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Reggae Greats

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Album Review

Reggae Greats is a straight CD release of Black Uhuru's 1985 LP of the same title that collected the best tracks from the group's four early-'80s studio albums for Island Records. This was arguably the peak incarnation of the band, and certainly the most stable lineup, with Michael Rose handling the lead vocals, Duckie Simpson and Puma Jones taking care of the harmonies, and the world-class reggae rhythm section of Sly Dunbar on drums and Robbie Shakespeare on bass holding it all down and also providing production direction. The backing tracks are rhythmic, atmospheric delights, full of unexpected, chiming percussion touches that give everything a bright shine, even as the subject matter of the songs veers firmly into political and social territory. Included are "Happiness," "World Is Africa," and "Push Push" from 1980's Sinsemilla, "Youth of Eglington" and "Sponji Reggae" from 1981's Red, "Darkness" and "Right Stuff" from 1982's Chill Out, and "What Is Life," "Bull in the Pen," and "Elements" from 1983's Anthem. There are anthologies available that chart the complete history of Black Uhuru, but these are the key tracks from the albums that gave the group its international audience. Unfortunately, when the Island contract ended, so did this version of the band.

Biography

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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Reggae Greats, Black Uhuru
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