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Posts Tagged ‘roots reggae’

This says it all! Buy the record people.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Various: The Bristol Reggae Explosion 3 (Bristol Archive)

The third of this series of compilations of 80s reggae from Bristol, and it does seem that the keepers of the Bristol reggae archive are saving the best for last. If part one was an introduction of sorts to the now only dimly recalled bands and vocalists that were keeping Stokes Croft skanking three decades ago, and part two a reminder of some of the more musically developed tracks that were emerging from the scene then, part 3 delves into some quality songwriting and some of the really quite astounding reggae/jazz crossover that fully deserve a wider hearing today. Second track, Bunny Marrett’s ‘I’m Free’ is a verging upon actual genius example of this. The tune is carried by a double bass and piano, with some bongos to add percussion and moving away from the more recognised approach to reggae musicianship gives the track a remarkable air of originality, adding depth to Marrett’s vocal as it does so – something like Burning Spear fronting Count Ossie’s band, awash with spiritual depth and with its jazz groove providing a dash of invention.

Talisman’s ‘Taking The Strain’ is a slightly ahead of its time (1983) roots tune of the kind that Aswad would take into the charts later in the decade, and its infectious keyboard riff could very well have found a larger audience at the time. Ron Green is credited with dubby instrumental ‘Then Came You’ whose resonating drum sounds piledrive their way across the track, and the album press release makes a request for more info about Zapp Stereo, whose ‘The Mission’ resembles PIL jamming with Pigbag’s brass section amidst a storming array of sound effects. None of the other 15 tracks are anything less than inspired and, credit where its due, Volume 3 is the album which takes the Bristol reggae archive away from just historical curiousity to a vital listen entirely in its own right.


Taken from:

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 3 – Killa Review

Monday, February 27th, 2012


It’s hard to believe that this series is up to volume three, documenting the music being made in one city, in one genre. They’re onto mostly unreleased music but the quality is still there, there was clearly just too much around to find a market at the time. These are the boom years of British reggae; the very end of the seventies and up to the middle part of the eighties. After that, the fire kind of went out, though isolated examples from later have value. The Rastafari movement and Roots reggae gave a spiritual and political impetus to the music being made but, as people moved back to love songs, things lost their stepping force.

Talisman feature large, three times if you count their previous incarnation as Revalation Rockers, with strong cuts. Bunny Marrett has an affecting demo, sounding like it was recorded in a cave and none the worse for it. Joshua Moses, a man who failed to get more than two tracks released in thirty years, has a great live cut, Stick It Up, sounding filthy but actually lambasting hypocrites and parasites, it captures the groove of live reggae. Some dub gives colour, from Alfred McIntosh and Babylon Fire – Ron Green is the best of the set though, groovy, dubby, echoey. The strangely named Popsy Curious has a classic in Chant Down Bobby Rome, a hypnotic repetition of “Brother are you ready, Sister are you ready, Ready to chant down Babylon”. Kind of sums up Roots for me. Zapp Stereo bring more dub, while Cool Runnings (presumably named for the eighties film about the Jamaican bobsleigh team) are nothing less than excellent. Popsy reappears on The Vibes Lovers Rock contribution – a sweet thing, before Dan Rachet ends the set with more Lovers. At seventy minutes, this third compilation isn’t a moment too long – an astonishing achievement!

A continuing record of an era when British musicians eclipsed Jamaica, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this, reggae aficionado or not. This is a really great compilation – if this much was going on in the early eighties in Bristol, it makes me want to take a time machine back there. This is the next best thing.

Ross McGibbon

New UK Reggae Record Label Launched

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Bristol-based Sugar Shack Records has been rebranded and launched as a label specialising in releasing new British reggae music.

Artists on the label’s books so far include JASHWHA MOSES, BLACK ROOTS, TALISMAN and AMJ DUB COLLECTIVE.

The first release on the Sugar Shack label, which is the sister imprint of Bristol Archive Records and Reggae Archive Records, is AMJ DUB COLLECTIVE’s 12” vinyl Sound History Vol 1.

The new record is a tribute to Bristol sound systems and features THE GENERAL on MC duties and ROB SMITH with a brace of dub mixes.


JASHWHA MOSES’ new album No War has been slated for release in September, while a brand new record from BLACK ROOTS is expected around the same time.

JASHWHA, formerly known as JOSHUA MOSES, is also putting out a career retrospective record called Joshua To Jashwha – 30 Years on 9 April.

