Bristol Archive Records Blog

United Reggae Magazine

May 10th, 2012

Lots of news on Bristol Archive Reggae releases in the latest edition of the brilliant magazine

Link here:

Out Monday May 7th – Black Roots

May 5th, 2012

Black Roots

All Day AII Night (Deluxe Edition)

Bristol Archives CD/DL


Recorded for the Nubian label in 1985,

Black Roots recruited Neal Fraser, The Mad

Professor, for mix duties and the trombonist

Vin Gordon for authentic brass weight. The

result of this more professional approach

was a cleaner, punchier sound, less rootsy

than previous work – an inexplicable move,

as those earlier tunes had generated BBC

sessions and a commission for the theme

music for the TV sitcon The Front Line. lt’s

mostly conscious tunes all the way, and

so magisterial is the 12″ cut to “Pin ln The

0cean” that it’s difficult for anything to

match it, although the “Face Dub” (the flute

and trombone version to “Seeing Your Face”)

is as good as anything to be found on Mad

Prof’s Dub Me Crazy series. Black Roots are

currently working on a new album.


The Columns I Soundcheck I trrewire | 0r

Beginnings of the Bristol Beat

May 1st, 2012

Gil Gillespie traces the city’s modern music back to its roots 30 years ago…

If there was any kind of music scene in Bristol before 1977, his name was Russ Conway and he liked to play piano. In fact, it wasn’t until the jagged edges of new wave began to cut the shock tactics out of the punk movement that the first serious local bands began to emerge from their Clifton and Redland hideaways. So we’ll make 1977 our starting point for a tour of the Bristol music scene.

First out of the blocks were The Cortinas, four sneering teenagers in torn blazers not long out of grammar school sixth form. Fittingly, their feisty and dangerously energetic double A-sided single ‘Fascist Dictator/Television Families’ set the standard that others would have to follow. And sure enough, by the middle of 1979, hundreds of nervy young punk bands were popping up all over town. A fanzine called Loaded sprang up in support like a regional Sniffin’ Glue. Suddenly, there were six or seven live venues with the Guildhall Tavern in Broad Street at the epicentre of the punk scene. Then Heartbeat Records released the Social Security EP which featured four irreverent dum-dum bullets, including the immortal I’m Addicted to Cider.

Bristol was up and running as a music town. The fledgling label followed its debut release with another excellent single, The Europeans, by The Europeans. The Europeans became the first but certainly not the last Bristol band to be linked with a major record deal that never quite came off. The likes of the Pigs, the X-Certs, Joe Public and the Numbers all followed. Aggressive, confrontational upstarts all.

But from here on in, the sound of young Bristol splintered in several different directions. There was the wheel-spinning R&B in the shape of 14-year-old rebel-rousers the Untouchables. There were experimental types such as Art Objects, Glaxo Babies and Essential Pop. Black Roots introduced the dub influence while Shoes For Industry volunteered to be ringmaster for weird circus rock and confirmed their status by getting the lead singer to wear an inside-out brain on his head. And most controversially of all, Melanie, the daughter of Bristol City manager ‘Alan-Alan-Alan’ Dicks did a puty Wendy James type of thing for a band called Double Vision. Ashton Court Festival became a canvass for the city’s eclectic range of characters. The Wurzels were not welcome.

But lording it over this newly built sonic kingdom were the mightiest of all the pre-Nineties Bristolian hollerers, the Pop Group. How good were the Pop Group? Well, when Nick Cave and his growling Birthday Party entourage first landed on these shores in 1980, they spent every night going to gigs all over the capital but were shocked and disappointed by the limp, bloodless bands they found. Then one night he saw the Pop Group. The experience changed his life. As part of Channel 4′s Music of the Millennium series, Cave chose We Are All Prostitutes as his favourite piece of music of all time. “The beginning of the record is the greatest start of any record, ever,” claims the awesome Aussie. And you wouldn’t want to disagree with him.

This is why it’s the Pop Group who are cited as being the biggest influence on what became known as the Bristol Sound. Even if it’s not all that easy to see why or how, they laid the foundations for Massive Attack. The Pop Group, y’see, made a fearsome chaotic noise that was always experimental and sometimes unlistenable. Their first single, She is Beyond Good and Evil, might have been as infectious as it was deeply disturbing, but much of the Y album sounded like a load of out-of-time clanging and primeval hollering, interrupted by the occasional blast of raucous feedback. These elements burned on a fire already white hot with punk, funk and thunderous dub to make a protest music completely out on its own.

