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Reggae Rose

[whitespace] Michael Rose Conscious Party Player: The Freedom Fighters Tour brings Michael Rose to the Edge this week.

Michael Rose of Black Uhuru prospers on his own

By Nicky Baxter

AS BLACK UHURU'S lead vocalist and primary songwriter, Michael Rose personified the revolutionary spirit of reggae. He was the key figure during Black Uhuru's creative peak in the late 1970s, and his lyrically hardcore African redemptionism, coupled with his unusual vocal approach, garnered critical plaudits as well as commercial success. Rose's split with Black Uhuru in the mid-'80s was rather less than amicable, and unlike that of many an artist associated with a famous group opting to go solo, his career has flourished.

Rose has recorded a string of hits in the past few years: "Last Chance" and "Rude Boys" were both featured when he performed on his last visit to the Bay Area. That show proved that his gifts as a stylist and a showman remain undiminished. On Party in Session--Live, Rose's most recent disc for Heartbeat, the singer's idiosyncratic chatting is fully intact. Recorded at Slim's in San Francisco during the 1997 Heartbeat Culture Splash Tour, the album is an apt summation of the artist's career thus far. A judicious mix of Black Uhuru-era hits ("Sensimilla," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?") and solo works, the disc captures the "conscious party" atmosphere of a typical Michael Rose concert.

Backed by an exceptionally tight instrumental unit dubbed the S.A.N.E. band, Rose turns every tune into an anthem. His version of "Youths of Eglington" doesn't cut the original but is powerful nonetheless. The audience knows every word and chants along with the singer. Fittingly, "Solidarity" concludes the set. As the first notes ring out, the crowd roars its approval. Rose's grainy voice reiterates each phrase, pushing the tune to a tumultuous climax. For all his studio triumphs both as a member of Black Uhuru and on his own, Rose should be witnessed live--his concerts provide a positively redemptive experience. Rose headlines the Freedom Fighters Tour along with young reggae phenom Andrew Tosh.

Michael Rose performs Thursday (July 15) at the Edge, 260 California Ave., Palo Alto. Doors 7pm. Tickets are $14 adv., $15 door. (650/324-EDGE)

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From the July 15-21, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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