Black Uhuru, Sinsemilla

Richard Henderson

By Richard Henderson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The earliest appearance of the Compass Point sound.

Black Uhuru emerged at the head of a second wave of Jamaican vocal trios, in the wake of dread threesomes like Burning Spear and Culture. Like those earlier groups, Black Uhuru was more or less a platform for singer-songwriter Michael Rose. With drummer Sly Dunbar and the bass of Robbie Shakespeare fully merged within the Uhuru sound, the band became a proper performing unit — a band, distinct from the singers-plus-session-players model predominant in reggae during the ’70s. Sly's enthusiasm for synthetic drum sounds surfaced with a vengeance on Sinsemilla (its title track a paean to the superiority of seedless herb). The militant rhythms carved out by Black Uhuru marked the earliest appearance of the Compass Point sound, named for the Bahamian studio run by Island Records boss Chris Blackwell and often home to Sly & Robbie, who in later years played with everyone from Grace Jones to Carly Simon.