Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Black Uhuru: Ultimate Collection 2000

For over 50 years Black Uhuru has remained one of the most popular recognized prolific reggae band from Jamaica. The living legends have earned several achievements in the music industry including winning the first ever Grammy Award for reggae music. They’re long success along with having the highest reggae record sales after Bob Marley & the most songs sampled by other artist over the years has allowed them to become Ambassadors of reggae.

The roots of Black Uhuru formed in Kingston’s “Waterhouse” District in the late 60’s. It is the home of founder & leader Derrick “Duckie” Simpson along with all the rest of the singers from the
group. The original Uhuru’s Swahili for “freedom” were Duckie, Don Carlos & Garth Dennis. The first song was a Curtis Mayfield cover of “Folk Song”. They made only a couple more songs before Don left to pursue a solo career & Garth joined Wailing Souls. The two were replaced by Michael Rose & Errol Nelson both from Waterhouse. They recorded the debut album “Love Crises” in 1977 for Prince Jammy later re-released as “Black Sounds of Freedom”. Errol later left the group to join the Jays & was replaced by female singer Puma Jones.

By the late 1970s Black Uhuru referred to three vocalists who constituted the “golden age” of Black Uhuru’s popularity: Michael Rose, Derrick “Duckie” Simpson, and Sandra “Puma” Jones.
This new line-up is when the band began to collaborate with Sly & Robbie & developed the “classic Uhuru” sound of the 80’s. A unique style full of heavy drum &  bass, sharp keys, loud guitar riffs & long instrumentals filled with whirly background effects & the signature “wow oh-oh oh’s” echo. It was during this period they signed with Island Records. They began touring internationally & started receiving worldwide attention. They recorded some of their most popular albums like “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” “Sensimelia” & “Chill Out”. The album “Red” was voted #23 for Rolling Stone Magazine list of 100 greatest albums of the 80’s. And history was made when they won reggae’s first grammy award in 1984 for the album “Anthem”. Shortly after the grammy Michael left the group to go solo.

Another Waterhouse resident named Junior Reid became the new lead singer. Two albums were
released “Brutal” nominated for grammy & “Positive” with Ras Records. These albums included popular hits like “Dreadlocks on the Mountain” “Fit You Haffi Fit” & one of the groups first music videos “Great Train Robbery”. Sadly due to ill health Puma passed away in 1990. Around this time Jr. Reid was having visa issues unable to tour.

During the mid 90’s the original members reunited. Four albums were released “Now”,  “Iron”, Storm”, “Mystical Truth” &“Strongg” all nominated for grammy. They made an award-winning music video for “Tip of the Iceberg” that featured rap star Ice-T & another video for “One Love” featuring Louie Rankin. They performed live on television for VH1 a cover version of Jimmy Hendrix “Hey Joe”. In 1994 they won the Diamonds Awards for Excellence. Unfortunately, the group began to dispute over band legal rights & went to court in the late 90’s. Duckie won the rights to the name.

As the new millennium approached Duckie found Andrew Bee’s once again from Waterhouse. Bee’s first tour with the band was in 1996 in Brazil. They released two albums “Unification” in 1998 & “Dynasty” in 2001. In 2002 they reunited with Sly & Robbie for an international world tour & released a live album/dvd “Dubbin it Live”. The group resurfaced in 2010 & has been touring extensively throughout Europe, South America & the United States. In 2012 they performed in a Broadway musical in Los Angeles called “Loving the Silent Tears”. In 2013 Duckie was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the IRWMA. In 2017 they released a new single & music video “Jah Guide” a Peter Tosh tribute that featured Bugle.

In 2018 the longly awaited new album "As The World Turns" was finally releaesd. The first album in over 15 years was nominated for "Best Reggae Album" for the 61st Grammy Awards. The album was produced by Duckie Simpson & Horace Campbell & mixed by Jermiaine Forde. The album has
15 tracks with Duckie on lead & features collaborations with Agent Sasco & Prezident Brown. Two music videos for "Chalice" & "War Crime" were released from the new album. In 2018 Black Uhuru played the One Love Festival in New Zealand in January, headlined the Austin Reggae Festival in April, played at Rotterdam in Amsterdam &  No Logo Festival in France over the summer & toured the East Coast in September. In 2019 Black Uhuru toured the West Coast, Hawaii & the East Coast where they appeared on NPR's "Tiny Desk" concert series. The video was released on Black Friday November 29th. A new single was just released "I See You" from the new "Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica Reloaded" album by Contractor Music.

Black Uhuru is currently working on a new album & planning a world tour for 2020...

[Black Uhuru can claim big things in reggae history. Winners of the first Grammy Award for best reggae album (for Anthem), Black Uhuru took Bob Marley's punching rhythms and hardened them further, thanks to the duo of bassist Robbie Shakespeare and drummer Sly Dunbar. Singer Michael
Rose also had a raggy voice, which was coarse and impassioned like Marley's--and had a great alter ego in vocalist Sandra "Puma" Jones. This generous 77-minute set of classic Uhuru includes the major points: "I Love King Selassie," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "Utterance," "Youth of Eglington." The melodic flow and harmony-vocal crosscut of the lattermost tune stood far and away above so much reggae of the era with an adroit mix of old-school rootsiness and creative expression. Alas, the lineup that cut the tune would break apart gradually, first with the 1984 departure of Rose (replaced by Junior Reed), and then in 1986 with the departure of Jones--who succumbed to cancer in 1990. The vast majority of these 17 tracks, though, come from the Rose/Island Records era, and for that, the collection indeed amounts to "ultimate" as its title claims. Andrew Bartlett]

[ AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson

This generous compilation isn't really a career retrospective, since it focuses almost exclusively on Black Uhuru's years on the Island label. However, it does take several tracks from the group's Greensleeves and RAS catalog and a Joe Gibbs single version of "Rent Man." What it all boils down to is an overview of the trio when it consisted of Michael Rose, Derrick Simpson, and Puma Jones,
which is generally considered to be the classic Black Uhuru lineup (Rose is replaced by Junior Reid on two tracks). Fans will have most of this material already, of course, but for the uninitiated this is a good an overview as one could imagine -- all of the most important songs are here, from the inevitable "I Love King Selassie" to "Youth of Eglington" (paired with its dub version from the Dub Factor collection). "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is mixed in showcase style, but with a dubwise appendix that differs significantly from the one on Heartbeat's Showcase album. "What Is Life?" and "Try It" are both presented in their original Jamaican mixes. No track is less than worthwhile, and some of them are among the finest reggae ever recorded.]

Black Uhuru ‎– Ultimate Collection
Label: Hip-O Records ‎– 314 542 348-2
Series: Ultimate Collection
Format: CD, Compilation
Country: US
Released: 2000
Genre: Reggae
Style: Roots Reggae


01. Sinsemilla   5:10    
02. I Love King Selassie   4:35        
03. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner   4:54    
04. Sponji Reggae   4:56    
05. Love Crisis   3:47        
06. Rent Man   3:18        
07. Endurance   4:00        
08. Whole World Is Africa   5:15        
09. Utterance [Explicit]   3:43        
10. What Is Life? (Original Jamaican Mix)   5:44    
11. Youth Of Eglington [Explicit]   5:02        
12. Youth   3:48        
13. Try It (Original Jamaican Mix)   5:26    
14. Dread In The Mountain   4:05        
15. Brutal   4:07        
16. Darkness   3:59    
17. Chill Out   5:58

MP3 @ 320 Size: 180 MB
FLAC  Size: 505 MB