Bristol Archive Records Blog

Archive for April, 2011

Talisman Album Review 10/10

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011


TALISMAN: ‘Dole Age.’ The 1981 Reggae Collection.

This is an inspired choice of release from the forward-looking (or perhaps that should be backward-looking) Bristol Archive Recordings. Having previously issued two albums of retrospective compilation material showcasing the punk and reggae scenes within Bristol around the latter half of the Seventies / start of the Eighties, they now concentrate their attention on the vastly underrated reggae stalwarts TALISMAN.

Although TALISMAN were deemed worthy of support slots with bands the calibre of The Clash, Burning Spear and even The Rolling Stones, a major record deal was never forthcoming. As far as I can ascertain, the sum recorded output from the band amounts to two singles and a couple of albums released in 1984 and 1990.

However, talent like this should not remain inaccessible, and Bristol Archive Recordings have now made available those two much sought-after singles (‘Dole Age’ and ‘Free Speech’) as well as seven carefully selected tracks from the band’s classic shows at Glastonbury and Bath University to comprise the seventy-two minutes of this wonderful album.

Admittedly, reggae does sound at its best when pumping out some massive sound system on a gloriously sunny day. But we don’t get many such days up here in Glasgow (and my crappy music system and even my I-pod are currently knackered!) but I can tell you, it still sounds magnificent on the van stereo and my laptop.

There is lovely warm feeling about this brand of reggae. The sax and keyboards see to this. But the whole album also incorporates substantial helpings of dub along the way, often integrating it as a mid-song breakdown. Tracks like ‘Run Come Girl’ feature the ‘harp’ (mouth organ) in the haunting manner made more commercially acceptable by the likes of Beats International (‘Dub Be Good To Me’) about a decade and a half later.

The live tracks have never been properly released before and although the crowd sounds are muted / sparse, it somehow makes the tracks even more special in that they feel that bit more intimate – that they are being performed just for you.

Of course there are also a few tracks that seem to transpose into big jams. ‘Words Of Wisdom’ for instance spans almost fourteen and a half minutes, with some great drumming / sax combinations given the dub treatment while vocalist Lazarus Taylor skanks his way through set, delivering his deliciously reverb-drenched lyrics with clarity, conviction and authority.

I genuinely can’t believe just how atmospheric this album is – it really transports the listener back to a time of dingy basement parties and oppressive, fuggy air. If your perception of ‘old skool’ reggae is based upon say UB40’s version of ‘Red Red Wine,’ then you really have to listen to this album and sample just what it was like back in the day. (Look! I sound like your Father!)

If you were indeed around or experienced the vibe at the onset of the Eighties, then you‘ll be equally enthralled by this release, which serves as a reminder that the UK reggae scene, while it remained steadfastly in the ‘underground,’ was in fact an equal of the burgeoning but more exposed Punk movement.
It also perfectly illustrates that UK reggae had more to offer than just Aswad, Steel Pulse and Misty In Roots.

(Released through Bristol Archive Records on 9th May 2011)

** The album will be released on CD and Download basis, but there will also be run of Limited Edition Vinyl Albums which will include five different tracks – including the 12” mixes. **


Taken from:



TALISMAN – announce London show

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Talisman return to London town on 3rd June 2011 in support of their album ‘Dole Age’ released on May 9th

Further information can be found here:

Riot In Bristol – 3 D Production

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

7” Vinyl – Limited Edition Single

“RIOT” and “Re-Arrange (Version)”

Released 11th July 2011


The success of “The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1979-1983”, has helped many new fans discover some of the wonderful reggae music hidden away and half forgotten in Bristol’s musical story. Many people have got in touch with us and asked if there was any chance of re-releasing some of these tunes in their original seven or twelve inch vinyl format. Having dipped our toe in the reggae singles market with our very limited release of a Joshua Moses/Sharon Bengamin split seven inch for Record Store Day we are delighted to announce our first full release is the most requested track from the album, 3-D Production “Riot”, coupled with it’s original B side, “Re-Arrange (Version)”.

