Bristol Archive Records Blog

Dutch Reggae Fair supports Bristol Archive Records

December 31st, 2013

Many of our vinyl releases will be featured at this Record Fair. If you are in Holland take a look:


Recordfair Apeldoorn

Dok Zuid

5 january 10-16h

The Boys Are Back In Town

December 31st, 2013


The Best of Heartbeat Records – Vive le Rock album review

December 28th, 2013

The Best of Heartbeat Records Vive le Rock album review

Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the team atwww.reggaearchiverecords.comwww.bristolarchiverecords.comand Thanks for supporting our labels and loads of fantastic new releases coming in the New Year.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

The Spasmodics Return

December 20th, 2013

A successful reunion last week at The Fleece for The Spasmodics – you can check them out here:

Pic by Garreth Johnson


Spotlight on Bristol Archive Records

December 12th, 2013


There’s nothing better than discovering new music. I thrive off it, it’s why I do what I do. And when I say “new” I don’t necessarily mean the latest, just released, new sound, etc., but rather something I like that I’ve never heard before — that could be early American Roots music or some brand new ground-breaking experimentations. I therefore perhaps spend longer than I should trying to listen to all the music falling under my remit as a client manager here at The Orchard. And something that kept catching my attention were releases on a little known record label dealing in Bristol Post Punk and Reggae called Bristol Archive.

When you think about British musical heritage, most people tend to bang on about London (The Clash, Sex Pistols, yawn) or Manchester (Hacienda, Factory Records, Stone Roses, falling asleep). All true of course, two incredible hubs for some of greatest music the world has ever heard. But when I think about it, Bristol was a massive musical and cultural influence on me growing up — Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead, Roni Size and Reprazent, and the best Graf scene in the UK. But I don’t really know what came before it. There are always reference points of course and discovering Bristol Archive has begun filling in the gaps. Take the Reggae roots sounds of Black Roots “Bristol Rock“ (1981) and onto to the more Digi-Soul vibes of Smith & Mighty’s version of “Walk On By“ (1985) and you have a clear back drop for Massive Attack. I caught up with label owner Mike Darby to find out more.

Can you give me a brief overview of Bristol Archive and how it came to be?
Bristol Archive Records is a record label dealing in Bristol Post Punk and Reggae 1977 onwards. We aim to showcase music from the diverse Bristol Music scene and provide a historical account/document of all things Bristol that should never be forgotten. Many of the artists and releases are rare, unknown or never before released. The material has been lovingly digitally remastered from vinyl, ¼ inch tape, dat or cassette. The original vinyl releases would generally have been limited to runs of 1000 copies or less.

We would like to thank the original label owners and/or the artists for allowing us to share with you their forgotten works and provide a statement of how brilliant bands have always been from the city of Bristol and the surrounding areas. Enjoy and never forget the talented ones from the past, they deserve to be recognised and remembered. We now have two sister labels Reggae Archive and Sugar Shack.

It certainly seems Bristol had a thriving music scene from the mid-70s onwards. Can you tell me a bit more about that and how it went on to influence the next generation of musicians from Bristol?
Bristol is a very nice place to live. The student population is large and always has been which means a large percentage of visitors stay and find work. Throughout the 70s and right up until today it’s been a forgotten back water, a slow independent city (some might say the dope makes its slow, others the bohemian suburbs — Montpelier, St Werburghs, Redland and then of course the historically Jamaican areas St.Pauls and Easton). The bottom line in my humble opinion is that yes, a thriving scene but very fractured, lazy and never one to follow London but almost ‘fuck London.’ Bands have always tended to form, demo and then split up (the classic we-should-have-a-record-deal-no-point-carrying-on-then syndrome). The individuals then immediately pop up again in different line ups, with maybe different styles, lots of people playing in two or three bands (this was certainly the case in the Post Punk years). Bristol bands never toured on the independent scene until Hardcore arrived. Bristol has never had a huge Rock band —Onslaught could well be the biggest.

During Post Punk, lots of the top musicians moved to London to try and make it — most got record deals (which is interesting because they would never have been signed if they had stayed in Bristol). Most of these people have now moved back. Back home to that slow vibe, that Bristol thing, that Bass line, and so Punk moved to Post Punk through Reggae and then Smith & Mighty arrived. Bang! Bass culture, whilst always here, was the underground platform for the next generation — sound systems — warehouse parties — The Blues — The Wild Bunch get signed — LONDON comes to Bristol! Massive Attack evolve through the Wild Bunch. Tricky, Smith & Mighty get signed — but still not following London. London invented the term Trip Hop — bullshit, Bass Culture Bristol Style. Portishead and then Roni Size get signed. The Pop Group are still the kings but they are long gone, all the members joining and leaving other highly influential bands. Hundreds of bands that you haven’t heard of until now as we re-release the hidden gems that got away.

