Aside from his choice of superb original songs over which to record, Dennis' popularity was primarily due to a unique style, which belied a deceptively relaxed way with lyrics. Listen to the opening track on this compilation - a version of The Techniques' Rocksteady hit, "Queen Majesty" - it is an unbeatable combination of a classic Treasure Isle rhythm, the seamless interplay of deejay and original lyric, and enough effects and vocal trademarks to produce a truly timeless piece of music. Dennis' style had use of lyric had been developed during his time with the El Paso sound system, which he ran from 1969 to the early months of 1970. With Dennis as the main attraction and Lizzy and Samuel The First as alternate deejays, the El Paso set quickly became one of the island's most popular systems, drawing huge crowds and causing roadblocks wherever it played. Following the launch of his recording career, Dennis repeated his success in the national charts and selling records in countries as far afield as Britain and Canada. In an interview with Ray Hurford and Geoff Sullivan of the Reggae fanzine, 'Small Axe', Dennis recalled his early days:
"At the time, I was playing El Paso, we had dubs playing. We would go into the studio and get the raw rhythm and play it. But we had to be careful, because with a few juice to the head, a few spliff to he head and the rhythm so nice…Can you imagine this record, 'Moonlight Lover', you kept hearing it. The on night, you hear the introduction and you're supposed to hear the vocal next, and you hear…the BASS! It was excitement, pure excitement!!! The people went wild, then they hear the deejay start toasting to it and it make them even wilder. That is how this thing catch on so much. 'Wake The Town' [by U Roy], that record sold like hot bread. Worse when he did 'Rule The Nation' - people line up outside Duke Reid's studio, waiting for the record to come off the press. People who owned record shops in those days licked their fingers. On a weekend, they know they could sell 10,000 U Roy [records]. And how U Roy put over his lyrics was completely different from King Stitt [who] was more or less a shouter…he was riding, but U Roy gave the rhythm more jive. And I come with a sing talk…so the people could sing along."
Dennis' 'singing style' was pioneered on his early records, notably those for Keith Hudson Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, Winston 'Niney' Holness, all of whom produced the singer in 1970. Over the next couple of years, his output was prolific, recording for a succession of Kingston-based producers, which included Byron Smith, Phil Pratt, Bunny Lee, Alvin Ranglin, Prince Buster, Sonia Pottinger, Lee Perry, Prince Tony, Winston Riley, Joe Gibbs, Clive Chin. and Duke Reid. The latter, who had issued U Roy's earliest hits, repeated his success with Dennis, with sides like "Number One Station", "Rock To The Beat", "The Great Woggie", "Wake Up Jamaica", "Teach the Children" and "Musical Alphabet" all becoming hits. The producer also gathered a number of these, along with tracks by Lizzy for the best-selling LP, "Soul To Soul - DJ's Choice" (CDTRL-356), while Coxsone Dodd and Bunny Lee also put out collections of the deejay's sides, issuing "Forever Version" and "Guns Don't Argue", respectively.
Around 1972, Dennis also began producing material, releasing "Get In The Groove", featuring himself and Dennis Brown, "Ape Man" by Augustus Pablo and Delroy Wilson's "Little Village". Meanwhile, his enormous popularity was reflected in Swing magazine's music awards for 1971/2, at which he was presented with a cup for being the island's most popular deejay. In 1973, Dennis embarked on a successful six-week tour of the UK and shortly after returning to Jamaica, decided to make Britain his permanent home. Although his output dropped off considerably following his relocation to London, he still occasionally gave glimpses of his undeniable talent, with recordings for a number of UK based producers, most notably Sidney Crooks and Count Shelley. Tragically, Dennis' career came to an abrupt halt in 1979 following the death of his mother, who had been his major source of inspiration throughout his career. And while he has since resumed his deejaying career, he has so far been unable to recreate the incredible success of his earlier work.
The music on this collection dates from a time when Dennis Alcapone was a dominant force in Jamaican music, creating some of the most memorable deejay recordings of the early seventies. At the time of recording, Dennis had no idea just how enduring his music would prove to be:
" …At first, it was just playing a sound system, enjoying my music, enjoying the girls, and that was as far as it went…it was more or less, wake up in the morning, up to the camp where they sell the herb, ideas come, write them down, to the sound in the night, sometime the studio…pick up a few girls, on the beach, go to bed, wake up, get a few dollars from the producer. All I wanted to know was I was living. I had money in my pocket, like Dennis Brown says, just pocket money. It can buy a few spliff and a box of beer. Put gas in your car, go down to the beach and listen to the waves coming in."
The sound of those free and easy days, when Dennis Alcapone ruled the nation with version is preserved on this CD. As the man would say - tune in to the sound of the rocking vibration, shake it, but don't break it and scrub it like an Alabama rabbit - live it up!