Bristol Archive Records Blog

Posts Tagged ‘roots reggae dub glastonbury bristol talisman’

Album Review – The Reggae Explosion

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011




-  Genre: ‘Reggae’ –  Release Date: ’21st February 2011′-  Catalogue No: ‘ARC191cd ‘

 Our Rating:


Mike Darby’s Bristol Archive label has brought us several essential compilations over the past 12 months. The first celebrated the eclectic but brilliant post-punk dishes served up by the Fried Egg label. The second shone the spotlight on the white hot excitement of the city’s bristling Punk scene and, most recently, we were treated to ‘Avon Calling 2’: a fine, if very belated sister act to the original ‘Avon Calling’ which was very highly praised indeed by no less a figure than the late, great John Peel.

All of the above made it very clear that Bristol responded with verve and energy to the DIY gauntlet originally thrown down by Punk. However, as artists as seismically different as The Pop Group and Portishead have since proved, Bristol also knows a thing or three about grooves and shaping the way we dance today, so it’s no great surprise to discover that the culturally-diverse city also boasted an impressive Reggae scene during the feverishly creative years 1978-1983.

It might be because Bristol never produced a heavyweight ‘white’ Punk outfit capable of bringing the Punk/ Reggae interface to the masses the way The Clash or The Ruts did that much of this music remained of resonance only locally at the time, but it’s undeniable the major labels made little or no effort to seek it out either. As a result, it was down to a handful of discerning local labels (Nubian, More Cut, Restriction and Shoc Waves (sic)) to document the time on vinyl. Incredibly enough, none of the tracks have since been readily available on CD, never mind digitally.

Hindsight, of course, brings its own rewards, but it seems baffling that songs such as ‘Baby Come Back (Home)’ by BUGGS DURRANT or SHARON BENGAMIN’S ‘Mr. Guy’ never cleaned up on the radio. The first offers sweet Bob Marley-style pop and the second winsome lovers rock in the Janet Kay or Susan Cadogan vein and both had enormous crossover appeal. Ditto the supple, silky skank of THE RADICALS’ ‘Nights of Passion’.

Great all these track are, though, it’s the earthier, Roots-style Reggae purveyed by the likes of BLACK ROOTS and TALISMAN that’s at the heart of ‘The Bristol Reggae Explosion’. To these ears, both of these bands were every bit the equal to the likes of Steel Pulse or Misty in Roots and they bequeath us several fantastic tracks here. The 12” mix of Black Roots’ ‘Tribal War’ is a memorable anti-violence/ pro-unity anthem set to a slow, but robust skank, while their ‘Bristol Rock’ is the epitome of militant and melodic. TALISMAN’S bouncy and eminently catchy ‘Run Come Girl’ comes from their 1981 Glastonbury Festival appearance, while their tough, ratchet-y ‘Dole Age’ single sounds as relevant and prophetic three whole decades on.

Elsewhere, JOSHUA MOSES brings us a splendidly righteous Rastafar-I anthem ‘Africa (is our Land)’ with production from the eminent Dennis ‘Bluebeard’ Bovell (Matumbi, The Slits’ ‘Cut’ LP), while RESTRICTION’S toast’ n’ dub masterpiece ‘Four Point Plan’ almost gets lost in a heady Ganja fug. Perhaps even better still is 3-D PRODUCTION’S ‘Riot’ which – with sounds of sirens and breaking glass riding uppity bass and drums – taps into the mood of unrest in the months prior to the 1981 Brixton riots.

Coming housed in an appropriate mid-80s carnival sleeve of the Jah Revelation sound-system in full effect, ‘The Bristol Reggae Explosion’ is a magnificent collection of well-dread treats from a series of home-grown shoulda-been Roots-Reggae stars.   It’s not only the latest in a series of unmissable compilations from this quality-first archival label, but most of its’ content wouldn’t have seemed out of place should they have arrived with a Trojan Records imprint. And I think that speaks for itself.

Reviewed by Tim Peacock

Taken from:



Pre Order Now from Bristol Archive Records

Brilliant Reggae Review

Monday, December 27th, 2010


 Following on from their superb ‘Bristol: The Punk Explosion’ compilation of earlier in 2010, Bristol Archive Records have produced the equally compelling ‘Reggae Explosion 1978 – 1983’ long player. These fourteen tracks reflect on a time when Jamaican musical influence was more ‘roots’ based – at a time before the more aggressive and explicit derivation of ragga took hold and along with hip-hop and all its sub-genres became the most popular ‘imported’ music to the UK. 

This compilation devotes three tracks to both BLACK ROOTS and TALISMAN, with two to both JOSHUA MOSES and RESTRICTION, with another four local artists contributing one track each. 

