A Short Story By Penny Reel
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The sudden death aged just 42 of Jamaican singer Dennis Brown on July 1, 1999 sent a shockwave through the world of reggae and robbed the music of its most popular ever grassroots performer.
Feted as a child star in the 1960s and billed as the Boy Wonder, Dennis Brown went on to fulfil his earlier promise with a recording career that spanned 30 years and dominated the reggae dancehalls for the next three decades. During this time, the singer released more records and scored a greater number of hits than any other artist working in the reggae field.
Deep Down With Dennis Brown - Cool Runnings And The Crown Prince Of Reggae traces the busy years of his early rise to prominence in the 1970s, when the singer developed his distinct style and also made the majority of his best and most famous recordings. Told as a short story in the author's highly personal style and set against the backdrop of the London underground reggae scene during these turbulent times, this profile of its star act provides a fascinating insider's insight into an otherwise hidden world. In this respect, here is a unique piece of written work, not only in the medium of reggae music, but as a wholly original approach to the debate of popular music and its wider cultural concerns.
In addition to the text, full colour illustrations of photographs, album sleeves, record labels, concert posters and other ephemera from the era are reproduced throughout the book, adding a striking visual accompaniment to the story as it unfolds and the half that has never been told is revealed.
The author: Penny Reel has written extensively about popular black music and specifically reggae since the early 1970s and in that time has met and interviewed most of the latters major players. During this period he has freelanced on a regular basis for publications including International Times, Oz, Time Out, Mojo, Virgin Yearbook, Sounds, Music Week, Wire, Straight No Chaser, Underground and many others. During the 1970s-80s, he was the chief correspondent on reggae for New Musical Express, at the height of the papers success as market leader in its field, and from the mid-70s until the end of the millennium wrote a regular column for the weekly tabloid Black Echoes as well as sundry articles, reviews, think pieces and other work.
The readership: _ popular music and popular culture enthusiasts
_ Afro-Caribbean interests and Third World studies
_ reggae music fans
Distributed by: Central Books, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN
Tel: 44 (0)20 8986 4854 Fax: 44 (0)20 8533 5821
What the critics said
Atmospheric, poetic, impassioned and respectful of arcana which would otherwise be lost to knowledge. Fans of Penny Reels writing on London and reggae have a double treat here. Leaves you wanting more.
Jon Savage Mojo
A visual as well as literary feast The writer makes his unorthodox approach work in impressive fashion and furthermore remains true to his own personal experience There have been a number of new reggae titles over the past twelve months, but I doubt any of them are as essential as this lavishly illustrated and beautifully presented retrospective.
John Masouri Echoes
Mr Reel has a way with words. His wonderful richly distilled Runyonesque prose marks him out as an authentic character and chronicler of the developments and paths of Jamaican music in London Very entertaining and fact rich read.
Dave Hucker Beat
A handsomely illustrated testament to the life of a singer who brought more than a little love into the hard lives of the Jamaican people and those whose roots lay in the Caribbean.
Paul Bradshaw Straight No Chaser
Reggaes much respected and longest serving writer delivers a stylish homage to the late crown prince. Hugely enjoyable.
John Williams Top (Tower Records)
A singular kind of illuminations through reggaes maze of names, faiths and fashions. Reels voice suits this kind of street level narrative chancers, semi-Rastas, one horse backers and scene stealers.
Ian Penman The Wire
A timely reminiscence. Reels aim to achieve accuracy of information, facts and figures is very successful.
King Appiah-Agyemang Darkerthanblue (online magazine)
The purpose of this book is to establish Dennis Browns unrivalled importance as a reggae artist before his contribution can be overlooked or forgotten. Presentation beautifully illustrated with many period pictures, record labels and memorabilia is excellent and we are unable to fault the reasoning. Buy with confidence.
Indispensable to not only Dennis Brown aficionados but reggae lovers in general. Penny Reels text is a revelation.
Michael de Koningh Reggaereggaereggae.com
From archive facts on releases of his myriad hits to personal and private conversations, this book informs as it entertains.
This massive book is a must for anyone with a true love of reggae music and who wants to know why Dennis Brown is one of the musics greatest stars.
Ray Hurford Small Axe
A Drake Bros Publication