdom

In the meanwhile Dennis Brown had established his own DEB label, releasing self-produced songs and productions for other artists. Quickly after that in 1979 Joe Gibbs released the Dennis Brown album called “Words of Wisdom” on the Laser label, a wonderful combination of love and conscious songs. After hearing the first two tracks “So Jah Say” and “Don’t Feel No Way” it’s clear they are more up-tempo than those on the first disc. Both the title track “Words Of Wisdom” and “Should I” have wicked riddims and are enjoyable songs. “A True” was previously recorded as a duet with Dhaima, included here is a nice solo effort. A wonderful version of “Ain’t That Loving You” follows, originally a Treasure Isle classic recorded by Alton Ellis in 1966. Especially on this track, you can hear what an incredible vocal talent he was. In the early ’70s, Dennis Brown had major success with producer Niney the Observer (then named George Boswell), with killer songs like “Westbound Train”, “No More Will I Roam”, “Wolves And Leopards” and “Cassandra”, which he recorded for the first time in 1974. For this set, he updated “Cassandra” in an equally strong fashion. “Love Jah” and “Black Liberation” are roots songs with a slower riddim. “Rasta Children” also deals with roots themes with a faster riddim and a nice horn section. The timeless Dennis Walks classic “Drifter” is giving a worthy interpretation. The “Money In My Pocket” 1979 version that is included here, is the song that would give the Crown Prince of Reggae his only chart success outside of the reggae world.

Love’s Gotta Hold On Me

The third disc is entitled “Love’s Gotta Hold On Me”. The first six tracks are actually the 1984 LP with the same title (“Love’s Gotta Hold On Me”). A strictly dancehall set backed by the We People Band, which showed that Dennis Brown had swiftly adapted to the music style that ruled in Jamaica after the death of Bob Marley in 1981. “Souls Keep Burning” and “Let Love In” are decent opening tracks, pleading to stop fighting. The title track “Your Love’s Gotta Hold On Me” is a superb song that uses the ‘Heavenless’ riddim. The righteous “Right Fight” has a nice lazy vibe. “Hooligan” is an often covered John Holt track about the violence in Jamaica, given a very enjoyable lick here. “I Can’t Stand It” is about losing a girlfriend, voiced on the Joe Gibbs version of the ‘Answer’ riddim. The next thirteen tracks Dennis Brown recorded between 1978-1983 for different albums. On the love song “A Little Bit More” there’s enough space for the musicians to expose their talents since the focus is more on the riddim than on the vocals. 1979’s “Three Meals A Day” is a decent tune ending with a short instrumental part. The excellent track “Man Next Door” is actually another John Holt classic, who named it “Quiet Place”. The vocals on “Rolling Down” are beautiful, Dennis Brown’s voice with nice backing vocals are pure magic. “Created By The Father” is a Studio One classic updated for Joe Gibbs. Another nice effort in this flawless selection is “Open Up”. The 1981 song “I’m Coming Home Tonight” is an uplifting song. “Come On Little Girl” is a cover of the 1966 hit by the Melodians, pure pleasure to hear. The melody was later in rap circles (ab)used by Notorious B.I.G. amongst others, who replaced the chorus with gangster rap lyrics. What a track “Running Up And Down” is, a very strange one, yet so stunning I can’t stop listening to it, one for the ages! The pace slows down a bit with “Love Has Found His Way”, “Your Man” and “Why Baby Why”, all soulful love songs. “Historical Places” is taken from the 1983 “The Prophet Rides Again” album and sounds strongly influenced by “Sitting And Watching” that Dennis Brown recorded for Sly & Robbie in 1981.


The last CD is called “Reflections”. With tracks 3-12 taken from the 1974 LP “Best Of Dennis Brown” (“Westbound Train” is not present), tracks 13-18 from 1982 released “Best Of Dennis Brown Pt 2” LP (excluding “Ghetto Girl” and “Say What You Say”) and 3 more singles it is the least coherent set of this box. The “Money In My Pocket” that opens the album is the 1972 version, you can hear the time gap between this one and the 1979 song. “When You Are Down” and “Let Me Live” are prototype early reggae songs. “Pretend” has a nice horn section. The sweet “Don’t Expect Me To Be Your Friend” deals with troubles in love and so does “Play Girl”. “Smile Like An Angel” is about the adoration of a beautiful girl. The soul singer Al Wilson’s song “Poor Side Of Town” is one of the best songs on this compilation. The riddim for the gracious songs “We Will Be Free” and “Summertime” slows down a bit. “My Kind” and “Golden Streets” are further displays of his enormous talent and explain why he is one of Jamaica’s all-time favourite singers. Part two begins with two Jamaican anthems he covered in the late ’70s. Alton Ellis’ “Girl I’ve Got A Date” is sung in fine style, as is the Heptones’ “Equal Rights”. In the second part of the seventies producers like Joe Gibbs, but also main rivals from Channel One successfully recut Treasure Isle and Studio One songs and versioned several of their wicked riddims to great success. This prompted Coxsone Dodd to start recording again, in a different more spacy style. Resulting in great recordings from the likes of Willi Williams, Freddie McGregor, and Johnny Osbourne. The 1980s “Let Me Love You” has a real nice vibe, likewise the epic “Vineyard”. “Stop The Fussing And Fighting” on the ‘Real Rock’ riddim is one of his best-known songs, listening to it you’ll know why. Another strong cover is “Get To Love In Time”. Sadly “Tell Me Love You Me” closes this enjoyable 60-track release, a disco song that shouldn’t have been included in this reggae set.

This box gives a really good overview of Dennis Brown’s work for the Mighty Two between 1972 and 1984. Full of quality songs, exploring different styles of reggae music and wonderful singing, by someone who is loved and missed by us all. He went on to conquer the world by storm in the digital era, but before that he already proved he was (one of) the best.

If you don’t own most recordings already, get a copy of this compilation available at a nice price.


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