Bristol today is still massively influential on the Dubstep and Grime scene. Bass Culture is still booming via the new breed of Sound System people — Bristol is still the BASS capital of the world. The big Reggae artists Black Roots, Talisman and Jashwha Moses have all reformed and are releasing new music and touring.

What’s the best thing about running a record label?
Finding people with tapes, transferring them lovingly, digitalising them and then remastering. The thrill and excitement of seeing people’s faces when we present them with in some cases masterpieces that have never been heard before. To summarise, the pleasure it brings people.

Where do you see the industry heading?
To me it’s 1977 all over again. There are no labels, there is no money or capital investment. Anyone can do it, anyone can have a label. The only MAJOR difference is that if you want mainstream distribution then that is virtually impossible to get — that’s one of our strengths.

Interesting. I would have thought mainstream distribution is easier for small labels nowadays. Pre-digital, it was difficult for niche music to find shelf space in non-specialist stores (i.e. the majority) and the length of time a release would remain in stock was certainly very limited. In the digital era, any distributed release can be made available on all platforms with no “shelf life” constraints. In this respect, do you think re-releasing niche music is more of a viable prospect than it used to be? 
I am referring to physical product CDs and vinyl, not digital. We are a record label releasing three formats so the digital side, whilst important, is only a small part. It’s virtually impossible to get a distribution and then a P&D deal whereas in the late 70s, distributors would take anything and everyone.

Thanks Mike! There are some fantastic releases lined up for 2014 including a re-issue of Andy Fairley’s Fishfood vs. Birth of Sharon and The Best of Heartbeat Records. I strongly recommend you go check them out! In the words of Geoff Barrow “Bristol Archive Records is an amazing dot to dot picture of the city’s musical history, I would recommend it to anyone who has ever been interested in why and how the sound of the city has become what it is today.”

pic of mike darby

taken from:

Nelson Mandela RIP

December 9th, 2013

Our tribute to the late great Nelson Mandela by Nick Darby part of our record and book design team. RIP Mr Mandela.


The Spasmodics – Bristol Legends

November 6th, 2013

THE SPASMODICS are back !!! Must see gig:


Spasmodics image 1

Massive Attack

October 29th, 2013

Massive Attack – brilliant last line from Grant – How the fuck do you market this? Bristol Boys Make More Noise We say:

New Releases for Feb 2014

October 26th, 2013

‘The Best of Heartbeat Records’

– Various Artists


24 Track CD & Digital Download. Released 10th February 2014


Heartbeat Records was set up in Bristol in 1978 by local folkie-type musician Simon Edwards and music store owner Tony Dodds to release the debut single by Bristol punk band Social Security. John Peel dubbed ‘I Don’t Want My Heart to Rule My Head’ “Charmingly rustic”, but then he would. With a free button badge coming with each copy, the record sold well and despite Dodds jumping ship after its release, the label was up and running.


With a few exceptions, Heartbeat largely moved away from punk into post-punk territory, serving up a dazzling array of clever, quirky bands – lots of sparse jagged guitars, busy drums and all the synths you could eat. But having said that, bands like Europeans, Apartment, The X-Certs, Glaxo Babies, The Letters, Stormtrooper, Art Objects and Affairs of the Heart, to name just several, were exploring very different styles giving the label a richly diverse roster that probably reached its peak with the release of Heartbeat’s 1979 compilation Avon Calling, described by John Peel (again) as “…really the standard by which the others must be judged in future. Because it really is superb there are 15 tracks on the LP, genuinely not a bad one amongst them, and a lot of really good stuff.”


And that went for Heartbeat as a whole, as you’ll hear on this comprehensive collection of the label’s finest tracks. The Best of Heartbeat Records is released by Bristol Archive Records on 10th February 2014 available on CD and digital download.



