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Bertram Brown

 
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Charlie Chalk
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:35 pm    Post subject: Bertram Brown Reply with quote

Obituary - The Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2008/dec/05/obituary-bertram-brown-roots-reggae

Bertram Brown

Key producer of Jamaican roots reggae - David Katz

Friday 5 December 2008

The Jamaican record producer Bertram Brown, who has died aged 58 while swimming off Jamaica's north coast, was the founder of the Freedom Sounds record label, one of the island's most noteworthy roots reggae concerns of the late 1970s and early 80s. Through it and related labels, Brown helped to revitalise Greenwich Farm, the West Kingston ghetto area, a home to many outstanding singers and musicians.

The last of 10 children of a cooper and his wife, who sometimes sold produce at street markets, Brown was born at the family home at 14 East Avenue, next door to the New Style Lawn, a gigantic dancehall that regularly featured leading sound systems such as Sir Coxsone's Downbeat, Duke Reid the Trojan and Sir George the Atomic.

By the time Brown reached his teens, Greenwich Farm was a musical hotspot, as the leading producer Bunny Lee was based there, making use of an upcoming band called the Soul Syndicate, and the hit-makers Ken Boothe and Cornell Campbell were residents also. Brown started working with his father and, after studying accountancy at the College of Arts, Science and Technology, he worked briefly as an accountant for rum producers, but music was always his motivating force. So, as soon as he had enough cash to run a recording session, he took the neighbourhood singers Milton Henry and Keith Blake into Randy's recording studio to cut Blake's Judgement Time, released on the Libra label, and Henry's Cornbread and Butter, neither of which were hits.

Brown formed Freedom Sounds in 1975 and over the next five years made a series of excellent recordings with local unknowns, typically at Channel One studio. Brown was financially unable to flood the market with material, as had some of the better-established producers. Instead, he concentrated on message music crafted by neighbourhood singers who were often rejected by the reggae mainstream. Working solidly with the guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith, bassist Robbie Shakespeare and the Soul Syndicate, with King Tubby typically employed for dub B-sides, Brown teased excellent material from friends and neighbours, especially Blake, now known as Prince Alla, who voiced the exceptional Stone, Lot's Wife and Bucket Bottom, all of which sold well in the UK and Jamaica. Other gems included Philip Fraser's Come Ethiopians, Sylvan White's World of Confusion, Rod Taylor's Ethiopian King, and Earl Zero's debut album, Only Jah Can Ease the Pressure, issued in the UK as In the Right Way.

In the early 80s, Brown helped some of his peers to set up labels, notably co-launching the High Times imprint, which he ran with Chinna Smith for several years, the home of early material by Frankie Paul and the dub poet Mutabaruka. He also helped to set up the Roots Tradition label that his friend Don Mais ran during the early 80s, and the Corner Stone label established by another friend, Michael Chin. But when High Times ran into difficulty and most of the other labels ceased trading, Brown reverted to relaunching Freedom Sounds, issuing sporadic material by the singer Michael Prophet, a gravel-voiced DJ called Pompidou, and material co-produced by local artists such as Al Campbell.

Although less active during the 90s, and spending increasing periods in New York, Brown retained the Freedom Sounds headquarters as the last remaining focal point for roots music in Greenwich Farm, operating a record distribution service from the premises, which also served as a regular gathering point for local artists, particularly if Brown was cooking fish for communal meals.

He is survived by Claudette, his wife of 33 years, eight children and grandchildren. He will be remembered by all who knew him as a determined and conscientious individual who provided a badly needed outlet for Greenwich Farm's musical talent.

Bertram Brown, record producer, born February 17 1950; died September 8 2008

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Bosssounds
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have to say I have barely anything on Freedom Sounds Embarrassed My favourite is Prince Allah's 'Bucket Bottom' without a doubt.
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Zapatoo_the_Tiger
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My collection only boasts 4 Bertram Brown productions...yet I was well-aware of the name when I saw the topic title.
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Dr. Sploom
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ta, Andy!

I'm with Joe.....only a few tunes, but I know about the chap.....Some tidy releases, on Freedom Sounds.
Wink
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Charlie Chalk
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peace & Rhythm:

https://www.peaceandrhythm.com/blogs/news/bertram-brown-feb-17-1950-sept-8-2008

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

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.

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Last edited by Charlie Chalk on Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Charlie Chalk
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bertram Brown in the centre:


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Dr. Sploom
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for those, Andy. Freedom Sounds, is a label I need to dig deeper into, as made clear, by these snippets you've been sharing. Cool
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Zapatoo_the_Tiger
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charlie Chalk wrote:
Bertram Brown in the centre:

Clive Chin on the left, so who's the cove on the right?
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Bosssounds
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone know where the record shop is? I think I can see The Trojan Story box set up on the top shelf.

EDIT - I didn't see the line at the bottom. I'm guessing it's VP or Randy's.
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Zapatoo_the_Tiger
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm hard-pressed to pick out anything beyond "Upsetter" on the shelf Very Happy
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Dr. Sploom
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zapatoo_the_Tiger wrote:
I'm hard-pressed to pick out anything beyond "Upsetter" on the shelf Very Happy
Mr. Green
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DOWNTOWN
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy, many thanks for the very interesting Bertram Brown article.
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