3-D Production were an offshoot of The Radicals with John Carley on vocals, guitar and percussion and Black Roots member King providing the bass lines. This two man core were then supplemented by other local musicians. The single was released in 1980 on the small reggae label Third Kind and judging from it’s scarcity it seems to have sunk without trace, fortunately we didn’t forget it !! So after more than thirty years it will be re-released on Bristol Archive Records.

The title “Riot” needs no explanation and is about the St. Paul’s riot that had only just happened, a classic case of reggae reportage, opening with police sirens and the sound of smashing glass. The original picture cover is adorned with an image of the burning Lloyds Bank on Ashley Road whilst the rear features a burned out police panda car. Perhaps it’s no surprise “Riot” was banned by the BBC!

The B side “Re-Arrange (Version)” didn’t appear on the LP and has not previously been reissued. It presents a complete contrast to “Riot”, a sparse dub obviously inspired by late period Black Ark recordings with the snippets of vocal harmonies dropping in and out of the mix. A real grower that you find yourself drawn back to again and again wishing that there was a proper vocal version to accompany it.

The single will be released on Monday 11th July housed in an updated version of the original picture sleeve and with perfect attention to detail, we have even used the same colour for the labels as used on the original.




ARTIST: 3-D Production

TITLE: ‘Riot / Re-Arrange (Version)’

FORMAT: Limited Edition 7” Vinyl Single

LABEL: Bristol Archive Records

DISTRIBUTION: Exclusive to


RELEASE DATE: 11thJuly  2011


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

The X-Certs Album

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011


 Vinyl LP – Limited Edition 500 Pressing with Insert plus Strictly Limited Replica CD and Download


Released 8th August 2011


1978 and especially 1979 were confusing times for young punks in the provinces. If you didn’t want to go all arty and post-punk, or buy a stupid skinny tie and go New Wave, you were doomed to be terminally unfashionable. Two years later, you were still terminally unfashionable, but you could sell records. But that’s another story.


As 1978 wore on, we thanked God for the likes of UK Subs and Angelic Upstarts, and here in Brizzle…the mighty X-Certs! With Clive Arnold (vocals and guitar), Simon Justice (guitar), Taf (bass) and Neil Mackie (drums), The X-Certs served up welcome blasts of Clash-style punk anthems. They were politically charged and passionate, friendly and down to earth, and a great live act, but for some reason their recordings were relatively few and far between. One track, Blue Movies, on Hearbeat Records’ 4-Alternatives EP, and another called Anthem on the same label’s acclaimed Avon Calling compilation album. And that’s yer lot with the original line up.


Live, though, they were real contenders, pulling as many as 500 people into Trinity Church before they even had a record out, and supporting the likes of the afore-mentioned Angelic Upstarts, Pere Ubu, Misty In Roots, The Only Ones, and most famously, The Clash, at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, on 11 February 1980, on the 16 Tons Tour, with none other than Topper Headon mixing their sound.


By the Clash gig the line-up had changed and so had the band’s style, exploring new musical territories including reggae, but this album captures the original four-piece at the peak of their Punk Rock powers.


“We Are What We Are. We Are – The X-Certs”


ARTIST: The X-Certs

TITLE: ‘Rated XXX’

FORMAT: Limited Edition  500 Pressing Vinyl LP plus strictly limited edition hand made replica CD and Download

LABEL: Bristol Archive Records


CAT NO: ARC138V and ARC138CD

RELEASE DATE: 8th August  2011


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

Talisman – Dole Age – More Album Reviews

Friday, April 15th, 2011



Hot on the heels of the Bristol Reggae Explosion (1976-83) compilation comes another gem from Bristol Archive Records. Talisman may not be the first band that springs to mind when one talks about UK reggae, but as this 1981 collection of rarities and live recordings show, they had not only a strong fanbase but a powerful sound to accompany the early ’80s. Tracks that have since been nigh-impossible to find, the collection offers an insight into the band’s studio material in the form of four 7” translations and seven live recordings from Glastonbury Festival and Bath University.