TALISMAN’s Takin The Strain (deluxe edition) CD is set for release on 5 March and the band will start recording new material in the spring.

Upcoming TALISMAN shows include:

·         8 Mar – Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms (supporting THE SELECTER)

·         29 Mar – Exeter Phoenix (supporting THE SELECTER)

·         31 Mar – WAMA High Wycombe (headliner)

·         27 May – VegFest, Bristol (headliner)

·         20 Jul – Llangollen, Wales

·         18 Aug – Wowfest, Isle Of Wight

Check out live footage of the roots reggae band performing at the Fleece in Bristol last December.

Sugar Shack was established in 1985 and released some critically acclaimed rock music from the likes of MIDASUNO, XISLOADED, LEFT SIDE BRAIN, CRASHLAND and REDEFINE, among others.

Label head Mike Darby said: “After 25 plus years of fantastic music we look forward to concentrating on promoting fantastic British reggae acts.”



Talisman – Takin The Strain

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
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CD Reviews
Written by Nev Brooks
Saturday, 21 January 2012 04:45

Talisman_Taking_The_StrainFor those with an interest in reggae this is a bit of a landmark recording. It was originally issued on vinyl way back in 1984, and was in fact Talisman’s first studio LP. The band themselves having been mainstays of the Bristol scene since around ’76, albeit with differing personnel through that time. And it’s also perhaps worth pointing out that on the original release of ‘Taking The Strain’ Talisman were in fact a three piece.

This trio of Desmond Taylor (Dehvan Othieno Sengor), Dennison Joseph and Donald de Cordova were supplemented for the recordings by a host of local musicians as well as the engineering and co-production talents of Richard Lewis (UK Scientist), a mainstay of the British reggae scene.

The earlier release through Bristol Archive Records ‘Dole Age’ (reviewed here) showed a band coming to the top of their game in 1981, it contained their first two seven inch singles but also seven live tracks from classic shows at both Glastonbury and Bath University. ‘Taking The Strain’ then builds on this showing a band full of confidence, not afraid to experiment and more to the point highlights some superb musicianship.

So what does it sound like? I have to say this is roots reggae at its very best, on a par with the best to come from Steel Pulse, Aswad and the like, I’d go so far as to say that it pushes one of my personal faves Black Uhuru hard. What instantly comes to mind are the little touches by UK Scientist, the slightly slowed dub bass on some tracks, the crystal clear sound, the guitar wrapping around the vocals and the not so obvious use of keyboards!!!!!

And do you know what? This album gets even better with the addition of a bonus live performance from the London Lyceum from a support slot with Eek-A-Mouse back in 1985. Stand out tracks for me then are ‘Lick And Run’, Stride On’ and ‘Crimes Of Passion” but in all honesty there’s not really a weak track here.

From the bonus tracks ‘Slow Poison’ is absolutely burnin’ in the words of a certain Mr. Marley, listen to that brass section!!!

Overall then a very worthy addition to any music collection.


Monday, January 16th, 2012




Released 9th April 2012 on LP, CD and Digital Download



    From the beginning of Bristol Archive Records involvement in documenting Bristol’s neglected reggae heritage we’ve wanted to release an album that showcases the great talent of one of the local reggae scene’s mainstays, Joshua Moses.


    Unfortunately, Joshua has no copies of the many recording sessions he has done in the years since his first session in 1978, and so it has taken more than eighteen months of painstaking research and the pursuit of numerous leads to gather together the fifteen tracks on “Joshua To Jashwha – 30 Years In The Wilderness”. The result is more than worth any effort involved on our part and is as strong a debut album as anyone could wish for, guaranteed to create a buzz among reggae fans worldwide.


     The tracks on this album were recorded between 1978 and 2003 yet prior to Bristol Archive’s involvement the only tracks to have been previously released were the very scarce “Africa (Is Our Land) and it’s dub counterpart “Home”. The former, included on the “Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983” and both tracks will be reissued on a very limited 12” in February 2012. The only other track to have previously seen the light of day is “Rise Up”, first heard on “The Bristol Reggae Explosion Volume 2”. Again we have included it’s dub counterpart and again we are releasing a very limited edition 12” alongside “Africa (Is Our Land)” in February 2012.


          The other 11 tracks were recorded over a period of twenty years and include a trio of live recordings, but all the tracks have one thing in common, they are all roots tunes of the highest order and Joshua being a multi talented musician has created the music with as much skill as the lyrics. Having dealt with repatriation with “Africa (Is Our Land)”, we move on to “House of Dread”. One of the highlights of Joshua’s live shows in the early eighties, it welcomes all of humanity to embrace Rastafari in universal unity, although there is the caveat that the rich may not be welcome.


