Slacker Logo

Black Uhuru

Advertisement
Advertisement

Biography

The most successful of the second-generation reggae bands, Jamaica's Black Uhuru maintained their high quality despite numerous personnel changes throughout their many decades together. The first reggae band to win a Grammy award, for their 1983 album Anthem, Black Uhuru offered a dynamic and progressive sound during their 1970s and early-'80s heyday. Led by mainstay Derrick "Duckie" Simpson, a reunion of the group's earliest lineup enjoyed renewed critical acclaim in the early '90s with albums like Now and Strongg before fragmenting into warring factions and a lawsuit that earned Simpson possession of the band name, which he continued to use into the new millennium on 2001's Dynasty. Aside from some collaborative appearances between Simpson and '80s-era member Michael Rose, the remainder of the 2000s yielded only rumors of a long-awaited Black Uhuru album, As the World Turns, which wouldn't see the light of day until 2018. The band, whose name comes from the Swahili word meaning "freedom," was formed in 1972 in the Waterhouse district of Kingston by Simpson, Don Carlos, and Rudolph "Garth" Dennis. Initially playing under the name Black Sounds Uhuru, they eventually shortened it to its more familiar version five years later. When the group experienced difficulties securing a record contract, Spencer left to pursue a solo career and Dennis joined the Wailing Souls. Simpson, who remained the thread throughout Black Uhuru's evolution, reorganized the band with Errol "Jay" Wilson and quivery-voiced lead vocalist Michael Rose. Accompanied by the rhythm section of drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare, who would become the pioneering production duo Sly & Robbie, Black Uhuru created a sound that made them a match for any reggae ensemble. Their debut album, Love Crisis, released in 1977, included the anthemic hit "I Love King Selassie." Three years later, the album was remixed and released as Black Sounds of Freedom, the first under the Black Uhuru banner. With the addition of harmony singer Puma Jones, an African-American woman who held a Master's degree from Columbia University and was a former member of the female group Mama Africa in 1981, Black Uhuru entered their most commercially successful period. In addition to recording a critically lauded sophomore studio album, Red, and an exciting live album, Tear It Up, the group reached its peak with the release of Anthem in 1983. Remixed for release in the United States, the remade version was re-released in Europe shortly afterward. Although the album received a Grammy for Best Reggae Recording, internal problems caused the band to splinter the following year. Rose was replaced by soundalike Junior Reid. Jones and Reid remained with the band until 1989. Although Reid left when visa problems prevented him from touring, Jones, who was replaced by Janet "Olufunke" Reid, was forced to step down after being diagnosed with cancer. She died on January 28, 1990 and was buried in her home state of South Carolina. The original three members -- Simpson, Carlos, and Dennis -- reunited at the beginning of the '90s to record a successful string of albums as a trio. Beginning with 1990's Now, Black Uhuru enjoyed a renewed period of commercial and critical success rivaling their heyday a decade earlier, logging three more Grammy-nominated albums in Iron Storm (1991), Mystical Truth (1993), and Strongg (1994). By 1996, however, the band had again fractured with Simpson and dub poet Yasus Afari using the band's name in Europe and Carlos and Dennis simultaneously touring the U.S. as Black Uhuru. Following a legal battle, Simpson won ownership of the name in 1997 and relaunched the group yet again, this time with Jennifer "Nyah" Connelly and Andrew Bees. This version of the band managed a pair of albums including Unification (1998) and 2001's highly regarded Dynasty, which revisited the band's early-'80s sound and included Sly & Robbie. Things remained relatively quiet for the band in the 2000s, with Bees returning to his solo career in 2003 and Simpson joining up with '80s-era singer Michael Rose to tour as Black Uhuru feat. Michael Rose for several years in the middle of the decade. In 2012, after years of rumors regarding a new release, Simpson, Bees, and singer Kay Starr completed sessions for an album that was to be called As the World Turns. It was later discovered that the master files for the recording had been corrupted, leaving all but one track unusable. They soldiered on for a few more years, with young reggae singer Jojo Mac briefly joining the band between 2014 and 2016. With Simpson and Bees fronting the group, Black Uhuru re-corded the long-delayed album and As the World Turns finally saw release in 2018, 15 years after their previous studio album. ~ Craig Harris
Read All Read Less

Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Sinsemilla
  3.   Sponji Reggae
  4.   Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  5.   I Love King Selassie
  6.   Puff She Puff
  7.   Chill Out
  8.   Happiness
  9.   Plastic Smile featuring Sly & Robbie
  10.   Rent Man
  11.   Shine Eye Girl by Sly & Robbie
  12.   Ion Storm
  13.   Who's in the Tomb?
  14.   No Loafing (Sit and Wonder)
  15.   Journey
  16.   Utterance
  17.   General Penitentiary featuring Sly & Robbie
  18.   Trodding
  19.   Top of the Pop
  20.   Rockstone
  21.   Natural Mystic
  22.   Questions
  23.   Leaving to Zion featuring Sly & Robbie
  24.   Crisis for Love
  25.   Youth
  26.   Abortion featuring Sly & Robbie
  27.   War Crime
  28.   Stronger by Agent Sasco
  29.   Sun Is Shining
  30.   Willow Weep Dub
  31.   World Is Africa
  32.   Visions Of Dub
  33.   Tonight Is the Night to Unite
  34.   Sorry for the Man
  35.   Slaughter
  36.   Satan Army Band
  37.   Party Next Door featuring Sly & Robbie
  38.   Moya (Queen of I Jungle)
  39.   Elements
  40.   Eden Dub
  41.   Burning Dub
  42.   Unfair Game
  43.   Big Spliff
  44.   African Love
  45.   Cool Off
  46.   Brutal
  47.   Painful Dub
  48.   Psychopathic Drunkies
  49.   Imposter
  50.   Gathering Time
  51.   Stability
  52.   Live & Learn by Prezident Brown
  53.   Betrayal
  54.   As the World Turns
  55.   Scorching Ray
  56.   Look Life
  57.   Here Comes Black Uhuru
  58.   African Culture Crisis Dub
  59.   Conviction or a Fine
  60.   Convoy Hijack (Sponji Reggae)
  61.   The Monkey Is a Spy (Sinsemilla)
  62.   Youth of Eglington
  63.   Yes I
  64.   World Is Africa
  65.   Word Sound
  66.   Willow Tree
  67.   Wicked Act
  68.   What is Life
  69.   Vision
  70.   Uptown Girl
  71.   Uptown Dub
  72.   Tonight Is the Night by Sly & Robbie
  73.   Tip of the Iceberg
  74.   Time to Unite
  75.   Time Material and Space
  76.   Thinking About You
  77.   Take Heed
  78.   Strongg
  79.   Statement
  80.   Spectrum
  81.   Space Within Your Heart
  82.   Space Within Your Dub
  83.   Sound Man Style
  84.   Solidarity
  85.   Sodom
  86.   Slippin' into Darkness
  87.   Sistren
  88.   Shine Eye Gal featuring Sly & Robbie
  89.   Robbery Dub
  90.   Right Stuff
  91.   Reggae With You
  92.   Reggae Song
  93.   Reggae Rock
  94.   Real Thing
  95.   Push Push
  96.   Puffed Out
  97.   Proselyte
  98.   Prophecy
  99.   Positively Dub
  100.   Positive
  101.   Peace and Love
  102.   Payday
  103.   Ozone Layer
  104.   One Love
  105.   Natural Reggae Beat
  106.   Mystic Mix by Sly & Robbie
  107.   My Concept
  108.   Mother of Iration
  109.   Mondays
  110.   Mercy Street
  111.   Love Crisis
  112.   Living in the City
  113.   Liberation 2000
  114.   Let Us Pray
  115.   Let Us Dub
  116.   Leaving for Zion
  117.   Iron Storm
  118.   I Pray
  119.   I Create
  120.   Hey Joe
  121.   Heathen
  122.   Hard Ground
  123.   Great Train Robbery
  124.   Give My Love
  125.   Genocide
  126.   From Jump Street
  127.   Freedom Fighter
  128.   Fleety Foot
  129.   Fit You Haffe Fit
  130.   Fire and Brimstone (Journey)
  131.   Fire City
  132.   Eye of an Angel
  133.   Extra Dry Dub
  134.   Evil Spiritual Gangster
  135.   Endurance
  136.   Emotional Slaughter
  137.   Eden Out Deh
  138.   Dread in the Mountain
  139.   Dub You Haffe Dub
  140.   Dub Town
  141.   Dub It With You
  142.   Dub Creation
  143.   Dry Weather House
  144.   Dreadlock Pall Bearers
  145.   Don't You Worry
  146.   Destination Unknown (Chill Out)
  147.   Darkness
  148.   Dance Hall Vibes
  149.   Cowboy Town
  150.   Conviction or a Dub
  151.   Conscience Calling
  152.   Conceptual Dub
  153.   Colourblind Affair
  154.   City Dub
  155.   Can't Fight It
  156.   Bull in the Pen
  157.   Brutalize Me With Dub
  158.   Breakout
  159.   Brand New World
  160.   Boof N Baff N Biff
  161.   Bone Alone