Bristol Archive Records Blog

Forget Banksy, Brooksy gets ready to paint Bristol red (and gold, green and black)

Do you know, it’s been a fascinating journey and probably the first time I’ve ever looked at the musical scene from one particular area and watched the styles and type of music change in relation to what’s happening both culturally and socially, from an outsider’s viewpoint so to speak, not being part of it, not being led, but forming my own opinions (granted in retrospective), something all of us at Uber Rock believe in passionately.

The first album of this trio of long-lost releases from Bristol Archive records is ‘The Bristol Reggae Explosion 3 – The ’80s Part 2′, like its predecessors, a stunning piece of work for all reggae aficionados, roots reggae at its very best. Some of the bands I’ve reviewed previously – Talisman, Joshua Moses and the Revelation Rockers – all supplying some classic cuts that yet again beg the question, why didn’t they break out further and stand alongside some of the UK more recognisably class acts such as Burning Spear and Aswad, moving out of their community and into the mainstream awareness?

But this LP has also introduced me to others such as Cool Runnings, The Radicals, Vibes, all on a par with anything I have heard previously but, stand out track on this one for me is by a guy called Alfred McIntosh, a stunning dub track called ‘Pain’. I can’t recommend this LP enough for anyone with a passing interest in the genre, or even just an open mind!!!!

Moving on to Joshua Moses – ‘Joshua To Jashwa’ and, being a solo artist, you tend to wonder how they get their ideas across to the band, and what and where is that band formed from: with the culture so vibrant at the time in Bristol finding like-minded musicians to express them must have been a lot easier than it is now, I just wish I’d attended some of the St Pauls Carnivals in the early ’80s!!!!

So, on to the music: as is the want with Bristol Archive Records a mixture of rarities and never before put together and released as one. This LP though has a more dub-centric feel with dub versions of ‘The Suffering’ and ‘Rise Up’ sitting alongside the originals, dub being one of the driving forces for some of the more modern Bristol artists such as Roni Size, Massive Attack and Portishead giving birth to their own genre in turn at a point in the future, Trip Hop. This is a powerful album; it lulls you in then you start listening to the lyrics and realise how shaped the music is by the culture and the society that is shaping it. Standouts for me this time are ‘Distant Guns’, Children of the Light’ and ‘The Suffering’. Again, highly recommended.

Finally on to the last of the three releases here, Smith and Mighty – ‘The Three Stripe Collection 1985-1990′, and you see a distinct change: this isn’t reggae, this is music that has been influenced by the rave generation of the time; you see the music change from the influences of dub, bringing in the American influence of techno, hard house, acid house, music driven by the influence of the club, designed to enhance an altered state of mind through various substances. Music of the moment but, to me, without any longevity, music that fades outside the club environment. This to me is music that has lost a musical soul, it’s not musician-led but programmed, looped and repeated by the new gods of the time (’80s/’90s) producers and DJs!!!

Why is this reviewed here, you might ask yourself? A rhetoric answer would be The Prodigy and Chase and Status first and second on the bill at Download 2012!! Whatever you feel about it, it’s happening. Listening to this you can pick out where the embryonic Prodigy first started to appeal – anyone remember ‘Charly’? But you can also see where Ronnie Size, Gary Clail et al started to mutate their sound from as well as seeing how the music would be transformed by both Massive Attack and Portishead.

As a rock fan I hate the sort of music on this disc, but as a music fan I can only look back and see how many bands it has influenced so some kudos must be given.

Roll on the next Bristol Archive Records release: keep up the good work, what a journey through Bristol’s history.

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