Michael Rose

Party in Session -- Live

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It had been over a decade since Michael Rose had last performed in the States. Although the artist continued recording after his departure from Black Uhuru, none of his music was released in the U.S., and fans were thrilled when the first finally appeared in 1995, driven to distraction by his inclusion on the Heartbeat label's Culture Splash Tour the following year. Party in Session -- Live was recorded during this tour, with the bulk from his set at Slims in San Francisco on June 21 and a pair of numbers taken from the show at Red Rocks in August. The audience can barely contain themselves; their continuous cheering and singing act as a sonic backdrop to Rose's 16-song strong set. It's a carefully chosen mix of new and old, showcasing some of Rose's greatest numbers from his Black Uhuru days and before ("I Love King Selassie" dates from that group's predecessor, Black Sounds Uhuru). Thus a steam of Uhuru classics are revisited -- "Sensemilla," "Shine Eye Gal," "Plastic Smile," "Youths of Eglington," and "General Penitentiary" among them, and, of course, the big daddy of them all, [RoviLink="MC"]"Guess Who's Coming

to Dinner."[/RoviLink] Rose treats them all with love and respect, no shaking them up for the shock value, although the backing S.A.N.E. Band gives even the moodiest amongst them a contemporary punch. The group's phenomenal musicianship and spectacular arrangements deserve special mention. Their sound is superb, rich, and full of depth and atmosphere, and although its impossible to equal the Revolutionaries original splendor, the band's accompaniment never suffers in comparison. Their lighter (for who could equal Sly & Robbie's heavy, heavy sound) style gives the songs a welcome modern flavor while remaining true to the numbers' roots. "Eglington" and "Sensemilla" are particular standouts, as is "Dinner," with its slight dancehall sheen and funky feel. This allows Rose to shift into his newer numbers with ease. For example, the dancehall inflections of "Sensemilla" set the stage for the pure dancehall fire of "How You Fi do That." In contrast, his newest hit, "Rude Boys (Back in Town)," is given a sumptuous rootsy backing, allowing it to slot perfectly between the simmering "Short Temper" and the thoroughly revitalized "Eglington." If you were at these shows, you can now continually relive the glory of the moment -- if not enjoy it for the first time, and time and time again.

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