February 9, 2016

Black Uhuru - Red (1981)

Red is the third Black Uhuru album and perhaps their best. Actually, this is probably my favorite reggae junt ever, and in my eyes only rivaled by their previous album, Sinsemilla. Black Uhuru seems to have matured as a band from the last album--most notably having an actual woman, Puma Jones, sing the harmony. Fun fact: even though Puma (a social worker from New York City) is pictured on the Sinsemilla cover, it is really Michael Rose singing harmonies with a falsetto. Anyway, the album has a much crisper sound and sports the greatest reggae rhythm section ever, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, putting down their most innovative and iconic beats ever. Michael Rose is as on point as ever as a singer and writer; not to disrespect Bob Marley's work and influence, but I really think he has the most powerful solo voices in all of Jamaican music. Not only is this darker brand of roots reggae atmospherically different from most other roots albums, the melodies and choruses are also quite unique. The linn drum machine returns once more from Sinsemilla, but takes on a much more diminished role among a very technologically balanced album. The dubbing on Red is absolutely incredible and the mix quality of the striking piano melodies are worlds ahead of any other reggae piano recording. Simply put, this is one of the best produced reggae albums I have ever heard and the exceptional music easily makes this one of my favorite albums of all time. Whether you love this as much as me or not, I can assure you that you'll probably not find much Jamaican music as unique as this out there, trust me, I've spent a solid 6 years.