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Artist Profile
Dennis Brown
Feb 1, 1957 ~ Jul 1, 1999
The ‘Crown Prince Of Reggae’, Dennis Emanuel Brown, was Jamaican music’s most consistently popular performer. Many artists achieve fame and adulation after their death but Dennis Brown earned an unparalleled amount of love and devotion during his life time.
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Real name:
Dennis Emanuel Brown
Place of birth:
Born into a creative and musical family on 1st February 1957 in Kingston, Jamaica Dennis started singing at the age of five. His father, Arthur Brown, was a scriptwriter and actor who appeared in many stage and television plays and his brother, Basil Brown, was a popular comedian known as 'Man Man' after his role in the Jamaican radio series 'Life In A Hopeful Village'. Dennis made his first public appearance at the age of ten at a political conference in Kingston's National Arena and went on to perform at numerous stage shows as the featured vocalist with Byron Lee's Dragonaires. He "used to forward himself at Kingston's Carib Theatre" and he also sang with The Falcons and The Soul Syndicate before making his first record for Derrick Harriott in 1969.

"I was the first man to record Dennis Brown. I used to know his bigger brother... a comedian. Dennis used to sing 'Solomon' on Byron Lee's shows. He was a little youth talking about he's a big man and the vibe just went around and we became friends. His first recording... he was no more than ten or twelve years old... was 'Obsession' but we changed the title to 'Lips Of Wine'. Derrick Harriott

Dennis went on to work for a number of Kingston's top record producers. He recorded two albums for Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd(CS Dodd), 'No Man Is An Island' and 'If I Follow My Heart', and an amazing number of classic singles including 'Cheater' for Clive Chin at Randys, 'It's Too Late' and 'Song My Mother Used To Sing' for Herman Chin Loy, 'What About The Half' and 'Let Love In' for Phil Pratt, 'If I Had The World' and 'One Day Soon' for Prince Buster and 'Set Your Heart Free' for the Tafari Syndicate.

"I did quite a few recordings at this time for other producers. With Matador I did 'Things In Life' and 'Baby Don't Do It' and I did one for GG(Alvin Ranglin) called 'Don't You Cry' then I went and did two numbers for Prince Buster."Dennis Brown

Bunny Lee(Bunny Striker Lee) recalled how, in these early stages of his career, Dennis was taught his craft by two of Jamaica's greatest ever vocalists.

"He was smart! We did a whole heap of work me and D. Brown. He was a great human being too...Dennis Brown. It was Slim Smith taught Dennis Brown to play guitar... when they were living in two big yards. Slim lived on Orange Street on the corner behind Coxsone's Record Shop and Dennis lived in the big yard on North Street. Dennis Brown used to call Delroy Wilson The Teacher and that's why Dennis Brown was so versatile because Slim Smith and Delroy Wilson taught him. Delroy Wilson and Slim Smith... great artists. Two of the greatest artists... it's them did bring and teach Dennis Brown." Bunny Striker Lee

Joe Gibbs(Joel Gibson) had first employed Winston 'Niney The Observer' Holness(Winston 'Niney' Holness) as in-house producer in 1969 and Niney was at the controls for Joe in 1972 when Dennis sang 'Money In My Pocket' for the first time. An incredible run of hit records for Niney's own Observer label followed where Niney's dynamic productions with The Soul Syndicate band placed the youthful Dennis Brown in a thrilling new context. Already described as a "youthful veteran" his voice "amazingly assured and his performances achingly felt" Dennis continued to "mix both cultural themes and the most romantic of lover's laments" but his own compositions became increasingly concerned with 'reality' themes and universal love. He made his first Rastafarian inspired records with Niney including the unapologetic 'Africa We Want To Go' and 'Why Seek More' but it was the more traditionally inclined 'Westbound Train' that proved to be the biggest Jamaican hit of summer 1973. Dennis was voted Top Male Vocalist in Swing magazine towards the end of that year.

