CD / Vinyl LP / Digital Release
September 23, 2014
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Two years ago, legendary UK Roots unit BLACK ROOTS released "On The Ground" which truly put them back on the map after a decades long hiatus. Their follow up "Ghetto Feel" on the highly respectable Soulbeats Records label is levels "above ground" and is a gem of absolute perfection. This unit has seamlessly embraced their original sound with stunning observation and a polished touch that's second to none.
BLACK ROOTS were formed in 1979 in the musical hub of Bristol and wasted no time; taking the world by storm from the early 80's to the mid 90's with a slew of timeless studio sets, a searing live album "Live Power" and a successful series of "Dub Factor" albums until hanging it up in 1995. Thankfully, the core of foundation members remain intact and "Ghetto Feel" features on vocals Carlton Smith, Errol Smith, Charles Bryan and Kondwani Ngozi. Further musicians include Cordell Francis (lead guitar), Jabulani Ngozi (rhythm guitar), Anthony Ward (drums), Colin McNeish (bass guitar), Henry Holder (keyboard), Patrick Tenyue (trumpet), Winston Rose (saxophone) and Henry "Buttons" Tenyue (trombone). This set is again produced by Jeff Spencer and Black Roots and features the mixing mastery of Louis Becket. This combination worked so well a few years ago, why not keep the same ital stew?
Cloudy Night is a blazing opener! Horns are up, Anthony's drumming is militant and Errol is triumphant giving praises to The Most High. Sounds like a "lost" track from their initial heyday, but with a tasteful modern touch. Bad Mind features vivid guitar chops and harks back to the quality of their "Juvenile Delinquent" days of the early 80's. Incredible homage to H.I.M over a riddim brimming with perfection. A Wah So? is a serious excursion. "Buried in a bone dance, one a found guilty... if you play with puppy, it will lick your mouth". An unapologetic observation of consciousness and wickedness across Creation. A track filled with crispy horns, incredible drum work and tight chorus. Standout! Albert Villa is interesting. "Living on the frontline, you've got to compromise". A story of tragedy and education of how to navigate in raw situations. Bluesy guitar riffs and lilting bass lay below these lyrics of intelligence. The title track is a soulful cut about the reality of ghetto life around Creation and the offer of an intelligent solution. A different sound from the band; it truly resonates and will demand instant replay with its raw emotion. Huge sound abound! The magic continues with Reclaim. Over a riddim riff with killer chops and a progressive drum pattern, we are asked a serious question. "What you a go when we reclaim all that is rightfully ours?" Pure Fyah here.
Street Life is sensational! The beauty of this song is that there is an underlying sense of hope amid the real situation of killings on the street depicted through personal observations and the wisdom of parents. Combine this with vivid horns, drums and keys and this is an anthem for all times. Lonely Journey has a Misty In Roots feel (another legendary UK Roots band) to it. A broad riddim is the platform for superior arrangements, lyrically and musically. The Earth boasts a rich Aswadesque sound and is a pure engagement of Heart, Mind and Soul; reminding us of the righteous path in an educational manner. Carnival again takes an Aswadesque horns approach with militant drumming and lyrics like "sly mongoose, I know your carnival." An incredible song educating us about wickedness complete with rich production and signature chorus. Drawn To My Attention is about the robbing of natural resources in dynamic Black Roots fashioned way! Listen carefully and you will learn. The closing track Stuck Pon Waff is a powerful depiction of the downfall of The British Empire. "Colonial power is sinking, conservative power is blazing fire." Mix in a deeply textured riddim and a deep history lesson is presented.
BLACK ROOT's "Ghetto Feel" has a more stripped down feel than their comeback set. Hard to say if it's their best because they always deliver the best and there has never been a less than stellar release from them. It is safe to say this is their most adventurous album in decades and is a culmination of the experience and trust that dwells within this tight unit. A flawless set of tracks has been presented; done so in an educational and entertaining manner. With so many great albums released this year, this one is in the running for one of the top three thus far. Highest recommendation. This release is a must; do trust. Go DEH!
Give thanks to Sarah and crew at Soulbeats Records, the France based label that has a keen eye on releasing Real Authentic Sound...
(The cd is available at www.shopsoulbeats.fr)