Bristol Archive Records Blog

Album Review

Various Artists: The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983

A CD that without any apparent effort gives a party and a documentary in the same 74 mins of music. It doesn’t matter that the title years don’t spread evenly over the 14 tracks (just the two Joshua Moses numbers from 1978 & 79 and the rest are 1980-83). Roots reggae predominates and some lovers’ rock keeps the mood sweet in a range of material opening with Black Roots‘s mellow and informative ‘Bristol Rock’ and moving through quintessential examples from Joshua Moses, Talisman, and Restriction. Eight bands and artists are represented, by up to three examples of their work and all are intimately familiar with the ways of reggae music smoking round your brain and tweaking down your backbone. The second half of the album brings in some less mainstream types such as the distinctly Bowie-like ‘Nights of Passion’ by The Radicals ; and Sharon Bengamin’s ‘Mr Guy’ – both capable of making a mark outside the reggae scene ; and the brief, effective 2 min 43 ‘Riot’ from 3-D Production. Other notable pleasures include the upliftingly beautiful keyboard that takes us in and out of Black Roots‘s ‘Tribal War’, the ska warmth of Buggs Durrant’s ‘Baby Come Home’ and the concluding 12 inch mix of Talisman’s’ ‘Dole Age’. Almost everything here is available for the first time since its own era ; and as well as showing how worthy Bristol Reggae is of renewed and wider attention, it tells today’s guitar-soaked public how much we owe to the brass section as trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn and trombone conjure rich Jamaican sound out of thin English air.
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