Spanky Brown Come Out Of Darkness Review

Spanky Brown – Come Out Of Darkness – Review

Sid Buck Records featuring Spanky Brown: Come Out Of Darkness 7” Vinyl Review by Mr Topple for

The legendary yet under-recognised talents of Reggae producer and engineer the late Sid Bucknor have recently been reinvigorated, with the launch of a label dedicated to re-releasing his groundbreaking work. Pauzeradio is proud to have in its shop several of these releases – with a classic from the early seventies being one.

Come Out Of Darkness, now released via Sid Buck Records, was originally published in 1972 via Bucknor’s JamCam Records with vocals by Spanky Brown – on a double A-side with Winston Wright’s Love Of The Common People. Bucknor originally produced the track – as he did for so many artists and studios over the years – from Bob Marley and the Wailers and Toots and the Maytals, to Trojan Records and Channel 1.

Now, Come Out Of Darkness has been digitised, reworked and remastered, and re-released, by his son Byron. He said of his late father, and the new label, that the:

“lack of recognition is not just for Sid Bucknor but many other Jamaican artists of the time. Hence, “Come out of darkness” by Spanky Brown, released on Sid’s JamCan label, drives our mission to bring integrity in the reggae genre”.

The track is classic Roots in style – but with some pleasing nods to the Funky Soul of the time, too. Drums perform an interesting arrangement with the kick dominating via a drop-beat rhythm which skips the three (not the usual one drop). The snare hits the two and four, while hi-hats fill the spaces in between. The occasional rolls on the cymbals and the snare move the track along nicely.

There’s a pleasing use of a bubble rhythm between instruments – one line is taken by an electric organ, which intermittently performs it, then an electric guitar does the same, and keys follow suit at points. This use of multiple instruments to do a Reggae musical standard gives the track light and shade in terms of depth, kHz, and dynamics. The guitar also does a secondary skank, too – making the Jamaican vibes strong across Come Out Of Darkness. A metal chinking sound (not quite a bell but almost) and its pointed use is a pleasing touch, too.

The Funky Soul elements are strong, though – not least the rapid major to minor chord progressions and key changes on the bridges. But note the wonderful glissandos on the electric organ, the almost walking bass line (but that intentionally misses the first beat of each bar to make up for the drums’ lack of a one drop), and keys coming in at times with some funky riffs and runs. Guitars also do some very groovy improv’d lines as well – and all this coupled with some keen attention to detail in terms of instrumental dynamic peaking and troughing versus Brown’s vocal compound the Funky Soul overtones.

Brown’s vocal itself has aged incredibly well. Here, less is more as he shows restraint across this measured performance, which serves to accentuate the inspirational lyrics as well as the musical backdrop. His timbre is delicate, without too much vocal trickery, and he hones in on certain phrases and syllables well to create ebbing and flowing. Lyrically, Come Out Of Darkness is a simple but effective call for a) Jamaican people to literally break Babylon’s shackles, and b) spiritually (and metaphorically) do the same. The message of emancipation is as pertinent now as it was in the 1970s.

However, what’s then noticeable about this re-released version is Byron and the labels’ adjustments to the original.

Admittedly, some of the vinyl imperfections have been tidied – not least across the tone of some of the instrumentation and the focus of dB (the new version being bass-heavy) – as well as additional engineering (not least the varying dynamics of the instruments, which were not present on the original). However, Bryon and Co have also re-arranged the vocal – removing the backing parts that were on the original and cutting elements of Brown’s vocal too. They’ve also re-arranged some of the instrumentation – for example, notably losing the analogue telephone ring, and towards the end putting in the electric organ where it wasn’t before. It’s a smart re-imagining and reworking of the original and serves Bucknor’s original very well.

Side B has an excellent Dub version – which really lets you hear the work that’s gone into the remastering of the 1972 version. The ear is drawn to the complex layering of instruments, with their individual flourishes and quirks – and it enhances the original track brilliantly. Of course, Sid also did an original Dub of the track – released on his 1976 album Dub Sensation 1.

Overall, Come Out Of Darkness is a strong release, as it was the first time around. Simple yet effective, it shows the skill of Bucknor, at the peak of his powers – and that of Byron and his team, in continuing, while also moving forward, his father’s legacy. Sterling works.

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Spanky Brown – Come out Of Darkness Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio PR Services (4th August 2023).

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