Blood Brothers 0294


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Review Text After the success of 1984's Two Bad Superstars Meet, it was inevitable that Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown would join forces time and again. On Blood Brothers, the pair duets on four co-written tracks, then go their own way on another four self-composed songs apiece. By rights this should still be a match made in heaven, but those halcyon days of yore are gone. With time and wear Brown's vocals have grown increasingly hoarse, and no longer do his warm, creamy tones perfectly counterpoint Isaacs' own icy cool vocals. That's the downside; the upside is that even if Brown is no longer in perfect voice, his performances are still gloriously rich in emotion and soul. This is particularly notable on "Ease Up," the pair's heartfelt plea for "Mr. Big Shot" to ease up the pressure on the sufferers, and the equally impassioned "Hard Labor," a tough look at prison life. The stellar title track is a bouncy andjubilant celebration of fraternal love, while the gorgeous "Closer Than a Friend" revels in the men's glorious harmonies. Of Brown's own solo numbers, a recut "Here I Come" is the weakest, his vocals reed-thin, which the backing Roots Radics' militant rhythm and producer Errol "Flabba" Holt's crisp production emphasize. Far superior is Brown's inspiring, soulful performance on the praise-filled "Give Thanks to the Father" and his impassioned loverman delivery on "True Love Is Hard to Find." Arguably the best of his numbers is the last, "Lover With Meaning," and here Brown's voice is thick and rich with emotion. Unfortunately, Holt does his friend no favors with his severely stripped-back arrangements and clean-as-a-whistle productions. Brown's vocals cry out for a warmer, more atmospheric setting, and the chilly dancehall rhythms force him to work all the harder. However, they beautifully showcase Isaacs' cool-as-a-cucumber delivery. The sparser the sound, the brighter the singer shines, as on his totally laid-back "Hooked on Your Love," where the backing is stripped down to tattooed beats, Holt's reverbed bass, and a sprinkling of keyboards. From the sweet "Goodbye Love," across the vivacious "The Love Letter" and on to the sufferer's-themed "The Feds," Isaacs struts his best stuff. Of course, as the title makes clear, this set wasn't meant as a clash album, but a showcase for two superb talents. Blood Brothers is a genuinely enjoyable set, but Holt and his Radics thoughtlessly put Brown at a serious disadvantage; however, his phenomenal emotional delivery overcomes all obstacles. Still, this is no way to treat a brother. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Blood Brothers - 4:07
  2. 2. Here I Come - 4:51
  3. 3. Feds - 4:50
  4. 4. Closer Than a Friend - 4:51
  5. 5. Give Thanks to the Father - 4:46
  6. 6. Hooked on Your Love - 4:56
  7. 7. Ease Up - 3:19
  8. 8. True Love Is Hard to Find - 4:54
  9. 9. Goodbye Love - 4:51
  10. 10. Hard Labor - 4:48
  11. 11. Lover With Meaning - 4:42
  12. 12. Love Letter - 4:00

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