Here I Come

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Thursday, February 06, 2014

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February is designated Reggae Month and the Jamaica Observer is continuing its coverage of stories marking the occasion.

IT was the anthem that announced Dennis Brown on stage — a song that became the Crown Prince of Reggae's signature.

No 'D Brown' set seemed complete without Here I Come, a song the singer first recorded during the late 1970s.

The original, slower version was produced by Winston 'Niney' Holness and appeared on Brown's 1978 album, Wolf and Leopard.

In 1980, Brown and producer Tad Dawkins re-recorded the song with drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare.

Dawkins says he first met Brown while he (Dawkins) was living in New York City during the 1970s. The singer was in town for some shows and they met at Brad's, a reggae record store where Dawkins worked.

They first worked together on the 1980 song Unite Brother Man. But Dawkins wanted to breathe new life into Here I Come.

"It was a classic song but it was a little too slow for the times and it needed a more stepping reggae beat," Dawkins told Splash.

The new cut was an instant hit. It became even more popular in the late 1980s when Brown began using it as his show opener, followed by a salute to Twelve Tribes of Israel founder, Vernon 'Gad Man' Carrington.

Saxophonist Tony Greene joined Lloyd Parks and We The People, Brown's backing band in 1985. He says the idea to open with Here I Come came from the band's guitarist, Keith Powell.

"We used to open with Halfway Up, Halfway Down. We were in New York an' Keith sey, 'start wid da tune dey (Here I Come). A di right tune dat'," Greene recalled.

The singer agreed and the song's opening line, sang by Brown just before he took the stage, became a rallying cry at his shows.

Dawkins, who operates Tad's International Record distribution company, produced other hits by Brown including If This World Were Mine and Wild Fire (with John Holt).

He is not surprised by Here I Come's endurance.

"The original was a classic. All we did was to take it to another level," he said.

Brown died on July 1, 1999 at age 42.

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