ARTIST: Various Artists

TITLE: The Best of Heartbeat Records

RELEASE DATE: 10th February 2014

LABEL: Bristol Archive Records


FORMAT:  CD and Digital Download


BARCODE: 5052571051221




1.        GLAXO BABIES                                WHO KILLED BRUCE LEE

2.        EUROPEANS                                    EUROPEANS

3.        THE LETTERS                                    NOBODY LOVES ME

4.        X – CERTS                                         BLUE MOVIES

5.        APARTMENT                                    THE CAR

6.        PRIVATE DICKS                               SHE SAID GO

7.        GLAXO BABIES                                CHRISTINE KEELER

8.        ART OBJECTS                                   SHOWING OFF TO IMPRESS THE GIRLS

9.        SOCIAL SECURITY                           STELLAS GOTTA FELLA

10.      ESSENTIAL BOP                               CHRONICLE

11.      APARTMENT                                    WINTER

12.      JOE PUBLIC                                      HOTEL ROOMS

13.      GLAXO BABIES                                ITS IRRATIONAL

14.      SNEAK PREVIEW                             SLUGWIERD

15.      DIRECTORS                                      WHAT YOU’VE GOT

16.      PRIVATE DICKS                               GREEN IS IN THE RED

17.      DOUBLE VISION                             MY DEAD MOTHER

18.      VICE SQUAD                                    NOTHING

19.      STINGRAYS                                       SOUND

20.      STORMTROOPER                           PRIDE BEFORE A FALL

21.      FEAR OF DARKNESS                      FEAR OF DARKNESS

22.      GLAXO BABIES                                SHAKE (THE FOUNDATIONS)


24.      ART OBJECTS                                   PAPERWEIGHT FLOOD

Duration:  78:10

Bandcamp digital download link =


‘Fishfood vs.The Birth of Sharon’

– Andy Fairley


9 Track Limited Edition Vinyl (Screen Printed Jacket), CD & Digital Download. Released 3rd February 2014


‘This album is like the missing link in Bristol’s musical history.  The good albums that is!! ‘                                                  GEOFF BARROW – PORTISHEAD


As the 1970s blurred into the 1980s, the sparks generated by the City’s punk bands with their ‘can do attitude’ to the music business ignited and Bristol’s music scene burst into life with a myriad of separate scenes springing up across the city, reggae, jazz, power pop, jazz funk and post punk. Many of the latter were part of what was called the Clifton set, named after Bristol’s most famous Georgian suburb where they mostly lived, played and held court.

Alongside the better known Clifton bands, The Pop Group, Art Objects, Glaxo Babies, The Startled Insects and Rip Rig And Panic was Fishfood and its singer Andy Fairley who aptly enough was recruited, based mainly on appearance, in a Clifton pub. Like many great talents Andy burned brightly, but only for a short time, the nine tracks included here being the sum of his output recorded between 1980 and 1983.

The three Fish Food tracks are the earliest originally released in 1981 on the innovative “Bristol Recorder 2” compilation. The rest of the tracks are previously unreleased and date from three years later with Andy’s second band The Birth of Sharon. The music itself is experimental and avant garde, a mixture of influences from reggae to Captain Beefheart, from krautrock to industrial, from punk to funk, genuinely cutting edge; experimental there were no boundaries to their creativity.

This is a project born out of love for an artist that few have heard of. The album was compiled and the sleeve notes written by Howard Purse, who was Andy’s band mate in both bands. The sleeve design is a painting from local artist Jimmy Galvin who played guitar alongside Andy and Howard in The Birth of Sharon. Andy and his music touched them and thirty years later they wanted to expose it to a wider audience. Mike Darby and Bristol Archive Records are here for exactly this sort of project, genuinely original and creative music from Bristol’s past that has fallen through the cracks, blissfully ignored by the London centric music industry in the eighties it has finally found it’s spiritual home with us.

The music touched others, especially musicians, The Pop Groups Mark Stewart calls Andy his generation’s Chatterton, another great Bristolian talent lost at an early age, whilst Geoff Barrow chose Andy’s music for Portishead to use as pre gig warm up soundtrack.  Andy’s music is still relevant today and now everyone can find out what the fuss is about and ponder over what might have been.

Andy Fairley’s “Fishfood vs. The Birth of Sharon” is released by Bristol Archive Records on 3rd February 2014 available on Limited Edition Vinyl with screen printed jacket, CD and digital download.

ARTIST: Andy Fairley

TITLE: Fishfood vs. The Birth of Sharon

RELEASE DATE: 3rd February 2014

LABEL: Bristol Archive Records


FORMAT:  Limited Edition Vinyl (Screen Printed Jacket), CD and Digital Download

CAT NO: ARC269V and ARC269CD

BARCODE: 5052571051313  /   5052571052020




Vinyl Tracklisting:

Side 1


  1. The Art of Wanking
  2. Volition
  3. Now
  4. Modern Dance Craze


Side 2


  1. Sex Is A Language
  2. Film Titles
  3. Dry Ice Hot
  4. Man Made It So
  5. Seventeen Eels


CD Tracklisting:


  1. The Art of Wanking
  2. Volition
  3. Now
  4. Modern Dance Craze
  5. Sex Is A Language
  6. Film Titles
  7. Dry Ice Hot
  8. Man Made It So
  9. Seventeen Eels


Bandcamp link =