Opener, Dole Age, is clearly a soundtrack to the early ’80s, but haunting lyrics about “wasting our lives” and questions about survival translate to 2011’s economic times. It’s reggae’s incentive element to speak politically, especially when at the time reggae was slowly moving into more pop areas for Lover’s Rock. Some bands tried to water down their sound both politically and musically to appeal to the charts. Second track, Free Speech, is also a strong song about speaking one’s mind, rejecting oppression and control. Whilst UB40 may have named themselves and made allusions to dole queues, Talisman mark their studio releases as statements, as protest music that really speaks to an intelligent mind.


Stride On, one of the live recordings, has a more upbeat tone in its sound than the 7”s, but still stays true to their political elements, a damning attack on the hypocrisy of those power. Talisman declare “unity is strength” in the true legacy of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The live tracks have a fantastic energy to them, the sound of the appreciative crowd in the distance and Lazarus Taylor humming with charisma and control as he keeps the energy flowing whilst introducing songs. The key to reggae is the flow of a track, but Taylor makes sure the whole set has a flow. Which means once we get deep into the seven golden live recordings the album we are caught within a beautiful smooth stream. Unlike some live recordings you can come across, this album sounds fresh and tight, capturing the glare of the band in their lyrics and presence of protest reggae. Also to note is the fact these tracks clock between 5 and 14 minutes, but there doesn’t seem to be the pretence one finds with progressive or psychedelic rock of similar length songs. Indeed, the tracks have a drifting tide attached to them


This album is an insight into reggae from the early ’80s. If you prefer your reggae with a hint of protest and a declaration for unity and community (“live not for yourself”), then make sure you hunt down more Talisman and especially this collection. If you like early Steel Pulse or Delroy Wilson then this is the perfect addition to your music.


Taken From:




Talisman – ‘Dole Age’ (Bristol Archive Records)

Following on from their recent ‘Bristol Reggae 78 – 83′ collection, this release provides a belated showcase for one early eighties Bristol reggae band who, while their talents weren’t quite reflected in actual success in the then mainstream certainly received significant recognition from the rock world, supporting both the Clash and Rolling Stones on occasion as well as numerous headline live shows, some of which are documented here .

Talisman do seem unlucky to have found themselves overlooked when it came to securing any kind of label contract, as it does seem that on the strength of the previously unreleased studio tracks from 1981 here they might actually have made the crossover into the top 40 had they received something more in the way of promotion. Their combination of roots sounds and some sharply turned out Two Tone influenced numbers would’ve made something of an impression, but Talisman only released two singles and it wasn’t until 1984 that their first album appeared. They were a stunningly good festival act though, as the seven live tracks on this CD can testify. Anyone with an interest in Old School reggae will find a place for this in their collection.

Taken from:



The X-Certs Album to be released later in 2011

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The X-Certs   Album    ‘Rated XXX’          ARC138V   (Vinyl Release later this year)




  1. Anthem          (Simon Justice)        Heartbeat Music 1979
  2. Together        (Clive Arnold)            Recreational Music 1979
  3. Blue Movies   (Simon Justice)     Heartbeat Music 1979
  4. People Of Today  (Simon Justice)  Copyright Control 1978
  5. You Have Been Warned   (Taf)    Copyright Control 1978
  6. Spotlight   (Arnold, Justice, Mackie, Taf) Copyright Control 1978
  7. City Claustrophobia   (Clive Arnold)   Copyright Control 1978
  8. Suicide   (Clive Arnold)   Copyright Control 1978
  9. Fight Back   (Simon Justice)  Copyright Control 1978
  10. Gotta Get Away   (Simon Justice)   Copyright Control 1978


Track 1 and 3 Recorded at Crescent Studios, Bath Engineered by David Lord and Glen Tommey. Track 3 Recorded April 8th 1979.


