12" | 2017 | EU | Original (Jah Fingers)
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Release:2017 / EU – Original
Genre:Reggae / Dancehall
The story of the great roots reggae harmony trio Black Uhuru is one defined by many unexpected twists and turns. In its best known form, led by Michael Rose and with founding member Duckie Simpson and the black American female vocalist, Puma Jones, the group would enjoy the greatest popularity of any act in the wake of Bob Marley’s untimely death in 1981, but the origins of the group lay in the turbulent Waterhouse district during the mid-1970s. Duckie first formed the group as Uhuru, the Swahili word for unity, with Garth Dennis as lead singer and Don Carlos to join him in harmony; after cutting an adaptation of the Impressions’ “Romancing To The Folk Song” at Dynamics, “Time Is On Our Side” at Randy’s for Clive Chin, and “Slow Coach” for Raymond “Benno” Anderson, Dennis drifted into the Wailing Souls and Don Carlos went solo, leading Duckie to recruit rising Waterhouse vocalist Michael “Tony” Rose as lead singer, and Errol Nelson from the Jays for harmony. Their debut album, Love Crisis, was produced, voiced and mixed at King Tubby’s studio by Prince Jammy and remains and outstanding example of Jammy’s roots reggae production phase. The song “Hard Ground” vamps on a similar theme to Marley’s “Talking Blues”: Rose sings of a life of everyday hardship, with destitution and homelessness the pervading factors. On the extended dub portion and dub the instrumental cuts that follow the alternate vocal take of this enthralling 12-inch EP, you can hear the non-standard instrumentation that helps make the work so innovative, with Winston Wright’s harpsichord melody emphasising the hopelessness of Rose’s emotive lyrics, the commanding rhythm and understated bass and guitar from Robbie Shakespeare and Chinna Smith completing the picture.