Bertram Brown / Feb 17, 1950 - Sept 8, 2008

(Clive Chin, left and Bertram Brown, center. Photo by Malcolm Allen)

Jamaican producer Bertram Brown was the man behind Freedom Sounds, founded in '75 and operating into the '90s, an important reggae label from the Greenwich Farm ghetto of Kingston. The imprint put out some great music of social concerns by Prince Alla, Rod Taylor, Phillip Fraser, Horace Andy, Ranking Dread, Michael Prophet, Earl Zero and many, many others, with a special regard for neighborhood talents and singers not part of the island's mainstream. These rootsy 45s usually were with the backing of the Soul Syndicate band (often cut at Channel One studio) and accompanied by heavy dubs on the B-sides, mixed by the great King Tubby! Later on Brown formed a few other labels, working with the likes of "Chinna" Smith, Frankie Paul and Mutabaruka. Among Brown's labels he founded or co-founded were Libra (which was earlier than Freedom Sounds), High Times, CornerStone and Roots Tradition. He also owned a liquor store. He died in 2008, at just 58, from a swimming accident.

Highly recommended is the Freedom Sounds In Dub collection (anthologized for the Blood & Fire reissue label) of some of the great dub versions of Freedom Sounds material, mixed by King Tubby. In my opinion, these represent some of the absolute top ranking dubs the '70s roots scene ever knew. Check out the collection in full on YouTube:

Tagged: Bertram Brown, Blood & Fire, Celebrate Icons, dub, edit/remix, psych, reggae

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