U Brown (Hugh Brown)
Real Name: Huford Brown
Born: November 25th, 1956
Place of Birth: West Kingston, Jamaica
Official website: unknown
Brown began his career DJing on the Silver Bullet Sound System in the early 70s. His performance was heavily influenced by the "dee jay daddy" U-Roy, who, following his departure from King Tubby's Hi Fi, was replaced by U. Brown. His vocals bore an uncanny resemblance to his hero and no other DJ on the island was able to mimic the originator as convincingly. Brown continued exciting the crowds with his parody and by the mid-70s began a prolific recording career. He enjoyed a hit in 1976 with "Starsky And Hutch", and a series of albums followed produced by Bunny Lee. The producers Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson were enjoying a run of big hits in the mid-70s and employed the young DJ to perform "This Old Man" on the discomix version of Jacob Miller's "Keep On Knocking". The song had also been recorded in a different style by Miller for Augustus Pablo and it was this version that was preferred by the record-buying public, resulting in less exposure for the DJ. Although the single was not a big success, Virgin Records in the UK decided to build up an extensive catalogue of Jamaican music and U.
Brown was one of many reggae performers signed to the label. In 1978 he released "Black Star Liners"/"River John Mountain", and this was successfully followed by "Front Line" (graphically exhibiting a fist gripping barbed wire with blood flowing down the forearm) from Mr Brown Something, a self-production with the assistance of the Mighty Fatman. Brown chanted in the style of U-Roy over old rhythms, notably on "Natty Dread On The Mountain Top", where he used Black Uhuru's "I Love King Selassie" as a backing tune, before the group achieved notoriety. The Virgin contract enabled U. Brown to visit the UK frequently and his regular appearances on the Unity Hi Power sound system were met with fervour, which he acknowledged on "Tottenham Rock". His final set for the label appeared in 1979 and featured further cover versions of reggae standards including "Row Mr. Fisherman", "Natty Step It Inna Greenwich Farm" and "Step It In A Freedom Street". Although he recorded with Jah Thomas ("Things A Come Up A Go Bump") and Sly And Robbie ("Out Of Hand"), little was heard from U. Brown following the end of his Virgin contract. It was not until 1981 that he enjoyed a triumphant resurgence with a cover version of Dennis Brown's "If This World Were Mine", retitled "Tu-Sheng-Peng", which became a firm favourite in the dancehalls.
A compilation, Tu Sheng Peng, was swiftly released including earlier cuts, but was not considered to be the official release by the performer. It followed that producers who had worked with U. Brown were quick to dust off any master tapes and the wave of enthusiasm for his recorded work was thwarted by a glut of available material, including Jam It Tonight, which was the official album accompanying his hit.
Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 2005
Source - BBC Music Profiles