Bristol Archive Records Blog

Talisman Live Review supporting Toots

Whatever next? Reggae gig reviews on Uber Rock? How do I start to drag some of you readers in to give it a go, and maybe just maybe get you guys and gals to give these bands a listen?

I’m not afraid to stand up and say I like reggae, not the fare pedalled by bands like UB40 always set up for commercial cross-over, but real roots reggae. Like all the best forms of music this stuff is written from the heart, performed with belief and guaranteed to provoke a reaction from the audience, be it to dance, to fight or just to partner up later.

“So where’s this pre-amble going” I hear you cry? Well while there are two bands playing here tonight, you couldn’t have two more different sounds. On the one hand one was born on the streets of Bristol, coming out of the St Paul’s area at the same time as bands like Vice Squad and the Cortinas, playing politically savvy music and rearing up against a Thatcherite Britain attempting to squash the Bristol sound and their culture. So it seems rather appropriate that the reformed Talisman have come back when their music if anything has never sounded so relevant and times are slowly slinking back to those bully boy right wing dark days. You know after seeing them live tonight I can now fully understand why the Clash recorded ‘Sandinista’, and why Talisman supported them on that album’s tour, it just all fits perfectly.

Then on the other half of the bill you have a sound born on the streets of Kingston Jamaica, reflecting the vibrancy and culture of the late 60′s/early 70′s on the island, Toots and the Maytals were the inventors of Reggae (fact they were the first band to use the word reggae in a song in 1969). And as I was saying same music two different sounds, but for aficionados of rock, because this is a rock website after all, Toots and the Maytals were also championed by The Who and supported them on their 1975-’76 American tour. So when you questions “does this music belong on a rock website?” you have a hell of a lot of support for the “yes” argument from some real heavyweights of rock.

So, what were they both like live? Well the youngest Uber-rocker on the block Lewis B is now a confirmed Reggae fan, as he’s over the barriers tonight shaking hands with Toots and getting really excited about what he’s discovered here!! It will, and I can categorically state this, be one of my gigs of the year, that’s how good both these bands were live.

Opening with ‘Nitty Gritty’ Talisman set the tone perfectly, followed with tracks like ‘Run Come Girl’, ‘Free Speech’, ‘Nothing Change’, ‘Words Of Wisdom’ and ‘Ah Wah U Say’, they simply burned, and my only complaint was the set was far too short! But I intend to rectify this as Talisman are also headlining the Fleece on the 23rd December, now that has got to be a goer.

To the headliner then and it’s not often you see a living legend, someone who through their set changed completely my view of what reggae could sound like, and if anything at times Toots and his gang went down the route of free form funk work-outs more in line with George Clinton than Bob Marley. ‘Pressure Drop’ yeah the track that was covered by amongst others The Clash, Izzy Stradlin’ and the JuJu Hounds and The Oppressed (more of the rock pedigree) was immense, (point of fact, they even recorded an LP with reworks of their own songs with amongst others, Keith Richards and Bonnie Raitt, which is lying somewhere in my collection, I must dig it out).

Third track in and my ears are pinned back by a stunning version of ‘Louie Louie’ and tracks like ‘Reggae Got Soul’, ‘Funky Kingston’ and the other cover ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ had me smiling and dancing instead of getting my reviewing thoughts in order, but what the hell we’re here to enjoy ourselves right?

So back to my opening question “does Reggae belong on a rock website?” well through the last 30 years or so there’s been some serious rock royalty that certainly thinks so, so why not pin your ears back get out there and experiment a little.


Leave a Reply