Raver Reviews: Glen Brown re-issues essential listening for all reggae fans | MIDNIGHT RAVER
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Raver Reviews: Glen Brown re-issues essential listening for all reggae fans

In much the same way that the 1989 release of Boat To Progress! The Original Pantomine Vocal Collection 1970-74 first exposed me to the brilliance of Glen Brown, the 2016 reissue of this set may turn on a whole new generation of reggae fans to the Pantomine sound. The set is one of three recent re-issues featuring the early works of Brown and his multi-talented cadre of artists and musicians that includes Big Youth, Little Roy, Gregory Isaacs, Johnny Clarke, Tinga Stewart, Roman Stewart and many more.

Like many producers of the time, Brown had an extensive catalog of singles, many of which were issued on blank or mislabeled 7″ vinyl records. Sorting through all of this and making sense of it is a monumental task, however, no one is more up to the task than journalist and reggae aficionado Chris Lane, who selected which of Brown’s productions to include in these sets. Lane’s selections serve Brown’s legacy well as they are representative of the distinctive yet diverse sounds within the producer’s catalog of music. There are tunes you will love and there are tunes you will loathe, but in the end you are well pleased and satisfied that you took the ride.

Boat to Progress! opens with “Realise” by Ritchie McDonald and Glen Brown, a tune with a vocal performance so over-the-top that it almost sounds ridiculous. However, you can rest assured that the tune gains gravity with every listen and after two or three there is no question as to why this track kicks off the whole set. “Father’s Call” showcases the extraordinary vocal talent of Earl “Little Roy” Lowe, a very underrated vocalist who never really achieved the success and notoriety his talent demanded. Also included in this set is perhaps Gregory Isaac’s greatest vocal performance ever put to record, “One One Cocoa.”

The highlight of this set is not so much the vocal performances but the instrumentals over which the vocalists perform. Brown’s riddims are heavy on horns and he worked with the best horn-blowers on the island: Lennox Brown (alto sax); Tommy McCook, Dirty Harryl, Karl Bryan (tenor sax); Vin Gordon, Ron Wilson, Carl Masters (trombone); and Bobby Ellis (trumpet). The instrumentals also feature some of King Tubby’s best early mixing work.

The three compilation albums, issued by the VP Music Group on vinyl and CD, are available for purchase now.




Glen Brown, Jamaica (Photo:  Dave Hendley)

Glen Brown, Jamaica (Photo: Dave Hendley)



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