Bristol Archive Records Blog

Archive for September, 2011

Smith & Mighty

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

We are thrilled to confirm that the legendary Bristol group Smith & Mighty have joined the Archive.

We will release an album of the entire 3Stripe Records catalogue in the spring Double LP and CD

Can’t wait!

Talisman Live Review supporting Toots

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Whatever next? Reggae gig reviews on Uber Rock? How do I start to drag some of you readers in to give it a go, and maybe just maybe get you guys and gals to give these bands a listen?

I’m not afraid to stand up and say I like reggae, not the fare pedalled by bands like UB40 always set up for commercial cross-over, but real roots reggae. Like all the best forms of music this stuff is written from the heart, performed with belief and guaranteed to provoke a reaction from the audience, be it to dance, to fight or just to partner up later.

“So where’s this pre-amble going” I hear you cry? Well while there are two bands playing here tonight, you couldn’t have two more different sounds. On the one hand one was born on the streets of Bristol, coming out of the St Paul’s area at the same time as bands like Vice Squad and the Cortinas, playing politically savvy music and rearing up against a Thatcherite Britain attempting to squash the Bristol sound and their culture. So it seems rather appropriate that the reformed Talisman have come back when their music if anything has never sounded so relevant and times are slowly slinking back to those bully boy right wing dark days. You know after seeing them live tonight I can now fully understand why the Clash recorded ‘Sandinista’, and why Talisman supported them on that album’s tour, it just all fits perfectly.

Then on the other half of the bill you have a sound born on the streets of Kingston Jamaica, reflecting the vibrancy and culture of the late 60′s/early 70′s on the island, Toots and the Maytals were the inventors of Reggae (fact they were the first band to use the word reggae in a song in 1969). And as I was saying same music two different sounds, but for aficionados of rock, because this is a rock website after all, Toots and the Maytals were also championed by The Who and supported them on their 1975-’76 American tour. So when you questions “does this music belong on a rock website?” you have a hell of a lot of support for the “yes” argument from some real heavyweights of rock.

So, what were they both like live? Well the youngest Uber-rocker on the block Lewis B is now a confirmed Reggae fan, as he’s over the barriers tonight shaking hands with Toots and getting really excited about what he’s discovered here!! It will, and I can categorically state this, be one of my gigs of the year, that’s how good both these bands were live.

Opening with ‘Nitty Gritty’ Talisman set the tone perfectly, followed with tracks like ‘Run Come Girl’, ‘Free Speech’, ‘Nothing Change’, ‘Words Of Wisdom’ and ‘Ah Wah U Say’, they simply burned, and my only complaint was the set was far too short! But I intend to rectify this as Talisman are also headlining the Fleece on the 23rd December, now that has got to be a goer.

To the headliner then and it’s not often you see a living legend, someone who through their set changed completely my view of what reggae could sound like, and if anything at times Toots and his gang went down the route of free form funk work-outs more in line with George Clinton than Bob Marley. ‘Pressure Drop’ yeah the track that was covered by amongst others The Clash, Izzy Stradlin’ and the JuJu Hounds and The Oppressed (more of the rock pedigree) was immense, (point of fact, they even recorded an LP with reworks of their own songs with amongst others, Keith Richards and Bonnie Raitt, which is lying somewhere in my collection, I must dig it out).

Third track in and my ears are pinned back by a stunning version of ‘Louie Louie’ and tracks like ‘Reggae Got Soul’, ‘Funky Kingston’ and the other cover ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ had me smiling and dancing instead of getting my reviewing thoughts in order, but what the hell we’re here to enjoy ourselves right?

So back to my opening question “does Reggae belong on a rock website?” well through the last 30 years or so there’s been some serious rock royalty that certainly thinks so, so why not pin your ears back get out there and experiment a little.

The Reviews start coming

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 2: The 1980s

Finally the follow up to the first class album The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983 (read my raving review about it)!
As the title suggests, the album focuses on a later period of British, or rather Bristolian Reggae. And already the first tune, “Rise Up” by Joshua Moses is a bad, bad tune. Killer Roots Reggae as it is hardly ever played today. Astonishingly, the tune is previously unreleased. But if it had been cut on vinyl back in the days, you had to spend serious money on this “Rare killer Shaka soundman’s choice” on eBay today fe true. “Rise Up” was engineered and produced by Scientist. No, not the Jamaican Scientist, but Bristol Reggae legend Richard Grassby-Lewis. You can hear other productions of him on BRE 1978-83 or on the Black Roots album on Bristol Archive Records.
Other favourites are “Peacemaker” by Dennis McCalla, “Re-Arrange Version” by 3-D Production, “Way Out West” by Zapp Stereo, and “Twelve Tribes” by The Zion Band. But there is a lot more moody, heavy and bassy early 80s Roots and Dub Reggae to discover. All in all, this album is even better than the first, and I say this as a lover of mainly 60s and 70s Reggae. Whether you’re a Rude Boy or a Skinhead, if you have any interest in Roots or Dub or consider developing some, give this a try. Soon, this album will be legen -wait for it- dary. Legendary.

Whereas The Bristol Reggae Explosion 2 will be released soon, the Black Roots’ singles anthology has been released on September 5th. You can listen here why you need it, too. Alternatively, wait for the forthcoming explanation why you need it on this blog.

Great New T Shirts

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Just a mail to let you know I’ve opened an online shop selling vintage rock n’ roll t-shirts which I have designed.

They look very cool printed and make great presents! To have a look visit

Could you be kind enough to forward my link to any friends/bands/organisations who may be interested?


John McLean

Black Roots September 9th 2011

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011


Monday, September 5th, 2011

Loads of new Digital releases go live today – check them out

Don’t forget The Black Roots Reggae Singles Anthology is released today on Vinyl and CD

Reggae Explosion 2 The 80′s released October 17th

Talisman Shows

Monday, September 5th, 2011

16th Dec – WAMA, High Wycombe

23rd Dec – Fleece, Bristol

Black Roots Shows

Monday, September 5th, 2011

15th – WAMA, High Wycombe

18th – Under The Bridge, Chelsea, London

4th – Phoenix, Exeter

Reggae Explosion 2 The 80′s Review

Friday, September 2nd, 2011