Tag Archives: Cover albums

Loving tribute to Dennis Brown

werememberdennisbrown_01Jamaican legendary vocalist Dennis Brown is my all-time favourite singer, so when I heard about a new tribute compilation dedicated to his works I was somewhat sceptic. Why mess with perfection so to say. But after listening to the 30 tracks I realized I couldn’t be more wrong. We Remember Dennis Brown is a superb and loving tribute to an icon that has been dubbed both Boy Wonder and The Crown Prince of Reggae.

Dennis Brown’s music and influence as a singer is unmeasurable. He voiced his first recording at the tender age of eleven and before turning 16 he had worked with some of Jamaica’s top singers and producers. In the 70s he was on a creative high and put out hit after hit, equally at ease with both romance and social commentary. For about three decades Dennis Brown was the most popular singer in Jamaica – yes, more popular than Bob Marley – and created a truckload of reggae classics.

During his much too short lifetime – he passed in 1999 only 42 years old – he recorded extensively and has a capacious catalogue. And from this treasure chest seasoned producer Clive Hunt has dug to create this emotional and passionate tribute, which collects timeless classics and lesser-known gems.

The two discs are largely divided into culture and romance and showcase a wide and impressive range of voices from both Jamaica and abroad. And some of the songs were premiered already in February – Dennis Brown’s birthday month – including Caress Me from Romain Virgo, Milk & Honey by roots reggae rockers Raging Fyah and Bloody City from soulful songstress Jah9.

The songs on We Remember Dennis Brown lie close to the originals and Clive Hunt hasn’t aimed at create a new sound for these masterpieces, something that appeals to huge Dennis Brown fans like myself. And some of the tracks actually sound like the originals, but with a more powerful soundscape, and no one can deny Dennis Brown’s influence on a singer like Bushman, who successfully covers the militant Don’t Want To Be No General.

There are many bright moments and highlights and best of the bunch is Yahsha’s version of the devout The Existence of Jah, which originally appeared on Dennis Brown’s major label debut Foul Play, a set co-produced by Clive Hunt back in 1981. I’ve actually had this song on repeat several times.

Hopefully this compilation will reach both previous fans and find a large number of new ones. Dennis Brown’s greatness and relevance can’t be overstated and even though 30 tracks make a hefty compilation there’s much more to discover.

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Bushman is the Bush Doctor

Tribute albums are not particularly common in reggae music. And I am not that fond the idea either. It is often hard to make justice to the original versions. But sometimes you get surprised. The new album from BushmanBushman Sings the Bush Doctor: A Tribute to Peter Tosh – is one such.

The late Peter Tosh was part of the original Wailers in the 60’s and early 70’s. But he and Bunny Wailer left and started their own solo careers. Peter Tosh had done some recording on his own prior to his demise from the group, for example Them A Fe Get A Beatin’ and Maga Dog for producer Joe Gibbs. He had also proven himself to be a great lyricist and songwriter in the Wailers.

I have always thought that Peter Tosh has been put in shadow compared to Bob Marley – of course – and Bunny Wailer. His first two albums Legalize It and Equal Rights are downright excellent.

Therefore I think that Bushman has chosen a great artist to pay tribute to. And he does it very well. Bushman’s deep, sometimes nicely nonchalant, tenor voice suits Tosh’s militant compositions very well. Bushman is not as rugged as Tosh, but it is compensated by sincerity and soulfulness.

Bushman Sings the Bush Doctor: A Tribute to Peter Tosh is mainly produced by Donovan Germain, always a safe card for great production. And this album is no exception. The production is warm and modern, but still close to the original versions. Maybe because some foundation musicians are involved.

Bushman has chosen 15 compositions for this album, mainly taken from Tosh’s’ albums in the 70’s. Some are expected, like classics Legalize It and Downpresser Man, while other choices are more surprising.

The bubbling disco groove in Buk-In-Hamm Palace is one of Tosh’s more accessible moments and Bushman’s version just toughens the bass line a bit. On the soul drenched and upbeat Don’t Look Back, originally performed by The Temptations, Bushman has invited Tarrus Riley, instead of Mick Jagger as Tosh did. Luckily enough the 80’s sounding sax solo is still with us.

Even though the track list is exquisite I miss tunes such as Burial and I am the Toughest, another of Tosh’s signature tunes.

This is surely a great album and an impressive tribute to one of the many greats of reggae music.

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