Bristol Archive Records are cementing themselves more and more as one of my favourite labels with each successive release and this one is simply ‘the dogs …!’ It just makes you want to turn up the volume, turn up the bass and turn down the windows of your house / car while you let this blare! (Funny how ‘force-sharing’ you music with others makes it even more exciting, eh?!)
BLACK ROOTS were Bristol’s leading exponents of reggae, releasing a steady stream of LPs and singles – mostly on their own Nubian label. The majority of these singles are now brought together on one single CD and a Limited Edition double vinyl album. Both formats include a sixteen-page booklet with previously unpublished photos, made available through the full cooperation of the Nubian label.
The Anthology, as you would naturally expect chronicles the band’s releases from their creative peak of the 1980s and what appeals to me is that the tracks are in the main listed in chronological order which lets the listener hear how the band’s sound progressed over the years.
And there is indeed a difference between the opening track ‘Bristol Rock,’ which was released in 1981 and the closing number ‘Start Afresh,’ from seven years later, which carries the more commercial sound of reggae as it began to morph into the popular Dancehall and Ragga styles of that time. This track in particular has the most infectious groove going on. If your body ain’t bending and bouncing to this one, then you’re probably dead.
There is such a strong selection of songs (sixteen in all, spanning some eighty minutes or so) with absolutely no ‘duffers’ at all! And it’s really good to hear the band’s versatility within the overall reggae genre as they incorporate a healthy amount of ‘dub’ into their songs, while also showing a more ‘sensitive’ side as they turn their hand towards the more Lovers Rock side of things on ‘Seeing Your Face,’ and ‘Suzy Wong.’
Of course they don’t stray from the traditional roots of reggae with old-school vibes and references to ‘struggle,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘Babylon,’ ‘Jah’ et al. Attention to social comment is not ignored with the likes of ‘Juvenile Delinquent,’ and there is also the more commercially acceptable side of reggae on the likes of ‘The Father.’
You wanna dance? Slap on ‘Pin In The Ocean, ’ and just see if your feet don’t move!
But for me, it’s the Dub that does it. So here’s the full 12” version of ‘Chanting For Freedom’ for you.
Chill and enjoy!
(Released through Bristol Archive Records on 5th September 2011)
(10 / 10)
**BLACK ROOTS reformed last year and with loads of gigs planned, they are set to make Reggae popular once again.**