So what does all this have to do with the birth of the Wild Bunch and everything that followed them? Crucially, Mark Stewart’s unholy Pop Group crew were the first to assimilate the city’s black, or more accurately, Rasta counter-culture into their social life, their worldview, and ultimately their sound. Back then music allowed you to define your enemies more clearly. “With the roots worldview…the feeling of spiritual uplift was undeniable,” says singer Stewart of his dub days. As if this wasn’t significant enough, the band also spent their youth going to clubs and listening to dance beats. “We were like the Bristol funk army,” recalls Stewart. “We’d go to clubs and dance to records by T-Connection, BT Express, Fatback Band, all this heavy bassline funk.”

This is how the Pop Group invented the politics of dancing. It was a warped, out-of-shape boogie, but a boogie none the less. “They even used to dance in the most peculiar way,” remembers one fan. Sadly, by the time they’d made their third album For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? all the incendiary radicalism had got out of control. Maybe it’s best to let the band explain. “We were creating a wall of noise for the lyrics to fight against,” sighs drummer Dan Katsis. “We were challenging the production process, disrespecting the machines.”

Something, inevitably, had to give, and the six members went their separate ways. Gareth Singer formed the distinctly patchy Rip Rig and Panic, bassist Simon Underwood sought relief in the happy honking of jazz-funkers Pigbag and had a top 20 hit, and Mark Stewart sank still deeper into the well of nihilistic creativity in which he had always prospered.

They were only around for two years or so but the Pop Group cast one hell of a long shadow. There were a lot of bands who found themselves permanently stuck in the shade. Performance art, free festival politics, second-hand clothes, a vibrant live scene and copious amounts of free drugs all played their part in a shift towards an artier and more offbeat order. If you can track down any copies of the compilation albums Avon Calling, Fried Egg-Bristol 1979-1981, Wavelength/Bristol Recorder 1979-1980, or Western Stars Vol 1-The Bands That Built Bristol (now on Sugar you can hear for yourself. It’s from this increasingly bohemian atmosphere that Gerard Landley’s first band the Art Objects sprang.

What we didn’t know then is that Bristol was about to rewind to a second year zero. This time it began down amoung the funk jams and scratched beats of the St. Paul’s cafe sound system scene. With the fragments of post-punk scattered all over the place and pulsing electronic dub everywhere, something truly remarkable began to bubble to the surface.The Slits made an unlikely union with Dennis Bovell, the Clash raised swords with Mikey Dread, and the Specials united black and white to fight against anyone who wanted to make something of it. Bristol had reggae collectives Talisman, Black Roots and Restriction. At the Dug out on Park Row, DJs were lining up Chaka Khan against Superfly Soul as the first blasts of urban hip-hop began to filter from across the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, somewhere around town, Robert Del Naja was getting arrested for decorating walls with a spraycan. Soon he joined Nellee Hooper, Daddy G and Milo Johnson in a hip-hop collective called the Wild Bunch. That same year, St. Paul’s Carnival played host to a number of heavily-amped crews such as 3 Stripe Posse, 2Bad, City Rockers, UD4 and FBI Crew. But bigger and bolder than the rest were the Wild Bunch, who blocked off Campbell Street with their colossal, towering bass bins. The band’s reputation spread by word of mouth and they were invited to play at London’s Titanic Club. Then they set up residency on Wednesday nights at the Dugout, spinning 12 inches, rapping over the top, heads nodding eerily in time.

Hindsight has given the Wild Bunch a legendary status in modern music folklore. But Milo’s retrospective album, Story of a Soundsystem, suggested this is as much myth as reality. It’s party music, full of sax burps, cheesy disco jangles and it is very much of its time. Robert Del Naja puts his own perspective on the Wild Bunch. “People always ask us about the Wild Bunch,” he says.”But the truth is it’s just history to us now. I don’t know why people go on about it so much.”

No, the first truly staggering thing the Wild Bunch ever did was to become Massive Attack. And the first thing Massive Attack ever did was to take a giant leap ahead of anything else that had ever come before. Daydreaming is one of the most startlingly original and self-assured debut singles ever made. Even now it sounds as fresh and as relevant as it did back in the early Nineties. And there was so much more to come.

From its majestic opening line-’Midnight rockers, city slickers, gun men and maniacs’- it was obvious the Blue Lines album was going to be a classic. Three hit singles-Daydreaming, Safe From Harm and Unfinished Sympathy- propelled the band right across the globe. At the same time, they redefined what dance music could be. As 3D put it at the time : “We’re not just interested in making something for people to throw their arms and legs about to on a dancefloor.”

Everything had changed. Suddenly, Bristol was being talked about as the ‘coolest city on the planet’. Then someone, somewhere in the media, labelled the sound ‘trip-hop’ – a supposedly softer, near-ambient version of hip-hop unique to the South West. Apparently. And within minutes, the city was overrun by gangs of A&R clowns frantically searching for the next Bristol Sound sure things. Not only was the local music mafia not talking, they were also trying to get as far away from the term as possible.

