Dennis Brown's second coming

Observer senior writer

Monday, February 05, 2018

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LATE in his career, Dennis Brown announced each live performance with Here I Come, which became his signature song. Originally released in 1977 on the singer's Wolves And Leopards album, most fans are familiar with the 1984 cut produced by Tad Dawkins.

The original, done to a loping One Drop beat, was produced by Winston “Niney” Holness. The Dawkins version was more uptempo and more appealing to disc jockeys and sound system selectors.

“I was definitely was a big fan of the original, what we brought was a more soulful Dennis Brown — and wi lick the rhythm a little faster,” Dawkins told the Jamaica Observer. The hot drum-and-bass team of Sly and Robbie gave Here I Come the extra pep it needed.

Dawkins was not surprised that his edition revived interest in a potential classic.

“Not at all, as Dennis put his heart and soul into that song,” he said.

Wolves And Leopards is rated among Brown's best albums, but Dawkins' Here I Come is considered superior to Holness' production. Interestingly, in a 1997 interview with the Observer, Brown said Holness was the best producer he worked with. It was Holness who directed him on songs like Westbound Train, Cassandra, and No More Shall I Roam.

Dawkins said he first met Brown in the early 1980s, when the artiste was signed to A&M Records. They developed a strong bond which resulted in some of Brown's best songs of the period, including the ballad Wild Fire (with John Holt) and the rocking If This World Were Mine.

Since his death in 1999 at age 42, Dawkins' company, Tad's International Records, has released a clutch of compilation albums featuring his biggest hit songs. The latest, Dennis Brown: The Inseparable Reggae Family, was released last May.

Like his heroes John Holt, Alton Ellis and Delroy Wilson, Brown recorded countless songs for a number of producers in a 32-year career. Some of those productions, done in the last decade of his life, are way below the standard of his heyday in the 1970s and 1980s.

Dawkins does not believe Brown's willingness to work with multiple producers hurt his career.

“He was an excellent writer, great singer, and he loved to do songs for different producers to get a different feel,” he said.

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