Evildoers come under attack in “Stick It Up” which attacks the hypocrites and parasites, (vampires and old pirates), who have caused so much suffering throughout history. We then move onto “Jah Time Has Come” that skilfully adapts Aswad’s  “Promised Land” rhythm as Joshua looks forward to the coming of Jah and universal justice. Another candidate for the twelve inch treatment is “Suffering Is In the Past” and it’s dub counterpart, a tale of life’s struggles and overcoming suffering. This is followed by “Rise Up”, Joshua’s call to fight oppression and injustice wherever it is found. “Steel” calls for love to triumph over evil. Joshua then proclaims his Rastafarian, Jamaican and African identity in “Bobby Wrong”. “Children Of the Light” and “Nothing To Lose” show Joshua’s vocal versatility as he uses a falsetto voice, whilst “Protection” says that if you embrace Jah he will guide and protect you and show you the way. The final track “Distant Guns” introduces a bluesy guitar giving the song a unique and extremely catchy feel as Joshua sings how love will triumph over adversity come judgement day. All the tracks are sung with the utmost conviction, by an artist who truly believes what he sings.


     It’s likely that if Joshua had been recording in Kingston rather than Bristol he would have become an international star, his music avidly collected and lauded with praise. It may be rather belated, but this release should go a long way towards establishing Joshua’s reputation internationally.


     The other purpose of this release is to draw a line under Joshua Moses and see him reborn as Jashwha Moses, Jashwha has had many trials and tribulations over the decades and his lonely struggle for musical success has often been an uphill battle. Now with this career retrospective and a new name to tie in with his new, but equally spiritual material, he can hopefully look forward to the success and wider recognition his talents have always deserved.


ARTIST: Joshua Moses

TITLE: ‘Joshua to Jashwha – 30 Years In The Wilderness’

RELEASE DATE: 9th April  2012

LABEL: Bristol Archive Records


FORMAT: Format:  CD, Vinyl and Digital Download

CAT NO: ARC250CD and ARC250V

DOWNLOAD LINK (For review purposes only; ): 


CONTACT: Mike Darby, E:  T: 07885 498 402

PRESS CONTACT: Garry Hutchinson, E : T: 01429280582



Monday, January 16th, 2012



‘ ALL DAY ALL NIGHT ’ (Deluxe edition)

Released 23rd April 2012 on CD via Bristol Archive Records


Having previously teamed up with Nubian Records to release the critically acclaimed “Black Roots – The Reggae Singles Anthology”, Bristol Archive Records have once more been allowed into the Black Roots/Nubian tape vaults. This time we bring out a 25th anniversary deluxe CD edition of “All Day All Night”, the album that saw them teaming up with the Mad Professor and moving away from their original sound for a more polished version. Whilst the music may have been brought up to date, the band’s lyrics rarely strayed away from the same themes of social and historical justice that define the roots genre.


      As well the original dozen vocal tracks, we’ve added several dub versions and the extended 12” mix of “Pin in the Ocean”. The music itself saw the band embracing new technology and production techniques to give themselves a more contemporary UK sound, expertly helmed by the UK’s leading reggae producer Neil Fraser. The dub mixes give another dimension to the music, the Mad Professor’s signature mixing style meaning these mixes wouldn’t seem out of place in his own “Dub Me Crazy” series.


      A quarter of a century after its first release, “All Day All Night” is worthy of reissue and hopefully will find a new audience amongst fans who were too young for its original release as well as appealing to those who want to supplement their vinyl issues and enjoy the many extra tracks included on this CD. Bristol Archive Records have paid their usual attention to detail and to complement the newly re mastered music, the booklet will include many previously unpublished photos of the band.


      Back together after many years, Black Roots are working on a new album to be released in late 2012 as well as performing around the UK. The fact that several of these songs have found a firm place in their live set, emphasises the quality of the writing and the need for this long overdue reappraisal. Bristol Archive Records have once again fulfilled their mission and rescued another deserving and high quality album from obscurity for a new generation of fans.



