Black Uhuru/Chill Out


Black Uhuru are a Jamaican reggae group formed in 1972, initially as Uhuru (Swahili for ‘freedom’). The group has undergone several line-up changes over the years, and had their most successful period in the 1980s, with their album Anthem winning the first ever Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1985.

Chill Out is an album by reggae band Black Uhuru, released in 1982 (see 1982 in music). The album was recorded at Channel One Studios in Jamaica and produced by Sly & Robbie. Featuring The Revolutionaries, an influential session group, Chill Out, together with its dub companion The Dub Factor, is widely considered a classic of reggae music.

Chill Out peaked at #156 on Billboard’s (North America) Pop Albums chart. {Wikipedia]

This was my first foray into Reggae music…even before Marley, and this band remains a very favorite of mine.

Chill Out—-With the familiar three beat that has made Reggae favorite, Uhuru delivers the classic sound with vigor and a really great produced sound. The entrance of the nasally vocal adds the cherry on top of the whole thing and manages to create a masterpiece at the same time. The vocal is so real and true that you know at once you are listening to the true island form of Reggae. This is relaxed, inspirational and downbeat all at once…a masterful song, I hope I can find a video for it.

Darkness—-With a lively and island style beat, the band seems to be all involved on this song as there is no quite specific vocal on the chorus but rather a fun group effort. I love the way the voice is so drawn out and truly authentic. The dialect is masterful and you are able to completely lose yourself in the hazy, warm sunny sound of the music. The lyrical content is heart rendering and makes you think about how other live. This is true art. When he utters the line…’the deaf, the dumb, the blind…’ I get chills from the emotional tone of the voice.

Eye Market—-This is really a slow jam style Reggae track with lots of built-in vibe and many voices adding to the mix of vocals. The track is so slow that you find your head nodding whether you realize it or not…the vibe is chill and almost experimental with the odd blips and beeps that are added by Sly & Robbie. This is a masterpiece slow island jam. Smoke em’ if you got em’!!!

Right Stuff—-Moving away from the straight up island style of Reggae, this combines more of a dance groove than other tracks on the release. The beat is faster and laden with a few more effects that are generated from keyboards than straight up three beat instrumentation. There seem to be a number of voices on this, it is not my favorite, but manages to fit very cohesive in the order of the songs. This is nice.

Mondays—-Still after all of these years, this remains a very favorite song of mine. I remember when I bought this cassette for the very first time in this small little record shop in a downtown shopping center called Portside here in Toledo. Of course, it was on a Monday and so it goes…..this is a classic island styled beat that laments the feelings of people everywhere in the world…the one day we don’t like is Monday!!! The beat is so relaxed, you can lean back and pretend it is still Sunday without any problem. This is classic in every way…if you have not heard this please…seek it out.

Fleety Foot—-Although this song sticks true to the classic sound of Reggae, the dub is lying low in the backdrop and threatens at times to take over the song. The vocal is a chorus of men and woman chants that make up the chorus, to tell you the truth i much prefer the refrain. This guy has got the whole vibe and dialect down…this is pleasant, relaxing and genuine.

Wicked Act—-This is so mellow and laid back that you are almost encouraged to smoke up and enjoy the haze that the music produces. This is remarkable…the twmpo of the song is so slow that you threaten to lose attention at times. This is true in form and true to the consistent sound of the band. Really nice!!!

Moya, Moya—-Again, the song has a magic breeze that just seems to swim through the song and cause a cerebral relaxation. The vocal is very low-key and is joined all through the track with the by now familiar female backdrop singers. There is a level of dub that runs through the song, but it magically remains undistractiong and understated. Very nice indeed.

Emotional Slaughter—-Perhaps the best known song from this release, the song has its high pooints but has never really resonated with me. The familiar ever-present three beat is gone from the song and is pushed way in the back in favor of a more modern up tempo Americanized sound. I love the nasal delivery of the vocal…this is real and emotional with very little change in vocal tone…this guy is magic in my book. I could do without the female voices that keep popping up, rather prefer the straight on nasally delivery that speaks of the islands to me.

****3/4 out of 5

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