All other tracks either recorded at GBH Studios, Bristol in 1978/79 or Drone Studios in Manchester 1978. The Bristol tracks were engineered and produced by Steve Street.


Here’s a snippet of the text from the sleeve notes. There are fantastic photos included as well.



Neil Mackie – Drums


The X-Certs were one of the true original punk bands of Bristol. Even though they were not among the very first wave of bands to be born of this New Wave movement (like The Cortinas for instance) when punk rock exploded initially, they were one of, if not the first band to come from the areas of the city you wouldn’t want to go to. With cheap Woolworths guitars that sounded just as good as their illustrious peers, a worn out 2nd hand drum kit and broken amplifiers, they made a sound totally different but totally of their time.


Hailing from the housing estates and the working class underbelly of East Bristol with attitude belying their roots and heavily influenced by the sights, sounds and smells of the Black and Asian communities they grew up with, The X-certs quickly became a powerful and influential force on the scene with a huge local following, inspiring countless others like them to pick up their instruments as the weapon of choice and be heard. Before they formed their own band Vice squad were often seen at those incendiary early gigs.


The X-Certs grew out of a politically charged era and atmosphere, under the cloud of power cuts, strikes, riots, dole queues and heavy handed police tactics on anyone that didn’t conform. This included Black, Asian, ‘the looney left’ and anyone who looked different or appeared out of place, so growing up in these areas of the city meant they were constantly being hounded with stop and search tactics. Add this to the fact that these were violent times; they were often the target for NF thugs, football hooligans and biker gangs. It’s no wonder they had plenty to rage about compared with their uptown cousins, taking the option to let the music vent their anger rather than just giving up hope like so many around them. Yes, “A working class hero is something to be” someone once wrote!


The first official X-Certs gig was at the Crown Tavern on Stapleton Road, a grotty, smoky dive frequented by hardcore IRA supporters and anarchist groups. They were the first band to play there ahead of a few New Wave acts who dared to venture into the wrong end of town. Even today the Stapleton Road area of Bristol has a reputation for drug dealers, muggers and prostitutes, some of whom would follow the band at those early gigs. Taff, the bass player with the group, made the first hand-made poster with the legendary words: ‘X-Certs are coming – you have been warned’, to be plastered across the city which was also the title of one of the first songs written by the group. The first gig was full of power, sweat, blood and tears, the packed audience all swept up in the moment. The hand-built, makeshift stage survived and the legend was born.


The X-Certs went on to become hugely popular and the first choice as local support for visiting bands, especially when playing at Trinity Hall, Old Market, close to their fanbase from the estates of Easton and Barton Hill.


They opened for the likes of Misty in Roots, Angelic Upstarts and Pere Ubu as well as playing several headline sell-out shows of their own at Trinity Hall.  The X-Certs played everywhere from city centre established music venues, halls and community centres in the suburbs, political rallies, backs of lorries, to ramshackle fleapits in every corner of the West Country in those early days, often in places where others feared to tread. They had the plug pulled on them or were closed down by the police on several occasions and still they kept coming. As their fanbase grew so did their notoriety and were even banned from several venues. Even this didn’t deter them as The X-Certs were fast becoming the local band of choice for all the disenfranchised outcasts throughout the region and were now getting attention from further afield.


In summer 1978 they were asked to perform at the now legendary Rock Against Racism carnival in East London. There they performed on the back of a truck with The Ruts who were a like-minded group, politically charged and from a similar background. The two bands took it in turns to play several sets each between the marching and the banner waving.


