Monday, January 30, 2012

"Sponji Reggae" by Black Uhuru - January 29th 80's Quest Band/Song of the Day

I have no clue in the world how I got into reggae band, Black Uhuru, but I remember playing their 1981 album “Red” a lot on my stereo.  This particular clip (from 1981) shown today on 80’s quest, is from the Swedish television show Mandagsborsen, and was the only performance by Black Uhuru on Swedish TV.   The line-up of Black Uhuru evolved many times during its 16 year career, but the line-up on the “Red” album consisted of Michael Rose, Sandra “Puma” Jones, and Derrick “Duckie” Simpson.  Sly and Robbie produced the “Red” album, after producing their successful “Sinsemilla” album a year before in 1980.
Black Uhuru were a reggae band from the Waterhouse district of Kingston, Jamaica, formed in 1972 and originally called Uhuru, which is Swahili for “freedom”.  Later they changed their name to Black Sounds Uhuru, and finally Black Uhuru.  Derrick “Duckie” Simpson was the founder, driving force and constant member throughout the years.

Sandra “Puma” Jones, a social worker from South Carolina joined the band in 1977.  She had been a dancer for Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus, and a member of the group Mama Africa.  Black Uhuru started doing a lot of work with Sly & Robbie and recording their most successful singles.  Island records signed them in 1980 and released their “Sinsemilla” album internationally.  The follow-up album was “Red”, and then “Chill Out” in 1982.  During this time Black Uhuru toured with The Rolling Stones. 

Rose had a falling-out with Simpson and left the group to pursue a solo career.  He was replaced by Junior Reid.  The band was signed to RAS Records and took a different more dance-oriented direction with their 1986 album “Brutal” and their single “The Great Train Robbery”.  “Brutal” was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Even though success was at hand, the band began to disintegrate.   They stopped working with Sly & Robbie.  Their next album was never completed.  Sandra “Puma” Jones left the band due to health reasons, and unfortunately died in 1990 from cancer.

There have been some reunion shows (of the original line-up) and other albums released in the 90’s.  In 1989 Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Black Uhuru’s album “Red” as #23 on their list of the “100 Greatest Albums of the 1980’s”.   Other trivial facts:  The song “Great Train Robbery” appears in the Grand Theft Auto:  San Andreas video game on the fictitious radio station K-Jah West.  The song “Sponji Reggae” was featured in a episode on season two of “The Cosby Show” (Denise Huxtable and her boyfriend were watching the video for the song on t.v.).

You bum right here and you
bounce over there sponji reggae
I say you bum right here and
you bounce over there
sponji reggae
I say you rock right here and
you rock over there sponji reggae
I say you punch right here and you
punch over there sponji reggae

A keep trying very hard to succeed
I almost lost my reflex
My barefeet was burn
That I almost lost my nerves
My fingers are shaking as the
day start breaking
I could a never keep it no longer
I had to tell it to one another


You bum right here

Some say I am nuts zooky crazy
Want I to leave the music alone
They say go and look work
I and I are lazy
But I think for a while and
say to my self
It's a time for every style


I may not be a movie star
I don't drive a big fancy car
I can afford only a Winchester cigar
From the day I was born and
given life
I and I a actor genius name it
Genuine character


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