On The Ground
Black Roots
Sugar Shack Records / Bristol Archive Records
September 16, 2012

On the Ground - Black Roots Track list
  1. I Believe
  2. Pompous Way
  3. Long Long Ago
  4. Militancy
  5. Earthland
  6. I Am Flying
  7. Slavery0
  8. Oh Mama Africa
  9. Hide Out
  10. On The Ground
  11. Call Me Out
  12. No Fee
  13. Struggle
  14. Landscape
  15. Without Direction
  16. Capitalism
  17. Come And Sing
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Essential -Votes: 4-
Very Good -Votes: 1-
Good -Votes: 1-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 2-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 8
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
The British Reggae world has seen a revival time this year. Black Slate has released a new album, Steel Pulse is still active, members of Naturalites are thriving and the legendary Black Roots have come back 'to the frontline' with their first new work in over twenty years; "On The Ground".

Black Roots are an eight piece Roots unit who mezmorised us with their "militant-pacifism" roots sound for over twenty five years. They formed back in 1979 in the St.Pauls section of Bristol, England. Comprised of Errol Brown and Delroy Ogilvie on vox, Kondwani Ngozi on vox and percussion, Jabulani Ngozi on riddim guitar, Cordell Francis on lead guitar, Trevor Seivwright on drums, the late Derrick King on bass and Carlton Roots on vox and keyboards; these talents toured the country incessantly and made waves. Their thought provoking lyrics, showmanship and soulful harmonies caught instant attention and their early singles, "Bristol Rock", "The Father" and the Jah Woosh remixed "Juvenile Deliquent" made them the champions of the arena. By 1983, their self-titled first abum drew critical acclaim... and they never stopped to look back.

"On The Frontline" continued their success and 1985, their BBC sessions were packaged as "In Session" (rereleased by Makasound in 2007) and their mighty "All Day All Night" (1986) was produced by the Mad Professor and boasted the Aswad horn section. Their 1989 live album "Live Power" (recorded in Wales) remains one of the most powerful live Reggae recordings to date! Their final vocal album, "Natural Reaction" was a soulful affair and alas the band relatively disbanded. Three dub albums (Dub Factor 1-3) remixed by Dub Judah and Mad Professor ensued until 1995. Little more was heard from these legends with the exception of Delroy relocating to Jamaica and releasing "Farm Diggin" (2005) with his Orange Street band and the unexpected passing of bassie Derrick in October 2011. Bristol Archive Records has reissued some of their earlier works that resparked interest in their legacy. The listeners wanted more and Black Roots listened.

Black Roots has risen out of the Bristol fog with "On The Ground" released on Sugar Shack in collaboration with their own Nubian label. Recorded lacally at Bristol's J & J Studios, it boasts a lush mix by Louis Beckett and this is a self production. The opening track "I Believe" keeps the sound on par with their heyday vibes. Lush horn section, wicked guitar licking and soulful harmonies tackle social issues - "Life in the system is not easy". "Pompous Way" is vintage Black Roots all the while. Slinky horns and percussion fitting nicely with supreme vocalisms about the errors of today's ways. "Long, Long Ago" is a simple structure that works; talking about the ital old ways of country life - ites. "Militancy" exemplifies their unique militant roots quality. A somber, dread track with a killer chorus that takes the crown. "Earthland" boasts vivid horn riffs and streams of conciousness.

"I Am Flying" is a Roots Steppa and a itally dominating work that draws the listener in. "Oh Mama Africa" harks back to their earliest sound - nothing flashy, organised structure and gets the message across. "Hide Out" is an orchestral Roots masterpiece giving thanks and Glory unto Jah with a Jahzzy and Soulful touch. The title track feels out a vintage riddim and examines oppression in a fresh and urgent fashion. "Call Me Out" and "No Fee" are two of the most Soulful tracks on this masterpiece by far! Brilliant sax work introduces "Struggle"; a track that doesn't struggle with veterans coming together as one beautiful sound. "Capitalism" showcases how well these bredrin can tell a true, true story; with the help of some bubblin' horns and an almost Dancehall feel. The final track, "Come And Sing", stirs the emotions and closes this album nicely.

Black Roots couldn't have done it better! After a long, long hiatus; the world didn't know what to expect. The result is that they have recaptured their original sound; impartial to trying to keep inna these Digital times. With the exception of a 'digital age' reference in "Pompous Way", one would think these tracks were recorded in their heyday. The only difference here is that they have deeper chorus values and more of a Jazzy/Soulful feel that works royally. A magnificent performance at the Wow! Fest on The Isle Of Wight alongside The Wailers, UB40 and Maxi Priest cemented their return to legendary status. 2012 has been a great year for bands reuniting. Black Roots's latest is the leader of the pack! Highest recommendation.