Black Uhuru – Shine Eye Gal

26th March 2024 · 1970s, 1979, Music, Reggae

Black Uhuru were everywhere in the late ’70s. It seemed they would step into Bob Marley’s shoes after his death in 1981 – only for their lead singer, Michael Rose, to leave the group.

They soldiered on with a soundalike replacement, Junior Reid but their finest days were with the central trio of Rose, founder member Duckie Simpson and Puma Jones, a social worker from South Carolina with a master’s degree from Columbia University.

Uhuru’s early run of tunes – Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, General Penitentiary and this one, Shine Eye Gal – are all peerless, and it’s worth seeking out the original Jamaican versions before they were re-recorded when Chris Blackwell, who brought Marley and the Wailers to global fame, signed them to his Island Records.

The subsequent albums Sinsemilla, Red, Chill Out and the Grammy-winning Anthem, are all essential parts of any serious reggae collection, though the two earlier albums released in Jamaica – Love Crisis and Showcase – have a rootsier sound.

Nonetheless, those Island albums do have the authenticity of roots music, thanks especially to that rhythm section of Sly and Robbie, with socially concerned lyrics and, most importantly, tunes you can sing in the shower decades later. It only requires someone to ask the words “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” to kick that one off in my head.

This track features Keith Richards on lead guitar, though I’m guessing he’s only on the later version that appeared on the Island album re-released with this tune as a bonus track.