Black Symbol
Sugar Shack Records
April 22, 2014

Track list
  1. I'm Not Afraid
  2. Mama Africa
  3. Bongo Man
  4. Morning Dew
  5. Journey
  6. What A Joy
  7. Nothing For The Poor
  8. Let It Shine
  9. Jah People
  10. Mr. Money Man
  11. Bongo Man (Version)
  12. I'm Not Afraid (Dub)
  13. Morning Dew (Version)
  14. What A Joy (Version)
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Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 5-
Very Good -Votes: 1-
Good -Votes: 1-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 0-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 7
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
The late 1970's was a time of endless creativity and prosperity for Reggae Musik in the UK. Steel Pulse, Aswad, Capital Letters, Black Slate, Misty In Roots and many others were making a monumental impact on the scene. The "many others" include the legendary Black Symbol. A Birmingham based Roots band that released some incredible singles and the highly sought after "Handsworth Explosion" albums in the late 70's to early 80's. After a 30 year hiatus, they have returned with "Journey", a new set that is seamlessly a direct link to their Foundation sound with brilliant consideration of today's true Roots sound. Sounds like they never left...

Founding member Fat Man was born in St.Anns, JA in 1956 and moved to England in 1973. Quick to trot, he became immersed in the burgeoning Handsworth music scene. Black Symbol released powerful anthems like "None A Jah Jah Children" "Solidarity" "Feeling Is Irie" and "Trouble Trouble"(all becoming every serious collector's dream to have). Always giving back to the community, they financed two "Handsworth Explosion" albums that showcased local talent like a young Benjamin Zephaniah and Mystic Foundation. After this hiatus, Fat Man linked with backing vocalist Empress Bev and joined forces with twice Grammy nominated producer Paul Horton (Ecks Productions) and cut tracks at his Ecks Studio (Birmingham) with a vision to keep the integrity of Black Symbol intact and vital. The results are amazing.

This highly spiritual set opens majestically with I'm Not Afraid. A Niyabinghi driven anthem that truly glorifies The Most High. Fat Man has a throaty approach (similar to Clinton Fearon) that is flecked with soul and raw emotion. The angelic voice of Empress Bev with a classic riddim makes this something special. Mama Africa harks back to their original sound in true order. Fat Man takes Dread command and expresses his desire to journey back to The Motherland away from concrete living. The expertly mixed rock solid riddim has the perfect blend of modern and classic Roots method. Bongoman is an anthem for the ages! In pure Niyabinghi order, he chants "there's no night in Zion...you need no candlelight". This track shall resonate for years to come with it's earthy and ethereal approach that's as Ital as Jah created.

Morning Dew is a slow skanker that will absorb you with Bev's appeal, taut drums and floating horns that sound like they're from Mt.Zion. The title track is pure upliftment and encompasses the basis of the entire set. "Come away from the sinking sands, from the muddy water..with a clean heart, step into Ethiopia land". Sounds like a personal and universal fulfillment that's delivered from the Heart both musically and spiritually. Triumph, indeed! What A Joy is pure joy! Empress Bev opens angelically and gives way to Fat Man's Burning Spearesque approach. A bubbling riddim adds to this work of Jah art. Nothing For The Poor is fantastic. On top of a tight Dancehall riddim, it evokes memories of Culture's "Money Girl" but with total originality. Staying true to original vision, proceeds of this anthem were donated to help Handsworth's less fortunate. Instant rewinda on this track!

Let It Shine has universal appeal. Paul Horton's polished production allows this stirring Lover's cut to shine for music lovers worldwide with vivid guitar licks, keys and great chorus. Boomshot. Jah People brings back the '70's sound in solid foundation. With a Gladiators quality, Fat Man rides the riddim with ital flow and reminds us about wickedness in high and low places. The final vocal track Mr.Money Man is sincere and powerful. A history lesson about the greed of money delivered in true Dread fashion. We are treated to some great versions to round out the set. Bongoman (version) is ancient order and will take you to the Highest Region. Reminiscent of the "Inna De Yard" sessions from a few years ago but with more production. I'm Not Afraid (Dub) is a musical pot that truly showcases the incredible talent of the musicians. Serious riddim here! The versions of Morning Dew and What A Joy are majestic and really have a distinctive U.K feel that are presented tastefully and royally.

Black Symbol's "Journey" has been well worth the three decade wait! One of the most spiritual sets to come out of this musically rich land in a long time. There is a predominant Zion atmosphere that really hasn't been embraced since early IJahman Levi or Burning Spear efforts. Yes, it's that good. It's a blessing to realize that such authentic music for the Heart and Soul is being made now. A culmination of the past, present and future. Even if you've never heard of Black Symbol, pick up a copy and be blown away. Words can only describe so much! Highest recommendation!! GO DEH!!!