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Black Uhuru

From Academic Kids

Black Uhuru is a Jamaican reggae band probably best known for their hits "Shine Eye Gal", "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "Sinsemilla," "Solidarity," and "What Is Life?." They were the first group to win a Grammy in the reggae category when it was introduced in 1985.

Originally formed as Uhuru (the Swahili word for freedom) and consisting of Garth Dennis, Don Carlos, and Derrick "Duckie" Simpson, the group has undergone several lineup changes: Carlos left, replaced by Michael Rose; then Dennis left to play with the Wailing Souls, and was replaced by Errol Nelson. During this early period, the band's most famous recording is the album entitled 'Love Crisis', later re-titled 'Black Sounds Of Freedom'. In 1979 the group was joined by Sandra "Puma" Jones, a social worker from North Carolina. Under this lineup, (Rose, Simpson and Jones), with Sly & Robbie as producers (and also permanently employed on drum and bass), they released the band's most popular albums: "Showcase", "Sinsemilla", "Red", "Chill Out", "The Dub Factor" and the Grammy-winning "Anthem". During this period, Black Uhuru became the biggest reggae band in the world, regularly touring with the likes of The Police and The Rolling Stones. A recent CD release "Live 1984" (a concert at the Rockpalast in Germany which was actually recorded on October 18th, 1981) captures the band at the height of its powers.

After Rose went solo in 1985, Junior Reid joined for a few records and also left; and Puma Jones left in 1987 (and died of cancer three years later, in 1990). In 1990, Simpson reunited with Dennis and Carlos in the original line-up of the group. They recorded several albums and toured extensively. By the end of the 90's, Dennis and Carlos left the band and fought a legal battle against Simpson over the name Black Uhuru. Simpson won the lawsuit and formed yet another incarnation of Black Uhuru with Andrew Bees as lead singer. Only one album, "Dynasty", was released before Bees left the group.

In February 2004, it was announced in the Jamaican press that Simpson and Michael Rose had re-united under the name "Black Uhuru feat. Michael Rose". Together with a female backing singer named Kay Starr, they released a single, "Dollars" and performed at several concerts including "Western Consciousness 2004" April 28th in Jamaica, of which a live video was released shortly thereafter. A new album has been reported to be in progress.


The Grammy-award winning album 'Anthem' was actually released in three different versions - the Jamaican mix was released in November 1983, followed by extensively remixed U.K. and U.S. versions, with different sleeves and slightly different mixes. The latter included the track 'Solidarity' instead of 'Party In Session'. The dubmaster behind the remix was Paul 'Groucho' Smykle, already famed for his groundbreaking work on 'The Dub Factor'. 2004 saw the release of a limited edition 4-cd boxset on the Hip-O-Select label, entitled "Complete Anthem Sessions". This set included all three versions + bonus tracks and a previously unreleased dub companion to the original Jamaican mix.

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