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Live 84

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Album Review

The title can only be misleading, for if this were recorded in 1984, why did Black Uhuru not include a sole song from Anthem in their set? No "What Is Life," no "Bull in the Pen," nor even "Somebody's Watching You." Surely this album must have been recorded earlier, much earlier, for there's nothing from 1982's Chill Out either. So "Push Push" back in time, to the previous year, when the band was first tearing up international stages, and the heady rhythms of Sinsemilla shook up the nation, swiftly followed by the earth-shattering Red. That would explain the track list, as the band storms through those albums' many highlights, then reach back into Showcase for a quartet of earlier classics, and "I Love King Selassie," drawn from their debut. So, for those who didn't haunt the British sound systems or import shops, this was probably the first introduction to the group's earlier works, and what a revelation it must have been. The familiar numbers off their smash British albums received roars of approval, but it's obvious the entire set was met with not just approval but ecstasy by fans. The band was on fire, the militant rhythms slamming out of the speakers, the guitar licks searing the rafters, and the trio ablaze with righteousness, Michael Rose's cries of "ay-oh" eliciting an echoing roar of the same from the crowds, the audience exuberantly quickening to his every utterance. The mastering and production excises a bit of the band's atmospheres, for the sound is a bit stark and clean, with none of the rough and smudged edges the group actually delivered up live, but the dread aura of the music remains intact. This was Black Uhuru at their revolutionary heights, and Live 84 is a potent reminder of just how great those heights were.


Formed: 1974 in Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The most successful of the second-generation reggae bands, Black Uhuru maintained their high quality despite numerous personnel changes in their 40-plus-year history. The first reggae band to win a Grammy award, for their 1983 album Anthem, Black Uhuru was called "The most dynamic and progressive reggae act of the 1970s and early '80s." The band, whose name comes from the Swahili word meaning "freedom," was formed in the Waterhouse district of Kingston by Don Carlos, Rudolph "Garth" Dennis, and...
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Live 84, Black Uhuru
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