This is an extract from the music chapter in The Naked Guide to Bristol by Gil Gillespie, published by Naked Guides Ltd, ISBN 9780954417765

ST.Pauls Carnival cancellation saddens founder

April 30th, 2012


 By Alex Cater


One of the last surviving founders of the festival that evolved into the St Paul’s Carnival has spoken out about the state of the event in the wake of this year’s cancellation.


Community activist Roy Hackett, who is now 84, was among a small group that launched the festival in 1968 and while his active involvement ended 11 years later, he has kept closely in touch with this key event in the Bristol calendar.


It was due to take place on 7 July but after a cash shortfall, organisers announced in February that it would be scaled back, and at the end of April said it would be cancelled, citing funding and crowd safety concerns.


Hackett criticised a lack of transparency in the organisers’ dealings with the public. “They seem to have a closed door policy. It’s only when the money ran out that we heard how much they had got and how much they had spent.”


He is concerned that the event was successfully run without subsidy for many years but now seems unable to function without costly financial support.


Hackett said: “We ran it for 11 years without this council or any council, ever putting any money in. So when they are talking about how this carnival hasn’t got any money, I want to know why.”


He added that after decades when the event ran fairly smoothly, a rising tide of problems seem to have occurred only in recent times: “It has been cancelled three times in its whole history, but in the last 10 years it has been stopped twice.”


Hackett fears that between the money worries blamed for the latest cancellation and other problems of the past few years, the St Paul’s Carnival may have lost it way.


He is scathing about the use of external advisors – “A consultant to tell you how to run a community event?”– and people being paid when carnival should be community-owned and community driven to stay closer to its roots.


“The festival was never a business. It was a community event. The event involved everybody that was living in the community. Everybody did their little bit. We went with caps in hand, begging pennies, and half a crown. If you give five shillings, that is a whole lot of money.


“People always asked me: ‘Do you get big pay?’ I say: ‘For what?’ I’ve never charged anyone for what I do because I don’t need to; I have a job, I have my wife, I have my family.”


Hackett was interviewed as part of Bristol Archive Record’s ongoing oral history of the city. An individual who is almost an institution in Bristol and St Paul’s, he arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 1952 at the age of 24.


A career in construction took him all over the country, with spells building the Hinkley Point nuclear power station on Somerset’s coast and even working alongside Welsh star and The Voice coach Sir Tom Jones: “He was always singing.”


After settling in Bristol, Hackett became engaged in community activities, including anti-racist protests.


He was strongly involved in Bristol’s bus boycott in 1963, called in protest at the failure to hire black staff for the city’s transport company, which led within weeks to the lifting of the so-called “colour bar”.


Hackett said his role in creating the annual celebration that became carnival came from his habit of attending meetings and joining committees.


As he puts it, some people preach, others enjoy gambling, but he “fell into sitting in on associations and committees”. Even today, in his eighties, “I go to the meetings because I am a nosey person, because I want to know what’s going on.”


Carnival is seen as something strongly derived from Caribbean culture, in particular Jamaica, and Hackett’s childhood memories are of Christmas celebrations: “We don’t have anything back home on as big a scale as the St Paul’s Carnival. In Jamaica, the carnivals move from parish to parish.


“I lived in the countryside in Jamaica until I was 16. There, carnivals are part of the Christmas amusement; everybody dresses up as a god or a devil and has their own role in the carnival. Each year we looked forward to it and it would go right on through to New Year’s Day.”


Hackett is saddened that the St Paul’s Carnival he helped launch has hit so many problems when the original ideals of 1968 were very simple.


“At the very beginning we just wanted to do something to say thank you to our community. I thought it was a good idea because everybody could have a part in it. The old people could watch from their doorways and the children would have smiles on their faces and shout, ‘Mum, look here, Look here.’  That brings joy.”


Bristol Archive Records:


© Alex Cater 2012

The Strummer Of Love Festival Line -Up Announced

April 18th, 2012

Joshua (Jashwha) Moses and Talisman both confirmed in the line up for 17/18/19 August 2012

Record Store Day 2012 – April 21st

April 3rd, 2012

Record Store Day came into being in 2007 when over 700 independent stores in the USA came together to celebrate their unique culture. The UK followed suit and 2012 will see the fourth celebration of the UK’s unique independent sector. This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists across the globe make special appearances and performances. Festivities include performances, meet & greets with artists, DJ’s, in store quizzes and many other events.