BLACK ROOTS are probably the best known of the Bristol reggae bands of that era. They toured the UK extensively throughout the early Eighties and even recorded the signature tune for the BBC TV series ‘The Front Line’ in 1984, which I guess highlighted their popularity and acceptability of the genre at that time. It is their ‘Bristol Rock’ that rather appropriately opens the album. As their name would indicate, their take on reggae music is very ‘roots’ based. It’s smooth and laid-back, with as with all music of this type, is instantly infectious and dance inducing. They also wade in with the 12” mix of ‘Tribal War’ which has a tinge of African beat about it, while their final track, ‘Juvenile Delinquent’ was re-mixed by DJ / producer Jah Woosh and was well received (within the context of the reggae world at least) in the dancehall world of the mid-Eighties. 

The three TALISMAN tracks are the longest on the album. The first of the three is a ‘live’ recording of ‘Run Come Girl,’ and features a sort of wailing, harmonica type sound – similar to that used in later years by Beats International on their ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ hit. ‘Wicked Dem’ is also a ‘live’ recording and the best indicator I can give here is to UB40’s ‘Signing Off’ period, with the sax mixing seamlessly with the backbeat and dub style drum sound. And it is this particular ‘dub’ sound that features so well on the epic, eleven minutes of ‘Dole Age’ (12” mix.) 

JOSHUA MOSES also leans in this direction throughout the latter half on the first of his two contributions, the ultra-rare ‘Africa (Is Our Land)’ whereas his other track ‘Pretty Girl’ illustrates more of a gentle ‘Lovers Rock’ style.

‘Nights Of Passion’ by THE RADICALS would most likely fall within that same category, as would SHARON BENGAMIN who on ‘Mr. Guy,’ exhibits a similar style and mood to that which afforded Janet Kay a mainstream chart hit with ‘Silly Games’ in 1979. Similarly, BUGGS DURRANT and ‘Baby Come Back (Home)’ reminds me of the Barry Biggs hit from a couple of years earlier, ‘Sideshow.’

However, it’s the ‘dub’ style of reggae that always hooked me back in he day – and still does, I have to say. 3D PRODUCTION use this style in part on their ‘Riot’ track. Heavy bass lines are straightened out, with the organ and vocals getting slight reverb tweaks. But it’s the two contributions from RESTRICTION (‘Four Point Plan’ and ‘Restriction’) that have me heading straight up to my loft after I finish writing this piece, and looking out my old vinyl copies of Blackbeard albums!

This is a superb compilation, which although it obviously focuses on the Bristol scene of that time, simply highlights what was going on in the inner cities up and down the length of the UK at the same time as, and ultimately dovetailing with the Punk scene.

Which brings me back nicely to the earlier release on this label which concentrates on that particular counter culture. BOTH these albums from Bristol Archive Recordings are well worth adding to any collection!

Go check ‘em!

(Released through Bristol Archive Recordings – and also on limited edition vinyl pressing – on 21st February 2011)

(10 / 10)

Taken from:

Preorder now from


Sunday, November 14th, 2010




Released on 25th April 2011 




Hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed “The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983” Bristol Archive Records return to the City’s rich reggae heritage with another album full of lost gems. This time it’s the criminally neglected Talisman who benefit from a long overdue and well deserved release.


Originally formed in 1977 as Revelation Rockers, a name they soon changed, by the early 1980s, Talisman were consummate performers not only vying with Black Roots for the  title of Bristol’s number one reggae act, but also one of the  country’s most popular live bands. They toured the UK building up a loyal following and leaving memories of gigs that are still discussed to this day. The band’s prowess earned them support slots with acts as diverse as Burning Spear, The Clash and The Rolling Stones and they were more than capable of playing in such esteemed company.


Despite their undisputed talent a major record deal never materialised and until now the only way to hear Talisman has been to track down their two difficult to find singles from 1981, or their two later LPs, “Takin’ The Strain” from 1984 and “Jam Rock” From 1990. Now after nearly thirty years Bristol Archive Records have lovingly compiled a CD of the band at their peak in 1981. Not only does the CD contain the band’s two original 7” singles, but also seven carefully selected live cuts from classic shows at Glastonbury and Bath University.


This is the first time on CD for this material and is also the first proper release of any kind for the live tracks, though either gig was surely strong enough to have produced a proper live release at the time. If only the finance had been there, at least there was the foresight to properly record the shows for posterity.


Being a reggae release vinyl hasn’t been forgotten. The limited edition LP is effectively a completely different release featuring the full extended 12” mixes of both singles in their entirety as well as the previously unreleased “Nitty Gritty”.


As with the label’s previous foray into the local reggae scene, which incidentally also features tracks from Talisman, this release allows a new generation to hear some great music and strongly makes the case that there was a lot more to the UK reggae scene than Aswad, Steel Pulse and Misty In Roots, Bristol was rocking just as hard as London or Birmingham and Talisman were a large part of the reason why!


LABEL / DISTRIBUTION: Bristol Archive Records / Shellshock

CAT NO: ARC199CD and ARC199V

FORMAT: Limited Edition Vinyl plus CD and Download


PRESS CONTACT: Mike Darby 01179855092             Email: