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Keith Richards and Black Uhuru
January 1979: Keith records a few tracks with reggae group Black Uhuru at Channel One Studios, Kingston, Jamaica. Among them, “Shine Eye Gal” was the only one officially released, which showed up in the GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER album, released in March 1980.
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Generally acknowledged to be Black Uhuru’s masterpiece as well as one of the defining documents of roots reggae, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (originally released on the Taxi label under the title Showcase in 1979, then reissued as Black Uhuru in 1980) was the first album to feature singer Puma Jones as a member of the group’s vocal trio lineup, and it was also their first with Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. These additions gave the group a tremendous lift: Jones’ keening, almost North African-inflected voice became an instantly identifiable part of Black Uhuru’s sound, and the chugging rhythms supplied by Dunbar and Shakespeare were the perfect instrumental accompaniment.
True to its original title, this collection of singles and new tracks is presented in “showcase” style; each track is followed without pause by a dub version. “Leaving to Zion” and “General Penitentiary” are typical of Black Uhuru’s lyrical concerns, and lead singer Michael Rose’s sharp tenor voice and wordless ululations convey a sense of dark foreboding; on “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” he sounds like a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer and repentance. Highly recommended.