Black Symbol
Reggae Archive Records
CD / DBL LP / Digital Release
March 26, 2015

Track list
  1. Everything Has It's Time
  2. Everything Has It's Time (Version)
  3. None A Jah Jah Children
  4. None A Jah Jah Children (Version)
  5. Travel
  6. How Long
  7. Loving Jah
  8. In The Name Of Jah
  9. In The Name Of Jah (Dub)
  10. Trouble Trouble
  11. Spiritual Reggae
  12. Travelling
  13. My Heart Reveals Danger
  14. Dub Piano
  15. Solidarity
  16. Tension
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Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5
The problem with most British Reggae bands that emerged in the late 70's/early 80's was, that they took Bob Marley & The Wailers as a template. By doing so these self-contained bands more or less tried to benefit from the success of the Jamaican superstar instead of being creative and unique themselves. One of the very few bands that didn't follow that path was Birmingham's Black Symbol, an outfit formed around 1978. Although residing in Birmimgham, the childhood home of the band's core members was St Ann's, a parish on Jamaica's North coast, known as a hotbed of Reggae creativity and talent with Bob Marley and Winston Rodney aka Burning Spear being the most important exponents.

Black Symbol was - and still is - led by Fatman, who should not be confused with any 'other' Fatman for instance the one from Jamaica who ended up as a producer or the one who spent most of his time marshalling the Fatman Riddim Section. Black Symbol also shouldn't be confused with The Symbols who did tracks like "Misunderstanding", "Motherless Children" and "Black Man's Words". Besides being a band, Black Symbol also operated a small record label of the same name briefly. Rarely seen outside their native city, notheless their limited vinyl output has gained widespread 'legendary' status amongst serious roots collectors.

More than thirty years after they were originally recorded, the well respected people from Bristol's Reggae Archive Records finally release an excellent compilation of Black Symbol music consisting of singles, album tracks and previously unreleased records. Whilst the high quality double vinyl LP contains 12 tracks including versions, the CD version contains 16 tracks of which 4 are versions. Although recorded at Outlaw Studios in the heart of Birmingham, each and every track featured on this compilation has a strong Jamaican vibe, hardly ever experienced before when listening to Reggae recordings done in the UK.

The album kicks off with the deep meditative sound of the slow-paced "Everything Has Its Time" and the mesmerizing "Everything Has Its Time Version", setting the tone for things to come. Just like the majority of the other vocal tracks, "Everything Has Its Time" is spiritual, uplifting and joyful - a timeless celebration of Rasta belief. Further examples are the great "None A Jah Jah Children" (not a cover of the Ras Michael tune, but an original song!), the brilliant 7:38 mins lasting Roots anthem "Travel" and the solid "Loving Jah". In some tunes the influence of Burning Spear is evident like for example in the beautiful chant "In The Name Of Jah", the crucial "How Long" and "Travelling". Included here are also heartfelt tunes that deal with social commentary and political themes such as "Solidarity" and "Tension".

Strongly recommended for fans of deep, dark and heavy Roots music.