Tracks CD:

1.    Realize

2.    Pin In The Ocean

3.    Release the Food

4.    Freedom

5.    Poor Children

6.    Spare The Rod

7.    Conman

8.    Seeing Your Face

9.    All Day All Night

10. Mighty Lion

11. Suffer Me Not

12. Childless Mother

Additional tracks:

13. Pin In The Ocean (Extended Mix)

14. Reality Dub

15. Folitrickshun Dub

16. Dub Free

17. Face Dub

18. Fertility Dub



Release                All Day All Night (Deluxe Edition)

Artist                    Black Roots

Format                 CD

Cat No                ARC252CD

Label                    Bristol Archive Records

Barcode                 5052571026526    

Release Date         23rd April 2012

Genre                   Roots Reggae 


Contact: Mike Darby, E:  T: 07885 498 402


Happy New Year

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Black Roots – The Reggae Singles Anthology achieves a Top Ten position in Record Collector Reggae Albums of 2011

Revelation Rockers achieve a 5 out of 5 Album review for ‘Jah Praises’ to be released March 2012 in Record Collector

Good start to 2012

Talisman live footage Dec 2011

Monday, December 26th, 2011

TALISMAN live at the Fleece, Bristol: fan-filmed video footage available

UK roots reggae band TALISMAN performed live at the Fleece in Bristol last night. Fan-filmed video of the show, including tracks “Nitty Gritty” and “Stride On”, can be viewed below.

The homecoming gig, with support from PAPA ROOTS SOUND SYSTEM, concludes a successful year for the Bristol group, after the release of Dole Age – The 1981 Reggae Collection, followed by the group’s first Bristol show for 20 years back in May.

The track “Stride On” features on the Dole Age… LP; here it is live:

“Stride On”

The vinyl format of the Dole Age LP also features the previously unreleased track “Nitty Gritty”. Here’s the band playing the track at the Fleece:“Nitty Gritty”

Originally formed in 1977, the 2011 line-up of the band includes the following founding members:

  • Bekele Sengor (also known as Dehvan Othieno) – lead vocals and guitar
  • Leroy Forbes – lead guitar
  • Dennison Joseph – bass

After nearly 30 years Bristol Archive Records put together Dole Age… showcasing the band at their peak in 1981. The CD contains the band’s two original 7” singles and eight live cuts from Glastonbury Festival and a Bath University show.

The Bristol label is also set to release on 5 March 2012 a new ‘lost’ album from REVELATION ROCKERS – the band that went on to form TALISMAN. A deluxe edition of TALISMAN’s first album (from 1984) Takin The Strain is due out on the same day.

The Bristol Reggae Explosion Vol 3 – The 80’s part 2, which features a TALISMAN track, is also due out not long after, on 19 March 2012.

TALISMAN has one upcoming show so far in 2012:

  • 31 Mar. 2012 – WAMA, High Wycombe

Album reviews from the ALL MUSIC GUIDE from the USA

Friday, December 23rd, 2011


Dole Age

Bristol Archives




Originally formed in 1977 as Revelation Rockers, Talisman was one of the iconic players in Bristol, England’s little-known but very rich reggae scene. Although they achieved significant success in the UK and snagged opening-act slots for such important acts as the Clash, the Rolling Stones, and Burning Spear, Talisman never managed to get a contract with a major record label and their recorded output between 1977 and 1984 amounted to only two singles. Dole Age compiles the A and B sides from both of those singles (the deluxe LP version boasts extended 12″ mixes of those tracks) and adds seven live tracks from the period. While the quality of this material is consistently high and the release should be snapped up by fans of UK reggae, it’s fairly easy to see why Talisman had trouble keeping the interest of major labels: their sound is accomplished but at times a bit featureless, occupying a fuzzy area somewhere between the dry severity of early Steel Pulse and the smooth roots-pop of middle-period Aswad. That said, there are some great songs here: the swinging “Wicked Dem” recalls the sound of UB40 at around the same time, while “Free Speech” bustles along nicely in a Two Tone mode and the live “Calamity” boasts both sharp hooks and an elephantine rockers groove.

Talisman were clearly at their best in a live setting, and were particularly good at incorporating dubwise effects onstage, as is nicely demonstrated by the excellent “Nothing Change.” This is very good stuff, but probably mainly of interest to specialist listeners.

Various Artists

Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983

Bristol Archive




By the late 1970s, multiple waves of Jamaican immigrants had come to England and congregated in such industrial centers as London and Birmingham, bringing their music with them and helping to create vibrant reggae scenes in those cities that are amply documented. Less so is the smaller but equally vital scene that grew up in the small town of Bristol, and which is now being given its due by the Bristol Reggae Archives label.

