Black Uhuru: Michael Rose, Puma Jones, Derrick Simpson (vocals).
Additional personnel: Rad "Duggie" Bryan, "Ranchie" MacLean (guitar); Jimmy Becker (harmonica); Ansell Collins (piano, organ); Robbie Shakespeare (bass); Sly Dunbar (drums, electronic drums); "Sticky" Thompson (percussion).
Recorded at Channel One Studio, Kingston, Jamaica, on January 26, 1980. Originally released on Mango (9593). Includes liner notes by David Katz.
This is part of "Reggae Classics" series.
Only a shade less great than 1981's RED, 1980's SINSEMILLA, Black Uhuru's debut on Island Records, is still mightily impressive. Powered by the songwriting and distinctive, soulful tenor of Michael Rose, and sweetened by the harmonies of Derrick "Duckie" Simpson and Sandra "Puma" Jones (the use of the male/female vocal trio was the group's defining characteristic), Black Uhuru combined roots reggae and hypnotic, almost futuristic grooves. Unlike many roots acts from the '60s and '70s, Black Uhuru wasn't afraid to incorporate keyboard-generated sounds into the mix. Spacey synth accents join earthy rhythms and traditional Rasta themes--Black pride, spiritual uplift, the celebration of marijuana--in a way that is tied to reggae's past, yet sounds totally fresh.
But Black Uhuru's real secret weapon is the presence of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, the legendary rhythm section/production duo. As instrumentalists, Sly and Robbie lend incessantly propulsive rhythms to SINSEMILLA, and their production--dark, complex, crisp, and psychedelic at once--is a revelation. Guitars, auxiliary percussion, and other instruments swim through the heady, swirling mix, while Rose, Simpson, and Jones sing passionately on "World Is Africa" and "Push Push," among others. This is a mesmerizing and deeply enduring album from one of reggae's finest groups.