Throwback Thursdays: Dennis Brown, Maxi Priest + More on “Letterman”

September 19, 2013

Words by DJ Autographโ€”


Long-time Throwback Thursdays contributor and selector extraordinaire DJ Autograph is back in the saddle this week, with a find from deep in the vaults of late-night TV.

Searching for Dennis Brown videos on the Internet one day, I stumbled upon an amazing find from 1992: A musical performance on Late Night with David Letterman, featuring dancehall and reggae legends Dennis Brown, Maxi Priest, Shinehead and Little Lenny performing Bob Marleyโ€™s “One Love.”ย (Late Night was Letterman’s original 12:30 show on NBC, before moving to CBS and 11:30). The four each put their own twist on this classic tune, with Shinehead and Little Lenny bringing additional verses.

Following Lettermanโ€™s introduction, all four begin singing the famous chorus in unison. Maxi Priest then takes over singing the first verse, accompanied by Little Lennyโ€™s โ€œribbitโ€ adlibs in the background. The second verse belongs to the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown, who delivers in smooth signature style again, also accompanied adlibs from Little Lenny (he may actually be the best part of this performance come to think of itโ€”we’ll get to that later).

Shinehead takes center stage after the next chorus, delivering a smooth eight-bar rap verse โ€œbigging upโ€ his co-performers and calling for less slackness and more culture. One more chorus passes before Little Lenny steals the show with his dancehall-style verse, jumping around and delivering each line with infectious energy while Maxi, Dennisย  and Shinehead prance around in the background.

Whatโ€™s great to me about this video is the genuine comradery shown amongst the four, all huge stars in their own right at the timeโ€”and also Shinehead and Little Lennyโ€™s matching, all-white outfits. It’s the sort of positive performance that Iโ€™d like to see replicated in some format by todayโ€™s dancehall and reggae stars.