Black Symbol Present The Complete Handsworth Explosion
Reggae Archive Records
CD / Digital Release
August 14, 2015

Track list
  1. Sceptre - Ancestors Calling
  2. Truth & Rights - New Language
  3. Black Symbol - Travelling
  4. Gerald Love - Jah Children
  5. Benjamin Zephaniah - Music Business
  6. Truth & Rights - Saddest Moment
  7. Black Symbol - Spiritual Reggae
  8. Gerald Love - Scandal Man
  9. Sceptre - Living On Strong
  10. Benjamin Zephaniah - Free Man
  11. Benjamin Zephaniah - Stop The War
  12. Man From The Hills - Redemption Day
  13. Mystic Foundation - Life In The Ghetto
  14. Black Symbol - Feeling Is Irie
  15. Black Knight - Let's Make Up
  16. Black Symbol - Trouble Trouble
  17. Benjamin Zephaniah - Unite Handsworth
  18. Man From The Hills - How Long
  19. Mystic Foundation - Handsworth
  20. Black Knight - Feeling
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Vocals : 4 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
In 2014, much to the delight of many fans of classic UK produced roots reggae music, Bristol based reissue label Reggae Archive Records released two much sought-after albums on vinyl LP: "Black Symbol Presents Handsworth Explosion" and "Black Symbol present Handsworth Explosion II". And now there's a combined CD release of both volumes entitled "Black Symbol Presents The Complete Handsworth Explosion".

This collection features 20 tunes that emerged in the early '80s from Birmingham's Handsworth region, known by many reggae aficionados as the birthplace of roots reggae legends Steel Pulse. It was Fatman, the producer, lead vocalist and founder member of Black Symbol, who originated the idea of providing artists from Handsworth's local roots reggae scene with studio time at his well equipped Outlaw Studio. Many of the finished results appeared on the two original vinyl LPs, but due to Black Symbol facing an uphill struggle to get their albums distributed only few people who lived outside Birmingham or near a specialist reggae shop ever got the chance to buy a copy. Thanks to the good people of Reggae Archive Records, these albums are finally available for everyone.

Besides tracks from Sceptre, Benjamin Zephaniah and Black Symbol, this crucial compilation features singular recordings from artists such as Truth & Rights, Gerald Love, Man From The Hills, Mystic Foundation and Black Knight, who didn't manage to attract notable attention and then disappeared into obscurity. A few tracks including Sceptre's solid "Ancestors Calling", Benjamin Zephaniah's excellent "Free Man" and "Unite Handsworth", Man From The Hills' "Redemption Day", previously appeared on the highly recommendable compilation "The Midlands Roots Explosion Volume One", while Black Symbol's "Trouble Trouble", "Spiritual Reggae" and the scorcher "Travelling" were included on their earlier this year released self-titled cd. However most of the material gathered here hasn't been released on CD before. Gems such as Gene Love's "Jah Children", Benjamin Zephaniah's "Music Business", Mystic Foundation's "Life In The Ghetto" and "Handsworth", Sceptre's "Living On Strong" and Black Knights' "Feeling" are definitely worth a listen as is Truths & Rights' "New Language", a wicked deejay tune that could have been recorded in Jamaica with the Roots Radics during the early dancehall days.

The music featured on this collection is full of consciousness and vibes. Do check it!