Black Slate
Big Break/Cherry Red Records
March 30, 2013

Black Slate Track list
  1. Amigo
  2. Mind Your Motion
  3. Reggae Music
  4. Sticksman '80
  5. Freedom Time
  6. Boom Boom
  7. Losing Game
  8. Romans
  9. Thin Line Between Love And Hate
  10. Legalize Collie Herb
  11. Black Slate Rock 12"
  12. Amigo (Single)
  13. Boom Boom (Single)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Reggae Musik has clearly gone international. Since the late 1960's, England has been a cornerstone of top grade singers and players of King's Musik. Groups like Aswad and Steel Pulse hit the musical wheel internationally in big ways. How can we forget bands like Misty In Roots, Reggae Regular, Naturalites, Black Roots, Capital Letters and BLACK SLATE? Fortunately, most of these groups are enjoying a Roots Revival. Black Slate has a summer tour announced with all members intact except for On-U-Sound's discovery Ghetto Priest as frontman. We now have a glimpse of their original heyday with the reissue of their classic 1980 set, "Amigo". Thank you to Big Break/Cherry Red crew for this!

Black Slate is England's third oldest Reggae band to make a splash (first were Matumbi and Cimarrons); being a major force as early as 1974. Comprised of Keith Drummond (lead vox), Ras Elroy Bailey (bass), Anthony Brightly (keys), Desmond Mahoney (drums), Chris Hanson (lead guitar) and Cledwyn Rogers (riddim guitar); they started out backing the likes of visiting luminaries Ken Boothe, Delroy Wilson and Dennis Brown. Desperate to strike their own fyasticks, they released their first single, "Sticksman" (1976) that mashed up the charts. In 1978, they did a national tour and released their second hit, "Mind Your Motion". This caught the attention of Ensign (Phonograph) Records which resulted in "Amigo". Unfortunately, with the passing of Mr. Nesta, record companies panicked and dropped Reggae acts quick. Black Slate was able to continue with a few more classic sets like "Sirens In The City" (1982), "Ogima" (Dub album) and "Six Plus One" (Top Ranking). By 1985, the group dissolved but Drummond and Bailey remained musical partners with notable sets like "Get Up And Dance" (mid 90's). Now, there have been talks of a new album. Stay tuned...

The first track, Amigo is a multi-layered Rasta affirmation. Keith's strong voice and the polished riddim is so ites to hear again. Mind Your Motion is an earthy gesture that turns into a Dubwise excursion featuring the horn section of Nicky Ridguard/Rudy Hynes - great, great song!! Keith takes on a Jacob Miller quality whilst praising The Almighty. Reggae Music is an absolute statement. A horn driven Rocker that depicts the acceptance of King's Musik worldwide - "Them love it inna America, this is the people's music". Sticksman '80 outdoes the original. It boasts a faster riddim and a horn section that won't stop. Keith is predominant scolding the robberman about their wicked works - classic. Freedom Time (Black Star Liner) is an anthem for the ages. An easy Rocker that remains an ode to repatriation and showcases the quality musicians fe real.

Boom Boom is a rendition of The Jamaicans' 1967 smash "Ba Ba Boom". The update honors the original inna pure Rasta style. Losing Game shifts gears as it tells of a love story gone sour. The throbbing bass and lilting keys are perfect for Keith's intelligent storytelling. Romans is an organic Steppers riddim with Desmond and Elroy making a killer riddim duo. Amazing song. Originally done by R&B group The Persuaders, Thin Line Between Love And Hate displays that Black Slate is well versatile doing ANY material; original or otherwise. Great Anglo-Carribean musical licks on this one. Legalize Collie Herb is in the top five Ganja anthems of all time. Over a bubbling riddim, Keith is both joyous and pained - "I couldn't buy a Rizla paper". Massive tune written with a sense of purpose. We are treated to three bonus tracks - Black Slate Rock and the singles of Amigo and Boom Boom.

Black Slate is one of the finest Reggae bands that the massive has yet to discover. Their albums were hard to find after initial pressing and picked up quick. With the reissue of the dynamic "Amigo", fans old and new will be more than delighted! Their urgent messages sound as pertinent as they did more than thirty years ago. This CD is guaranteed to please. Highest score. Go deh.