One of the best reggae bands from the 1980s, BLACK ROOTS, performed on home turf on Saturday night (10 November) with an official album launch gig in St Pauls.
The Malcolm X Centre show was the band’s chance to translate their new record On The Ground to the stage and prove their relevance in a much-changed musical landscape since their inception in 1979.
The result on the night was… success.
The reinvigorated roots reggae group recently dropped their first studio recording for more than 20 years and fittingly played pretty much every track off the new album interspersed with occasional older material.
Classic tracks on the night such as “The Father” and “Tribal War” fitted in well with new material including recent double A 12” “Pompous Way” adding a continuing social commentary, and “Oh Mama Africa” – an upbeat song celebrating Africa. Here it is live:
With 11 musicians on stage, including six members of the original line-up (Carlton Smith, Errol Brown, Kondwani Ngozi, Jabulani Ngozi, Cordell Francis and Charlie), the sound was not muddied or overcomplicated but rather added depth and layers of instrumentation to recreate the sound of the new record.
The newer members of the band, including a skilled horn section and a suitably tight rhythm section, also showcased their skills and place among the original musicians in the group.
Here’s the Bristol band performing new track “Landscape” from On The Ground:
Here’s “Militancy”, which could have easily come from the group’s first incarnation:
Overall BLACK ROOTS were back in their classic roots groove and seemed to keep existing fans happy while appealing to a new younger generation.
The new record On The Ground (out on Sugar Shack Records) is available on LP, CD and digital download from the usual outlets including Amazon, iTunes and the Bristol Archive Records online shop.
Nubian Records has also put together the following “reggaementry”, filmed during the recording of On The Ground, and including exclusive interviews with BLACK ROOTS original members.