Staying in the cemetery for today's track... or at least on our way there. Today's tune is called "Mr. Brown's Coffin" by Dennis Alcapone (born Dennis Smith, August 6 1947, Clarendon, JA) and comes from the double CD set called Black Magic Reggae on the Castle Pulse label. When I found out about this collection last November I couldn't believe my luck, 40 spooky tunes in one place! To me it validated what I'd been doing in October because themes of the horrific and supernatural reoccur often enough in Jamaican music that it obviously warranted its own compilation! But anyway...
I recounted the story of the crow Mr. Brown two years ago when I presented the Wailers "Mr. Brown." Legend has it that this crow, that somehow picked up the moniker Mr. Brown, was observed riding around Kingston on top of a coffin as it was being taken to the cemetery. Now following with Jamaican superstition it was widely accepted that the event wasn't just coincidental it was actually the duppy (or ghost) of the deceased who had taken the form of the bird. Now a couple days passed until the same crow, dressed in a shirt and tie no less, was seen in a local courtroom. This seemingly unbelievable event convinced the general populace that the evil powers of obeah had been released and the fact that the Daily Gleaner, the local newspaper, had even run an article about it, made the final confirmation and scared the superstitious segment of the population even more. People were afraid to leave their "yard" (or homes) at night thinking they might fall victim to the demonic powers that were running rampant.
Dennis Alcapone started his musical career in 1969 DJing for a soundsystem called the El Paso Hi-Fi. He was the initially inspired to start recording when he witnessed the rising success of U Roy but Alcapone was so good that some of his earliest records began challenging the supremacy of the "Godfather" who he sought to emulate. He started out with producer and late reggae legend Keith Hudson before moving on to record with Duke Reid, Bunny Lee, Coxsone Dodd, Lee Perry, Sir JJ, Winston Riley, Joe Gibbs, Randy's and Prince Buster... to name a few.
But enough history for today... let's get to the music.