Bristol Archive/Sugar Shack Records participates with two Limited Edition Vinyl releases:

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983 (GREEN VINYL) – 500 pressing

AMJ Dub Collective – Sound History Vol 1 – 500 pressing

More info:

Ujima Radio to partner Bristol Archive Records

March 31st, 2012

Hot news: Ujima Radio (98 FM) has forged a partnership deal with Bristol Archive and Sugar Shack Records to promote its releases, the artists and their tunes to the world.

We start with our April releases which includes Joshua Moses, Black Roots, AMJ Dub Collective and Cool Runnings

More information and detail soon

Bristol Archive Records’ stunning journey:

March 24th, 2012

Bristol Archive Records came from seemingly nowhere when the label in early 2011 dropped the acclaimed compilation Bristol Reggae Explosion. This release has been followed by several hard to find roots reggae gems by Bristol-based artists. United Reggae got a chat with label owner Mike Darby to find out more about him and his many projects.


Meet Mike Darby, an independent financial advisor, golfer and married with two children. He’s also the owner, head of people relations, chief detective, finding new material, head of A&R and boss man at Bristol Archive Records and Sugar Shack Records. If that wasn’t enough, Mike Darby is also a Director at Archive Publishing.


He started his music career as a singer in 1979 with the reggae/two tone/ska band The Rimshots. The band put out a couple of singles and played with The Beat, The Bodysnatchers, Black Roots, Talisman and acclaimed dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Six years later he ventured into band management and launched Sugar Shack Records focusing on British rock artists. The label recently switched direction though, and from 2012 and onwards Sugar Shack will be putting out contemporary British reggae acts.


In music terms, Bristol is primarily known for the genre trip-hop and artists such as Tricky, Portishead and Massive Attack.The reggae scene has however also been thriving ever since the 70’s in different shapes and forms, and the main aim for Bristol Archive Records is to put many more or less unheard of reggae artists on the map and put the record straight.

For me it’s the untapped and unreleased gems that have fallen through the cracks of time,” explains Mike Darby, and continues:

“The expectation is minimal from the artists so its amazing seeing these people get a break some 25 or 30 years later, smiling, being proud and getting excited about roots music again.”


And the response on the releases so far seems to please Mike. And one word sums it up well.

“Amazing,” he states, and explains:

“I can’t believe the response from all around the world. The records sell, the artists have a second chance and we are one big happy Bristol family – taking on the world and spreading our sounds.”


Thanks to the success of Bristol Archive Records Mike has also changed direction of his other label – Sugar Shack Records. Its first reggae release is the 12” Sound History Volume 1 by AMJ Dub Collective, released on 23rd April 2012.


“The success of the Bristol Archive Records means that Black Roots, Talisman and now Joshua Moses are back out in force spreading their message via live performances. It just made sense to support them and their new material by having a record label that can work with them,” says Mike, and further explains the company’s direction:

“All things reggae from Bristol and the rest of the UK if we can discover the talent on our other label .”


Now back to the reissue business, and Mike’s recipe for finding new material to put out.

Word of mouth, referrals, putting out great looking records and being nice people.”

It sounds easy, but it probably also means a great deal of work to compile compilations with hard to find golden nuggets or unreleased gems, Mike pays special praise to his Reggae colleague Martin Langford aka Dubmart who compiles the track running orders and writes the amazing sleeve notes, plus Steve street who does most of the mastering.  


Jah Praises from Revelation Rockers is one of those gems. It was recorded in the late 70’s, but didn’t see the light of day until March 2012.

“Shocked, stunned, excited and motivated,” says Mike about his reaction when he heard about Jah Praises.


But this album is far from an exception in the increasing Bristol Archive catalogue, and the flagship compilations Bristol Reggae Explosion 1, 2 & 3 includes a great deal of unissued material. To me, it’s remarkable that a tune like Rise Up from Joshua Moses has been lying around in a drawer somewhere.

And happily enough Mike reveals that there are more to come.

“Joshua Moses’ Joshua to Jashwha 30 Years in the Wilderness is a must buy for any roots fan. It’s stunning.”



Taken from:



Jashwha Moses

March 24th, 2012

Joshua (Jashwha) Moses with The R.A.S Band booked as support to The Skatalites – Exeter Phoenix – May 19th

For further information go here:

Talisman Gigs Updated

March 24th, 2012

Thu 29 Mar – Exeter Phoenix (Supporting Selecter)

Sat 31 Mar - High Wycombe WAMA

Sun 27 May – Bristol Veg Fest

Sat 30 Jun – Diss WowFest (Norfolk)

Fri 20 Jul – Llangollen Fringe Wales

Sat 18 Aug – WOWfest, Isle of Wight

Sun 19 Aug – Strummerville (To Be Confirmed)

Sat 25 Aug – Plymouth Crocadon Sawmills