The X-Certs went on to record twice for Heartbeat Records in those early days: Blue Movies on the Avon Calling compilation album and Anthem on the 4 Alternatives EP, both full of intensity and that trademark X-Certs sound which had power, melody, angst and great tunes, often being compared with the early incarnation of Adam and the Ants or a band that was just coming out of Northern Ireland at the time, Stiff little Fingers.


But to really capture the feel and awesome power of this influential group and to really get a grip on what it all meant, you just had to be there, in the no-job no-money no-future, times of the 70s…..enjoy!


Brilliant Talisman Album Review

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Review: ‘TALISMAN’

-  Genre: ‘Reggae’ –  Release Date: ’9th May 2011′-  Catalogue No: ‘ARC199′

Our Rating:  9/10


Like Americana, British reggae’s not had an easy critical ride over the years, even though the Post-Punk years did yield home-grown success stories like Steel Pulse, Aswad, Black Slate and Misty In Roots.

A few months back, however, the inspired ‘Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-83’ compilation demonstrated just how strong the UK reggae scene was in the aftermath of Punk. At least in the ceaselessly creative Avon region.

Originally known as Revelation Rockers when they formed in 1977, TALISMAN were among the cream of the Bristol crop, vying with Black Roots for the title of the city’s finest Reggae outfit as the 1980s kicked in. Live, their reputation was second to none and their CV boasted opening slots for the esteemed likes of The Clash, Burning Spear and The Rolling Stones: all of whom needed to be on form to take the audience with them afterwards.

Though the pundits repeatedly suggested great things were in the wings for Talisman, history records that major opportunity never quite knocked for them and it would take until 1984 for the band to even get an album out in the shape of ‘Takin’ The Strain’. The musical landscape was by then very different and another six years of slog followed before the second Talisman album ‘Jam Rock’ appeared.   By which time much of the initial excitement had long dissipated.

Thanks to the ever-vigilant Bristol Archive label, however, we can now cop a glimpse of Talisman at their majestic peak on ‘Dole Age – the 1981 Reggae Collection.’ Featuring 11 tracks in all (with a further five on the vinyl version) it boasts the group’s two harder –to-find –than-hen’s-teeth singles from 1981 and a further clutch tracks recorded live at Bath University and the 1981 Glastonbury Festival.

Frighteningly, Talisman’s classic unemployment anthem ‘Dole Age’ (“it’s been like this since school, sir/ we just can’t see no other way”) now seems an even starker reality thirty years down the line in a Europe mired in bailouts, recessions and meltdowns. Musically, though, it’s flawless with sublime grooves, sultry horns and ratchet-y guitars sparring with vocal toasts and dub-by excursions.

B-side ‘Free Speech’ and both sides of the follow-up single ‘Run Come Girl’ and ‘Wicked Dem’ handsomely prove Talisman had many more of these sweet, yet militant tunes in reserve. Led by Desmond ‘Lazarus’ Taylor’s soulful voice, the band were a superb, tight-but-loose outfit, totally at home whether taking on cool skankin’, space-y dub and even pure Pop.

The live tracks are equally fantastic. Precisely recorded and of top drawer sonic quality, they include the fatalistic ‘Nothing Change’, the urgent ‘Stride On’, the positively epic 14-minute ‘Words of Wisdom’ and a lovely change of pace for the languid, Rocksteady-style groove of ‘Calamity.’ All the tunes are rapturously received and the celebratory atmosphere makes it clear that Talisman were utterly in their element in front of a large crowd.

Marrying lyrics speaking eloquently of oppression with tunes Channel One or Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s legendary Black Ark would be proud to put their names to, ‘Dole Age’ is a must for all fans of authentic Roots reggae. Congratulations are due (once again) to Mike Darby’s Bristol Archive for bringing us yet another revelatory collection.

Taken from:


Gigs News

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Black Roots confirm headlining album launch Bristol show at the Fleece for September 9th

Talisman are approached to headline The Harbourside Festivals Queen Square stage, last weekend in July – awaiting confirmation

Black Roots are approached to play ATP in London - pending confirmation