Dennis toured the UK for the first time in the summer of 1974 as part of a Jamaican Showcase package that included Al Brown, Sharon Forrester, The Maytals and Cynthia Richards. Towards the middle of the decade Dennis began to produce himself beginning with one of his best, most heartfelt records, 'Satisfaction Feeling', where he was backed by The Heptones. It was released on the D'Augular's Sounds label but "nothing too tough happened with that really... that was just a start for me" but it did indicate the direction he would take when he established his own DEB (Dennis Emanuel Brown) label in the winter of 1976/77.

He returned to work with The Mighty Two, Joe Gibbs(Joel Gibson) and Errol Thompson, on the classical 'Visions Of Dennis Brown' album which was released in 1977. Its combination of conscious themes and love songs echoed the dread mood of the times and it proved to be Dennis' most successful outing so far. Although it was originally available in England as an expensive 'pre-release' import, 'Visions' went straight into the UK reggae charts and remained there. It was voted reggae album of the year by both Black Echoes and Melody Maker.

"Through his appointed field: music, he has realised its potential of communication/education and the role it should assume in this age as an expression for self-definition and self-determination... His visions are revealed through Haile music (roots rhythms and revolutionary lyrics) and unveils the Ire Soul of Dennis Brown."
Patrick Griffiths

In 1978 The Mighty Two released an update of 'Money In My Pocket' on a Joe Gibbs twelve inch 'discomix' where Dennis' vocal was seamlessly segued into a deejay counteraction from George Nooks as Prince Mohammed. 'Money In My Pocket' was Dennis' biggest crossover hit reaching Number 14 on the UK National Charts the following spring when it was released on London's Lightning Records.

Two years later Dennis signed with A&M Records. His first long playing release for the label, 'Foul Play' produced by Clive Hunt and Joe Gibbs, mixed love and reality themes and included the brooding 'The World Is Troubled'. His next A&M release, 'Love Has Found Its Way' co-produced by Willie Lindo, Joe Gibbs and Dennis Brown, was released in 1982. This soul influenced album was a big hit and the smooth, sophisticated title track reached the UK National Charts and the USA Soul Charts. The entire album was a triumph and was later described in 'Reggae The Rough Guide' as "the nearest a reggae album can get to the international pop audience without losing something very vital in the process". Dennis' last album to be released through A&M, 'The Prophet Rides Again', was produced by Joe Gibbs, Errol Thompson and Dennis Brown. Released in 1983 it featured a blend of commercial funk based rhythms and roots tracks and included the beautiful 'Historical Places'.

As each new genre or rhythmical style came along Dennis Brown adapted his songs to fit... and it worked every time. At the same time that he was wooing international audiences with his A&M releases he could also be found riding high on the crest of the dancehall wave at home in Kingston. The Joe Gibbs produced 'A Little Bit More' and 'Your Love's Got A Hold On Me' were two faultless examples of Dennis' total mastery of the new style. His records for Sly & Robbie's Taxi label, 'Hold On To What You Got', 'Sitting And Watching', 'Have You Ever Been In Love Before' and, in particular, 'Revolution', were all massive hits. These early examples of the digital approach packed a serious rhythmic and lyrical punch and presaged Dennis' work with King Jammy(Lloyd James). The album, known as both 'The Exit' and 'History', was imbued in the musical traditions that Jammy and Dennis had helped to establish during the previous decade. Dennis Brown's records from this period demonstrated the creative heights that could be achieved when the latest technology was combined with talent and experience.

He was a man who loved to sing and Dennis Brown sang and he sang and he sang ... it is an inarguable fact that he is responsible for more reggae classics than any other single artist in the history of Jamaican music. He was adored and emulated like no other singer and, for over twenty five years, his standing in the world of reggae was second to none but he was rarely appreciated or acknowledged by the outside world. Anyone who wants to understand reggae music only has to understand Dennis Brown... everyone in the reggae business wanted to emulate the success of Bob Marley but every reggae singer wanted to sound like Dennis Brown and his popularity with the reggae audience should serve as an explanation to what the music is all about and what it means to that audience. He loved his people and they loved him back.

"It is safe to say that no other Jamaican artist has enjoyed such a rich and musically satisfying career."

