The late reggae icon Dennis Brown is one of Jamaica’s finest talents and was described as the Crown Prince of Reggae, but unfortunately he never reached the heights of international stardom like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh did.
Now Dennis Brown’s youngest daughter Marla Brown – a trained dancer – carries his legacy forward. Her debut recording as solo singer, the uplifting Better Days, on Royal Order Music’s Smart riddim, was dropped earlier this year.
Her debut EP was recently put out. On the cover sleeve Marla Brown floats on a sea of vinyl, including albums from her father, Bunny Wailer and Tiger. Her EP is however far from vintage. Deliverance is contemporary hard-hitting reality reggae with guest appearances from her peers Runkus and Kabaka Pyramid.
A variety of producers have been involved, but it sounds surprisingly cohesive with Marla Brown’s light and honey-coated singing about morality, her father, the climate and a brighter future.
Marla Brown has taken the moniker The Crown Princess of Reggae. That comes with great expectations for the future and Deliverance is certainly promising.
On Luciano’s third album in 2014 he has once again joined forces with UK dub legend and mixing maestro Mad Professor. Their Deliverance effort from last year was a strong set and its follow-up Luciano at Ariwa is yet another solid slice of rootsy reggae and smooth lovers rock, recorded with live instrumentation, including horns by no other than veteran saxophone player Dean Fraser.
And just as Deliverance this set comes in a showcase format, i.e. each of the six vocal cuts – seven if you get the digital copy which includes a remix with U Roy – are followed by their dub counterparts, where Mad Professor and his sons Joe and Kamal turn up the bass and treats the mixing board as an instruments of its own.
Luciano has always been heavily inspired by the late and great Dennis Brown, and that influence is just as prominent on this set as it was on Deliverance, especially on a version of Dennis Brown’s Have No Fear. Luciano also covers John McLean & Dego Ranks’ slick Special Kind of Love and For the Love of Money. On the latter Luciano also showcases his deejay skills.
Luciano is an extremely productive singer and it’s not unusual for him to drop two or three albums each year, but they rarely have the same high quality as the two albums now released by Mad Professor.
It’s no secret that Jamaican vocalist Luciano is heavily inspired by the late and great Dennis Brown. And on Luciano’s new album Deliverance he sounds almost like a reincarnation of the Crown Prince of Reggae. The similarities are especially clear on the two Dennis Brown covers – Deliverance aka Deliverance Will Come and Three Meals a Day. Both excellent, just as the remaining 13 tracks on this Mad Professor produced album.
Deliverance is a showcase set where Luciano mixes lovers and culture material, just as Dennis Brown did with great success. The vocal cuts are followed by its dub counterpart, and the mixing is sublime. Not much effects or sonic wizardry. Just the bare riddims with vocal snippets and instrumental parts dropping in and out.
This is a highly consistent album with way more than two handfuls of highlights, but standout tracks include a stellar and clever nyabinghi-driven version of the mighty Stalag riddim and the roaring Show a Sign with its driving percussion.
Luciano has over the past 20 years or so been one of the most prolific Jamaican artists. He usually drops at least one album a year, and he has now been on something of a creative high for four consecutive years and he shows no sign of slowing down.