Barry Brown

Barry Brown

Barry Brown was one of many singers to find success in the 1970s under record producer Bunny Lee. After forming a short-lived group called The Aliens he went solo. Though his first releases had little impact, his vocal style soon found popularity, and he had his first hit single in with Step It Up Youthman, which led to an album of the same name. One of the most successful artists of the early dancehall era, he worked with some of Jamaica’s top producers, including Linval Thompson, Niney The Observer, Sugar Minott, and Coxsone Dodd, as well as releasing self-produced material. After releasing more than 10 albums between 1979 and 1984, Brown’s releases became more sporadic, although his work continued to feature prominently on sound systems. He died in May 2004 in Kingston.

Barry Brown

Barry Brown

Barry Brown was one of many singers to find success in the 1970s under record producer Bunny Lee. After forming a short-lived group called The Aliens he went solo. Though his first releases had little impact, his vocal style soon found popularity, and he had his first hit single in with Step It Up Youthman, which led to an album of the same name. One of the most successful artists of the early dancehall era, he worked with some of Jamaica’s top producers, including Linval Thompson, Niney The Observer, Sugar Minott, and Coxsone Dodd, as well as releasing self-produced material. After releasing more than 10 albums between 1979 and 1984, Brown’s releases became more sporadic, although his work continued to feature prominently on sound systems. He died in May 2004 in Kingston.

Beth Lesser

During the 1980s, my husband and I traveled frequently to Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, NY from our home in Toronto, Canada to follow the changing reggae scene. In that period reggae was changing fast, moving from the heavy roots sound of suffering and redemption to the lighter, faster, digitized sound of modern dancehall.

My husband and I saw it happen. We saw Junjo’s Volcano empire rise meteorically and them crash as his young artists emigrated or met untimely deaths. We witnessed Jah Love’s Brigadier Jerry take over the dancehall scene without ever having recorded a 45 – powered by the new popularity of dance hall cassettes.

We were in Waterhouse when King Jammy unleashed his Sleng Teng rhythm to an analog world and, one by one, producers dropped their previously recorded rhythms and started building again from scratch using programmable keyboards and drum machines. We were in Jammy’s yard while he cut the dubplates for the Clash of the Century, the event that brought dancehall culture to the larger Jamaican audience.

Over those years, I collected an archive of material that I would like to make available to the public – to present and future reggae scholars and fans.

All images © 1982-1988 Beth Lesser

Download

All photos on this page are available for download. Please fill out the small form below and click submit.

We’ll provide you with a WeTransfer link for a safe and reliable download as soon as possible.

Please check the box!

License

12 + 11 =