Dennis Brown died 1st July 1999 of respiratory problems and was given a state funeral in Kingston, Jamaica on 10th July. He was buried in Heroes Circle where he rests in peace. His spirit lives on forever in his music.
Related artist(s):
Delroy Wilson
Slim Smith
Soul Syndicate
Augustus Pablo
Jun 21, 1953 ~ May 18, 1999
“…The music of Augustus Pablo, created for its moment, and somehow, eternally right for each moment since.” Ian McCann
>>Featured Page
Real name:
Horace Swaby
Place of birth:
St. Andrew
Born Kingston 21st June 1953 Horace Swaby did not come from a musical background but is one of the most influential and important figures in musical history and, as Augustus Pablo, he evolved a style whose reverberations would sound far outside the confines of reggae music. His father was an accountant and one of his clients was Mrs Sonia Pottinger, proprietor of the Gay Feet musical empire, and Pablo recalled her giving him a dub plate of Ken Boothe's 'Lady With The Starlight'. "I had it in my house a year before it came out..." He would practise on the family piano in his comfortable, middle class home and also built his own guitar using fishing line for strings. "I just loved the sound of music – all kind of music. Just music was inside me from early days." He first recorded for Coxsone Dodd(CS Dodd) at Studio One in the early seventies.

"Coxsone never really put them out. Three organ instrumentals... one was 'Moving Away'. Me have an idea 'pon it and just play it... and two original rhythms. Sylvan Morris and Larry Marshall supervised the sessions. This was just before Herman... 'Real Rock', 'Swing Easy' me did love them tune!" Augustus Pablo

Herman Chin Roy had been using a name he had found in a Mexican magazine to credit instrumental releases on his Aquarius label believing that the enigmatic 'Augustus Pablo' pseudonym gave the records a mysterious feel. In 1971 the young Horace Swaby was in the Aquarius Record Shop with a melodica that had been lent to him by the daughter of a family friend. Herman asked him if he could play the instrument and was so moved by the sounds emanating from Horace's melodica that he immediately booked studio time at Randy's(Randys) Studio 17 for the following week. This historic first session produced 'Iggy Iggy', a version to The Heptones' 'Why Did You Leave', and on this, and subsequent releases such as 'The Red Sea' and 'East Of The River Nile', the pair established a sound that would dominate reggae for years to come. Horace Swaby actually became Augustus Pablo and the music that he created would for ever after convey the depth of mystery that Herman had intended the 'Augustus Pablo' name to portray.

"Pablo using the name was never a problem." Herman Chin Roy

The following year Pablo moved on to work with Clive Chin an old school friend from Kingston College. Clive had gone straight into the family business at Randy's(Randys) after leaving KC and 'Java', a Pablo melodica instrumental with harmonies from The Chosen Few, was a huge hit and was voted 'Top Instrumental Record' for 1972. Further versions of the 'Java' rhythm ensued and Clive and Pablo then followed these with one of the most accomplished long playing sets ever made: 'This Is Augustus Pablo'.

"Over the past years reggae has generated a trend in and 'round Jamaica and other parts of the world. Today the type of sound which the younger generation digs is the rebel rock music which is here now."
'This Is Augustus Pablo'

It was King Tubby who realised that the melodica was at its most haunting when played in minor keys and it was at Tubby's prompting that Pablo's 'Far East' signature sound was born.

"Tubby's a my brother! Him buy xylophone for me... him did show me certain things and him come like the man who pass the music... just say in a them type of key there..." Augustus Pablo

In 1972 Pablo began to produce records for his Hot Stuff and Rockers labels but his first self production, 'Kid Ralph', came out on Panther a Dynamic Sounds' subsidiary label. The first release on Pablo's legendary Rockers label was 'Skanking Easy' a cut to a tune originally featured in 'Fiddler On The Roof' that The Soul Vendors had adapted and adopted a few years previously at Studio One as 'Swing Easy'. He was to return to Brentford Road rhythms for many of his greatest releases, not out of any lack of inspiration, but as part of his vision of expanding the myriad possibilities inherent in these tunes.

