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Hit Sounds from Channel One 1979-80

U-Brown

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Album Review

First things first: Hit Sounds from Channel One isn't a collection of U-Brown tracks. It's a compilation of tracks from his Hit Sounds label, cut at Channel One at the tail-end of the golden era of rockers reggae by the usual revolving cast suspects of JA-Team session players playing under the name of the Revolutionaries. But it's important to remember that even at the height of the militant message rockers era, reggae remained Jamaican pop music, too. Brown's label apparently specialized in sweet soul crooners — mid-level names like Johnny Osbourne, Al Campbell, Delroy Wilson, and a young Sugar Minott the most prominent — and U-Brown's old-school toasting isn't exactly hard-edged on the opening "Weather Balloon." His "Me Chat You Rock" has triumphal horn punctuations over a spare riddim but it's merely serviceable, nowhere near as wonderful as is title. So pleasantly grooving love songs in a pop/rockers reggae stylee designed for easy listening and skanking is the nature of the beast here. Carlton Livingston's "Don't Cuss Rasta" offers the hardest social commentary but it's more a cautionary plea for tolerance, and the criticism in Campbell's "Mr. Conman" is cut with sweet harmonies. The drums get more militant on Minott's "Steal Away Girl," and Osbourne's singing on the soul classic "Oh Girl" is too straightforward, lacking the heartbreak edge of Eddie Holman's original. "Weather Report" is an instrumental feature for hornmen Bobby Ellis and Deadly Headley but it doesn't stray far from the song form — neither does the dub version, or any of the dubs by the Revolutionaries with the possible exception of the percussion and sonic bleeps on "Now I Know Dub." It's all Jamaican pop and truthfully it can easily slip right on by, but it's hard to argue with the craftsmanship and professionalism. If you're a sucker for this sound, it's a good collection, but trailblazing or really essential it's not.

Biography

Born: 25 November 1956 in Waterhouse, Jamaica

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the most significant of the younger generation of Jamaican deejays, U-Brown, was born Huford Brown in Kingston in 1956. One of 11 children, Brown's musical education began by accompanying his father to local bars, as well as spending quite a bit of time hanging out on Bond Street near Treasure Isle studios. While only 15 Brown began his deejaying career in earnest working for the Philip Monroe-owned Sound of Music, developing his skills while recording tracks like "Wet Up Your Pants Foot"...
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Hit Sounds from Channel One 1979-80, U-Brown
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