Barry Brown ‘Right now’ (Greensleeves) 4/5

Singer Barry Brown is one of the most respected singers on the circuit and his career has straddled that of the roots and dancehall era, and has even taken in some lovers tunes on occasion. This re-issue from 1984 captures the singer in truly fine form and has the added bonus of no less than eight versions plus a Tristan Palma 45, ‘No shot nuh fire’. Greensleeves are to be commended for offering such good value for money and the CD as a whole weighs in at just under seventy-five minutes. Barry Brown recorded for a variety of producers including Sugar Minott on his Black Roots label and a tasty 10″ for Coxsone at Studio One a year before this album was recorded. However, he will always be best known for his work at Channel One and ‘Right now’ features those trademark piano licks for which the studio is rightly famous and Brown here is accompanied by two crack sessions groups, the Roots Radics and the We are the People band. Overall, this is a nicely balanced set that includes some of then in-vogue slower dancehall-flavoured compositions such as ‘Sister Magling’ and the pared down and deeply melodic ‘Lovely girl’. What is a pleasant surprise, though, is that Barry Brown has not forsaken his roots fans for he delivers a trio of winners on ‘Guide and protect us’, the lovely guitar and organ breakdown of ‘Jukes and watch’, and, perhaps, finest of all, the social message-laden piece ‘Mister Minister’. Elsewhere there are definite echoes of Sugar Minott on ‘I give my love’ which is a strong lovers tune. Production duties are expertly handled by Jah Screw who was obviously in top form since he would during the same period produce Barrington Levy’s seminal ‘Under mi sensi’. While there are on major hits on this album that replicates the early success of ‘Step it up youthman’ or ‘Cool pon’ your corner’, the release is a fine example of the era and Brown’s vocals have a timeless quality that will appeal to all.

Tim Stenhouse