Black Uhuru

Black Uhuru Kingston, Jamaica. One of the most popular reggae acts ever and the first one to win a grammy . They were the most successful act from Jamaica besides Bob Marley and had an enormous cross-over success duirng the early to mid 80ies , mainly beause of two facts : the fantastic rhythm section consisting of the ever present drum&bass twins Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare who were actually a part of Black Uhuru during their most successful period . Secondly :Their sound was different – more accessible to Rock fans with uncompromising lyrics and their militant appearance . Especially their live shows were enigmatic .

Black Uhuru was founded in the late seventies by the then already established singer Don Carlos and Duckie Simpson ; after a while Michael Rose , who sang in hotels on the north coast of jamaica for tourists joined the group and the trio was complete. It was Michael Rose’s rockstone gruff voice and his phrasing of syllables and consonants that made the sound of this vocal trio so distinguishly different from the multitude of other Reggae Trios . They had a local hit with the Prince Jammy produced “I Love King Selassie” . ‘Puma’ Jones , who was raised in New York heard this song and fell in love with this tune immediately . So she joined the group in time for their first international distributed album ‘Sinsemillia’ (Island Records 1980) on TAXI – Productions/Jamaica . This album was a huge success already and some of these songs are still played in bars , coffeeshops and Hippie hang-outs worldwide . The strength of songs like “World Is Africa”; “Push Push”;”Every Dreadlocks”;”Sinsemillia” and “Fire” make them timeless anthems . They toured and recorded with Michael Rose as Lead vocalist and further releasing the powerful RED album with more militant songs like ‘Youth Of Eglington’ or ‘Sponjie Reggae’ (maybe their best song) , A Live album from 1981 called “Tear It Up” , the still solid “Chill Out” and their 1983 album “anthem”, that was repackaged and re-mixed for their international market with a different cover in 1984 (for no apparent reason) . Quarrels about the status of Duckie Simpson (the Founder) and Michael Rose (the voice of Black Uhuru) lead to internal problems and Michael Rose left and Junior Reid another singer from the Waterhouse neighbarhood in Kingston replaced him . This lead to a rejuvinated sound and another highlight in the career of Black Uhuru . They even had a Top Ten Hit with “The Great Train Robbery” in the Uk and other european countries , their first song written and sung by Junior Reid . The albums ‘Brutal’ and ‘Positive’ with good and advanced dub albums to follow were both very successfull and their tours were (nearly) as successful as before . The same problem occurred again . Junior Reid was the voice and wrote the hit songs , while Duckie Simpson stayed out of focus , his songs were no hits – but he was the head of Black Uhuru . So Junior Reid left as well to pursue a sucessful solo carreer . To make matters worse ‘Puma’ Jones died of cancer in 1990 . So Duckie Simpson contacted his old buddy Don Carlos , who was still a respected and always recording and releasing Solo artist with a nice voice and talent for songwriting . Still this duo didn’t have the potential to perform the anthems , that made Black Uhuru the giants they were , so they recruted young singers , who loked good and had the ability to reproduce the songs from both Michael Rose and even Junior Reid for the bread & butter earning live tours . This was a little bit ridicilous . Still – They got paid and released albums every few years and toured regularily . In recent years Sly & Robbie reunited with them as Black Uhuru and toured the big Reggae Festivals with Don Carlos ,Duckie Simpson and numberous young lead singers and female background – vocalists. On some festivals they even performed with Michael Rose as one act (while he sang some of his penned Black Uhuru anthems and some of his solo works) and as Black Uhuru !!! Michael Rose and Duckie Simpson finally found an agreement

Website

Records:

Black Uhuru – Party Next Door, Island

Black Uhuru – Party in Session, Island

Black Uhuru – What is Life, Island

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