Barry Brown – The Thompson Sound 1979-1982 (Hot Milk)

The Thompson Sound refers to, Linval Thompson, who was a reggae singer of some renown before sliding over to the production side of the business in the late-’70s. He’s a good producer – not as unique as a Lee Perry or King Tubby, but he gets the job done – but an odd choice to work with Barry Brown because the two shared an almost identical high tenor voice. Perhaps Thompson saw a younger version of himself in Barry Brown, who was just 17 when their partnership began in 1979. The Thompson Sound is a collection of singles and a previously unreleased album the two laid down but held back because there was already a ton of Brown’s material flooding the market. It’s a mixed quality set, with the singles (“Please Officer” and “Ketch A Fire” – the latter of which uses the backing track from Thompson’s earlier “Everybody Needs Money”) both fiery numbers, but the later album tracks suffer from weaker performances and a shift towards the oncoming dancehall sound of the ’80s. The album also makes the classic reggae mistake of placing dub tracks immediately following their corresponding vocal track. I can’t speak for others but I don’t like hearing the same rhythm track twice in a row, and usually end up skipping the dubs. There’s no shortage of better reggae albums out there, but if your collection already runs pretty deep, The Thompson Sound is worth a listen.