The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983
Bristol Archive Records
April 2, 2011
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 4/5|
Last century Bristol had one of the largest Jamaican communities in the UK. The immigrants brought their music with them and soon they started to form soundsystems and organize 'blues' parties. At first the immigrants settled in the St. Paul's area of Bristol with main soundsystems being Tarzan, Trojan, Jah Revelation and High Priest. Soon the first artists started recording tunes, most of them being firm roots reggae songs.
The major record companies completely ignored that outburst of talent and it was left to the bands themselves and the handful of indie labels to spread the music. Working on tight budgets and with no money for marketing campaigns local bands managed to release a small, but steady flow of vinyl, mostly pressed in tiny quantities and often sold direct to fans at gigs, these records, although cherished by those who own them, and sought by those in the know, have been largely ignored by the wider music industry.
More than three decades later Bristol Archive Records, a label with a mission to share that great musical heritage with the world puts out a more than decent compilation set "The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983". It is the first attempt to document the local Bristol reggae scene from the late seventies until the early eighties. With the exception of the Black Roots tracks none of the recordings have ever been reissued and all were originally released before CD had been launched, so this is their debut in the digital format.
The selection illustrates the roots reggae dominance of those days. The best known band here is Black Roots. The band 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 (a song dealing with tribalism all over the world) 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. Almost frightening is their tune Juvenile Delinquent.
A true roots classic and highlight of this release is the inclusion of the ultra rare Africa Is Our land from Joshua Moses. His Pretty Girl is equally strong (check the syndrums!) as he focuses on the more romantic issues of life! The album brings us two fine live tracks by Talisman. First there's the song Run Come Girl and next comes Wicked Dem. Talisman also closes the album with a nice 12" mix of Dole Age. The Mad Professor mixed and engineered the dubbed up deejay tune Four Point Plan by Restriction. They only released one four track twelve inch in 1983. Noteworthy is 3d's drum and bass driven Riot, while Buggs Durrant delivers a sweet and mellow lovers tune called Baby Come Back, still sounding fresh after all these years. The same goes for the sweet voiced Sharon Benjamin with her tune Mr. Guy.
"The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983" will be released as a fourteen track CD, but there will be a very limited vinyl pressing featuring an eight track selection and just to keep things local the sleeve art is a mid-eighties carnival shot from Bristolís own Beezer, featuring a classic image of Jah Revelation sound-system.
This album is food for all serious reggae fans, check it out as it shines a light on a too long neglected corner of the UK reggae landscape.