It’s election time here in the UK, which always gets me pulling out of one of my favourite Barry Brown tunes, Politician.
Barry Brown was a greatly underrated artist throughout the golden era of roots and early dancehall. He may have had to start out by running errands for the likes of Bunny Lee, but when he got his break and opportunity he recorded a number of hits such as ‘Step It Up’, ‘No Wicked Shall Enter’, ‘Lead Us Jah’, ‘Cool Pon Your Corner’, and probably his most well-known tune ‘Far East’.
He recorded for many of the leading producers of the day and eventually set up his own label, ‘Jabba Roots’, as well as being a regular on sound systems such as Stur Gav, Prince Jammy’s Hi-Fi and Black Scorpio.
Brown had a distinctly raw and real style that came through in his music and led to the nickname ‘the Jamaican Bob Dylan’. In his own words, “You have plenty of singers singing about righteousness and reality, but they don’t live to it, you know. Anything you sing about you are supposed to live. Me personally, I try to be progressive. I have to insist on progress in everything I’m doing, and set a foundation for the youth that is coming.”
With the usual bombardment of election promises, mud-slinging, claims and counter claims, Barry Brown’s lyrics and sentiment ring as true now as when the song was first released. His damning indictment of politrix delivered over the ‘Money Money’ riddim hits the spot every time. Hearing it and the King Tubby dub in all its thunderous glory on a sound still gives me the shivers.