“Showcase” is the trio’s second album as “Black Uhuru”. By 1979, the band had called itself “Black Sound Uhro”, then “Uhuru”. For the ‘Showcase’ album, recorded at Channel One Studio, Sandra “Puma” Jones joins the group, now fronted by Michael Rose.
The “showcase” phenomena predominated during this period. This style of album featured 5-8 singles by the popular reggae group of the day, each track fading into the version. Personally, I absolutely love showcase albums. I don’t know why you don’t see them anymore.
The album includes tracks recorded by Uhuru between 1975-1978, while they were backed by Joseph “Jo Jo” Hookim’s Studio One in-house band, The Revolutionaries, led by the now legendary duo, Sly & Robbie. The Revolutionaries were actually built around the riddim twins in 1975, marking the first Sly & Robbie collaborations in the studio.
All tracks except “Shine Eye” were produced by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespear, and were released on the Duo’s upstart Taxi Production label, on which Black Uhuru has contributed to the imprints inaugural release with the single, “Observe Life”. Of the albums seven tracks, Michael Rose is credited with writing all except the final track, “Plastic Smile”, which was written by both Michael Rose and band member Derrick “Ducky” Simpson. Each vocal track was followed seamlessly by a dub version of almost equal length. None of the album’s tracks are under five and a half minutes in length.
The Black Uhuru “Showcase” album is later re-issued by the Black Rose label, and on Richard Branson’s Virgin label as “Black Uhuru Vital Selection” in 1980.
In 1983, North American based Heartbeat Records, licensed the album’s masters, and repackaged the album again, this time as “Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner”, with a cover photo by Deborah Feingold. This version was wildly successful, with additional releases in Japan by CBS/Sony (1983). In 1987 Heartbeat released the album on compact disc, and JHO Music re-issued the disc in Brazil in 1995.
Of note here are the mixes of the “versions,” or dubs, to each track, which are unique to this record. I cannot recall hearing these versions in this mix on any other release. Also, the track “Natural Reggae Beat” is a stunning display of riddimatics (yes, I just made that up) by Sly and Robbie. This is one of Uhuru’s more obscure tracks, and may even be considered rare.
The original pressing of this album on the Taxi label is a true classic. Rare and expensive. It can go at auction anywhere from $20 USD to more than $100 USD. I found mine for $10 USD while digging a few years back. Truly blessed to have found this.
Leaving To Zion
Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner
Natural Reggae Beat