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Black Uhuru Red Review

Album. Released 1981.  

BBC Review

Together the trio make the last stand for roots culture.

Chris Jones 2008

By 1979 the 'classic' line up of Black Uhuru was ready to conquer the world. Derek "Duckie" Simpson and Michael Rose, who had been together with Errol Nelson since 1977 now formed a partnership with American social worker, Sandra "Puma" Jones. It was her sweet vocal addition to the heady mix that was to prove the turning point.

In the early '80s if you wanted both critical and popular approval in the the dancehalls, there was only one rhythm team you needed to call to get your skank on: Sly and Robbie. It was Shakespeare and Dunbar who had sat behind the desk of the band's previous (breakthrough) album, Sinsemillia. In truth, Red, coming only eight months after serves up the same sunshiney mix of roots vibrations and electronic gadgetry.

It's a fairly irresistible mix of radical politics (Youth Of Eglington, Carbine) and positive fun (Sponji Reggae) all topped off with Rasta spirituality (Utterance) and good humour (Puff She Puff). Michael Rose's voice is a distinctive wail that delivers the mid-tempo numbers with conviction. Together the trio make the last stand for roots culture. Following this reggae was to take a dramatic swerve into ragga and dancehall, and such righteous fare was suddenly outmoded.

Yet, for a time they were THE name to drop, whether you were in Brixton or Brighton, even garnering a support slot with the Rolling Stones on a world tour. And while they continued to be a top draw for many years (a version of the band still exists), Red remains the peak of their back catalogue.

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