Black Uhuru and Grace Jones on Most Influential Albums list of 1981
Recognizing that 1981 was a year in which many classic albums were featured, uDiscoverMusic.com has compiled a list of those he considers iconic of the year as a “turning point” in music. Classics listed include “Red” by Jamaican reggae band Black Uhuru and “Nightclubbing” by Grace Jones.
“Red” was produced by Sly & Robbie – they also performed on “Nightclub”- and displayed the excellent songwriter talent of singer Michael Rose and found band Derrick“ Duckie ”Simpson. The album provided a reggae motif influenced by rock and dub followed by many musicians since.
Black Uhuru was formed in 1972 – Uhuru means “Freedom” in Swahili – but has experienced several different formations over the years. Simpson has always been the mainstay, however. The band’s most successful period came in the 1980s, when the album “Anthem” won the very first Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1985.
Hailing from the Waterhouse district of Kingston, the band was originally called “Black Sounds Uhuru” and included Garth Dennis, Don Carlos and Derrick “Duckie” Simpson. When none of their first recordings were successful, they went their separate ways, with Carlos and Dennis each soloing. A new version of the group included Errol Nelson of The Jayes and Michael Rose, and their first album “Love Crisis” was released in 1977 with Prince Jammy as producer. When Nelson returned to the Jayes later in the year, he was replaced in 1978 by Sandra “Puma” Jones, a South Carolina social worker who had been a dancer for Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus, as well as a Mama member. Africa. The group changed their name to Black Uhuru around this time.
The band, which worked with Sly and Robbie, had a string of hit singles including “General Penitentiary” and “Shine Eye Gal”, which starred guitarist Keith Richards. The band’s reputation solidified at the Reggae Sunsplash Festival of 1980. They were signed to Island Records in 1980 and released the album “Sinsemilla” under that label internationally in 1981. “Red” was the album. follow-up, and it reached number 28 on the UK Albums Chart in 1981. In 1982, they toured with the Rolling Stones, and “Red” ranked number 23 on the list of 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s from Rolling Stone magazine.
In February 2004, Simpson and Michael Rose reunited under the name “Black Uhuru feat. Michael Rose “and with backing vocalist Kay Starr released the single” Dollars “. In 2012, the band recorded” As the World Turns “with guest artists Aterciopelados and Jarabe De Palo. A 25th anniversary edition DVD of the” Live in “concert London ”was released in June 2008. The band re-recorded all tracks except one from“ As the World Turns, ”which was released in September 2018. Black Uhuru toured the US in 2016 with Andrew Bees on vocals and Elsa Green on backing vocals.
Jamaican-born singer and style icon Grace Jones released her fifth album “Nightclubbing” with dub beats from Sly and Robbie. It featured the dance hit “Pull Up to the Bumper” as well as covers of songs that included the title track, written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
Model, record producer and actress as well as recording artist, Grace Jones was born in British Jamaica, but her family moved to Syracuse, New York when she was 13. She started a modeling career in New York State, then moved to Paris and worked for high fashion houses like Kenzo and St. Laurent, and appeared on the covers of Elle and Vogue magazines. In 1977, she began her musical career, securing a recording contract with Island Records and becoming a central feature of the Studio 54 disco scene in New York City. It evolved into a new wave style in the 1980s that featured influences from reggae, funk, post-punk and pop. She has often collaborated with Sly and Robbie.
The 1981 release of the album “Nightclubbing” featured Jones’ covers of songs from Flash and the Pan, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, and Astor Piazzolla. Three of the songs on the album were written by Jones, while Sting wrote “Demolition Man” which he then recorded with The Police. The album also includes a song by Marianne Faithfull. “Nightclubbing” is characterized by its strong beats and has been produced by Compass Point All Stars, including Sly and Robbie, Wally Badarou, Mikey Chung, Uziah “Sticky” Thompson and Barry Reynolds. It was ranked in the top 5 albums in four countries and became Grace Jones’ highest ranked recording on the mainstream US album Billboard and the R&B charts.
It was number 1 on NME’s Album of the Year list, and Slant Magazine ranked it at number 40 among the best albums of the 1980s. The album is now considered Jones’ best studio album.