"The first records nah sell much. We'd only press 100/100, 200/200 or 300/300 at a time." Augustus Pablo

But reworking or doing over these musical templates became more and more popular as the decade progressed and the direction that Pablo had taken in 1972/73 was later carried to its inevitable conclusion by Bunny Striker Lee, the Hookim brothers(Joseph Hookim) at Channel One and Joe Gibbs(Joel Gibson) and Errol T(Errol Thompson) as The Mighty Two. As well as recording for his own labels Pablo also cut countless classic sides for many other producers including two different versions of Lee 'Scratch' Perry(Lee Perry)'s classic 'Fever' rhythm entitled 'Hot And Cold', 'Fat Baby' for Keith Hudson and 'Bass And Drums Version' and 'Bells Of Death' for Derrick Harriott.

Pablo's name, and the concept of dub, was first introduced to an international audience in 1975 when Jacob Miller sung 'Baby I Love You So' (over Pablo's 'Cassava Piece' rhythm from 1973) which Tubby then took apart and rebuilt as 'King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown' on the B side. The Tubby's version was promoted to the A side when Island Records released the record in London and the music press belatedly began to sit up and take notice of this starting new phenomenon. Two years later a selection of Tubby's B sides for Pablo were collected together for the epochal 'King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown' album. This set has no equal: if you want to know what dub is all about, what it means and, perhaps most importantly of all, what it meant nearly thirty five years ago then there is no better place to start than 'King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown'. Originally released on Brad Osborne's New York based Clocktower label this faultless collection has never been out of press since 1977... and has never been bettered.

"First LP me put out. Me want Tubbys to mix a dub LP in stereo but I see dub different from how everybody else see it. Me nuh invent dub! (That was) a whole class of us together drawing out the rhythm and just echo it. So them call it dub.......but some people give different meanings for dub. Me is a man who try to do something new. Me nuh follow nothing!" Augustus Pablo

Over the next two decades, as each successive wave of musical styles and fashions ebbed and flowed, Pablo continued to make music completely unmoved by whatever happened to be this week's flavour of the month. Fads came and fads went but Pablo's transcendental releases on his Rockers and Message labels were always timeless and full of a power beyond the here and now that, at times, seemed to stretch into infinity.

"I try to create in everything I do. In every move I make. Not only music alone. In everything I do. I'm not in the studio every day. I don't burn out a lot of energy that way. I turn it into myself and the works...

I just lock off playing for other people. Comes a time when you draw in 'pon producers. Anything they can do we can do better! Most of the producers well... it's really musicians who make the music. They build up a different vibe. Me name musician and them only name producer! So me just start producing myself."
Augustus Pablo

But Augustus Pablo refused to take the credit that rightly belonged to him: "People call it successful. I just doing the works, you know." He died 18th May 1999 of Myasthenia Gravis, a rare nerve disorder, at a tragically early age and, while his health had visibly deteriorated over the last ten years of his life, his music continued to be an evangelical confession of faith. A deeply religious man many of his records cite Haile Selassie as co-producer but Pablo's deep knowledge and understanding of Jamaican musical history formed another cornerstone of his work. The spirituality of his music was underpinned at all times by deep, dark rhythms and its intangibility was both unprecedented and unparalleled in popular music. His Rockers International Record Shop on Orange Street continues to this day to supply the Rockers in downtown Kingston and Pablo's music will live everywhere for evermore.
Related artist(s):
King Tubby
Jacob Miller
Hugh Mundell
Yami Bolo
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Description of item
[All Items] → [7"] → [Reggae] → [Early Reggae 1969-1973] → [Dennis Brown]
No Stock
vinyl 7" 7"
Dennis Brown / Augustus Pablo, Crystalites
Silhouettes / Bass & Drum Version
Move & Groove/Dub Store Records JPN
¥1180 (US$9.50)
Rating: 12345
Genre: Reggae
Sub Genre: Early Reggae 1969-1973
Produced by: Derrick Harriott
Approx. year: 1972
Date added: Dec 27, 2012
Date re-stocked: Feb 25, 2013
Country: Japan
Catalog number: DSR-DH7-032
Music type: Vocal B: Melodica Inst
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'Silhouettes' is one of Dennis Brown's earliest recordings and a good old Reggae hit. The flip side features Augustus Pablo's melodica cut to the A-side. This peaceful piece proves that the early sound of King Tubby is the greatest of all.
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