On The Frontline
Black Roots
May 28, 2004

Track list
  1. Frontline
  2. Juvenile Deliquent
  3. Africa
  4. Blackheart Man (extended)
  5. Move On (extended)
  6. War
  7. The Opportunity
  8. Far Over
  9. Struggling
  10. What Them A Do
  11. Signs & Wonders
  12. Tribal War
  13. The Father
  14. Survival
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 4/5
The latest release of Makasound, a relatively new reissue label from France that has come up with some very interesting releases so far, is a fine compilation set from the UK based band Black Roots. The band comprised the following musicians : Errol Brown, Delroy Ogilvie, Cordell Francis, Jabulani Nzogi, Kondwani Ngozi, Derrick King, Trevor Seivwright, Carlton Roots and Rico Rodriquez, Dick Cuthell & Ruddi Hymes on horns.

Black Roots was founded in the late 70's in Bristol's Jamaican neighbourhood. In order to produce their first record the band organised a concert and invited the audience to give whatever they could to help the community youngsters. They gathered some 1200 donors and in 1980 the band put out their first album, a 4 track EP, containing the tracks 'Bristol Rock', 'The Father', 'Tribal War' and 'The System'. During the first half of the eighties they were constantly on stage. They did shows with John Holt, Yellowman, Ras Michael, Ini Kamoze and Steel Pulse. In 1983 and 1984 they released two full length albums, which were critically acclaimed by the press.

The 1983 album 'Black Roots-Black Roots' which appeared on the Kick label makes the bulk of this excellent cd compilation, while the 1984 LP 'The Frontline' takes up the rest of the tracks. The sound of the band reminds us of Steel Pulse, Pablo Gad, Pablo Moses, Misty in Roots and Burning Spear, which is definitely a compliment! The album is filled with one drop riddims with a heavy drum bass led sound, that underpins the excellent vocals. Almost frightening is the tune Juvenile Delinquent, while the next song Africa has a more meditative atmosphere. The same goes for Far Over. On the other hand we hear optimism on The Opportunity. One of the top tunes here is Blackheart Man a wailing song inna a wicked dubbed up extended mix. Be sure to spin Tribal War a song dealing with tribalism all over the world.

Essential historical stuff, not to be missed.