Apart from reissuing albums and compilation by such locally iconic bands as Talisman and Black Roots, the label has also put out a two-part compilation of recordings by lesser-known acts like Joshua Moses, the Radicals, Buggs Durrant, and Restriction. This first volume thoroughly establishes the importance and startling quality of Bristol’s reggae scene during this period: not only are the featured tracks of consistently high quality, but they also vary substantially in style. Although the darker, more serious “roots” school predominates (and is exemplified beautifully by excellent tracks like Joshua Moses’s “Africa Is Our Land” and Black Roots’ “Tribal War”), there are also smoother and more modern entries by the Radicals (“Nights of Passion”) and Buggs Durrant (“Baby Come Back Home”). And with “Mr. Guy,” the sweet-voiced Sharon Bengamin anticipates the lovers rock style that would take London reggae by storm in the 1980s‹her take on the sound is a bit scrappier and more rough-edged (and the sound quality on this vinyl transfer is marginal), but all the elements are in place. Iffy sound quality is a sporadic problem, but it’s not serious enough to diminish the significant pleasures of this excellent collection.

Various Artists

Bristol Reggae Explosion Vol. 2: The 80s Bristol Archive ARC228CD



Following the positive critical and commercial reception of Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983, the Bristol Archive label followed up with a second volume, this one focusing on the early- to mid-1980s and including more extended mixes and dub versions. This volume is the result of pretty serious crate-digging and musical detective work on the part of label

staff: Cool Runnings’ “Robin Hoods of the Ghetto” was apparently originally released in a pressing of only 200 copies, for example, and Bunny Marrett’s “Times Are Getting Harder” was hardly less scarce; Alfred McIntosh’s spare and spacey “Wicked Dub” was never issued commercially at all. While there is nothing on this album that could fairly be categorized as filler, compared to the first volume there is more that will appeal primarily to specialist listeners than to the casual reggae fan. “Times Are Getting Harder,” for example, is quite frankly not that great a song‹those with a serious interest in the history of UK reggae will definitely want to hear it, but few will be likely to put it on a playlist of favorite tracks from the period; and McIntosh’s other dub contribution, “Ah It (Dub)” is also rather lackluster. On the other hand, there are brilliant tracks by Black Roots (“The Father”), Joshua Moses (the minor-key “Rise Up”), and Zion Band (the very Steel Pulse-y “Twelve Tribes”). Anyone with a serious interest in learning more about UK reggae will want to own both this collection and its predecessor.

Black Roots

Reggae Singles Anthology

Bristol Archive/Nubian



**** (pick)

Granted, there was a lot of competition in England during the early 1980s, and granted also that Bristol, the band’s turf, was pretty far removed from the central reggae scenes in London and Birmingham. But still, on the strength of this outstanding compilation, it’s hard to understand why Black Roots didn’t become a major international reggae act. They hit the peak of their powers at the same time that Steel Pulse and Aswad were making a big splash, but despite some high-profile opening slots with major touring bands, Black Roots’ impact was primarily regional. The Bristol Archive label continues its project of bringing classic recordings of the period back to light with this excellent collection of the band’s singles, EP tracks and remixes, including some later songs recorded in collaboration with England’s preeminent modern-roots producer, the Mad Professor. Highlights are hard to identify here, because the quality of playing, singing, and writing are all consistently quite high, but a few tracks do stand out: “The Father” brilliantly combines an earworm melody with a gorgeous descending bassline, to lovely effect; “Chanting for Freedom” is filled with rich harmonies that will make your hair stand on end (and is offered in an excellent showcase version, with the dub version appended); and they do a very nice version of the old Jacob Miller hit “Susie Wong.” The only disappointments are minor: an underwhelming two-chord vamp titled “Juvenile Delinquent,” and a rather tired update of a vintage roots-era rhythm titled “The Frontline.” Otherwise, this is a brilliant compilation from a criminally underappreciated band.

Joshua Moses / Dennis Bovell

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Spent an hour on the telephone last night talking with the great man Mr Bovell about the two Joshua Moses 12″ singles to be released in Feb 2012. The Anthology album for Joshua scheduled for release in April 2012 and Joshua’s new album planned for September 2012. Exciting times for Bristol Archive but equally exciting will be our new label launched in 2012 and our first release from AMJ DUB COLLECTIVE via our rebranded imprint in April 2012.

You can find out more about AMJ here www,  

It was a thrill to be able to explain our plans to Mr Bovell lets hope we can get him involved with in some capacity.

Merry Christmas

Mike, Martin, Steve, Sam and the team