Bristol Archive Records Blog

Archive for March, 2012

Ujima Radio to partner Bristol Archive Records

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Hot news: Ujima Radio (98 FM) has forged a partnership deal with Bristol Archive and Sugar Shack Records to promote its releases, the artists and their tunes to the world.

We start with our April releases which includes Joshua Moses, Black Roots, AMJ Dub Collective and Cool Runnings

More information and detail soon

Bristol Archive Records’ stunning journey:

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Bristol Archive Records came from seemingly nowhere when the label in early 2011 dropped the acclaimed compilation Bristol Reggae Explosion. This release has been followed by several hard to find roots reggae gems by Bristol-based artists. United Reggae got a chat with label owner Mike Darby to find out more about him and his many projects.


Meet Mike Darby, an independent financial advisor, golfer and married with two children. He’s also the owner, head of people relations, chief detective, finding new material, head of A&R and boss man at Bristol Archive Records and Sugar Shack Records. If that wasn’t enough, Mike Darby is also a Director at Archive Publishing.


He started his music career as a singer in 1979 with the reggae/two tone/ska band The Rimshots. The band put out a couple of singles and played with The Beat, The Bodysnatchers, Black Roots, Talisman and acclaimed dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Six years later he ventured into band management and launched Sugar Shack Records focusing on British rock artists. The label recently switched direction though, and from 2012 and onwards Sugar Shack will be putting out contemporary British reggae acts.


In music terms, Bristol is primarily known for the genre trip-hop and artists such as Tricky, Portishead and Massive Attack.The reggae scene has however also been thriving ever since the 70’s in different shapes and forms, and the main aim for Bristol Archive Records is to put many more or less unheard of reggae artists on the map and put the record straight.

For me it’s the untapped and unreleased gems that have fallen through the cracks of time,” explains Mike Darby, and continues:

“The expectation is minimal from the artists so its amazing seeing these people get a break some 25 or 30 years later, smiling, being proud and getting excited about roots music again.”


And the response on the releases so far seems to please Mike. And one word sums it up well.

“Amazing,” he states, and explains:

“I can’t believe the response from all around the world. The records sell, the artists have a second chance and we are one big happy Bristol family – taking on the world and spreading our sounds.”


Thanks to the success of Bristol Archive Records Mike has also changed direction of his other label – Sugar Shack Records. Its first reggae release is the 12” Sound History Volume 1 by AMJ Dub Collective, released on 23rd April 2012.


“The success of the Bristol Archive Records means that Black Roots, Talisman and now Joshua Moses are back out in force spreading their message via live performances. It just made sense to support them and their new material by having a record label that can work with them,” says Mike, and further explains the company’s direction:

“All things reggae from Bristol and the rest of the UK if we can discover the talent on our other label .”


Now back to the reissue business, and Mike’s recipe for finding new material to put out.

Word of mouth, referrals, putting out great looking records and being nice people.”

It sounds easy, but it probably also means a great deal of work to compile compilations with hard to find golden nuggets or unreleased gems, Mike pays special praise to his Reggae colleague Martin Langford aka Dubmart who compiles the track running orders and writes the amazing sleeve notes, plus Steve street who does most of the mastering.  


Jah Praises from Revelation Rockers is one of those gems. It was recorded in the late 70’s, but didn’t see the light of day until March 2012.

“Shocked, stunned, excited and motivated,” says Mike about his reaction when he heard about Jah Praises.


But this album is far from an exception in the increasing Bristol Archive catalogue, and the flagship compilations Bristol Reggae Explosion 1, 2 & 3 includes a great deal of unissued material. To me, it’s remarkable that a tune like Rise Up from Joshua Moses has been lying around in a drawer somewhere.

And happily enough Mike reveals that there are more to come.

“Joshua Moses’ Joshua to Jashwha 30 Years in the Wilderness is a must buy for any roots fan. It’s stunning.”



Taken from:



Jashwha Moses

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Joshua (Jashwha) Moses with The R.A.S Band booked as support to The Skatalites – Exeter Phoenix – May 19th

For further information go here:

Talisman Gigs Updated

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Thu 29 Mar – Exeter Phoenix (Supporting Selecter)

Sat 31 Mar - High Wycombe WAMA

Sun 27 May – Bristol Veg Fest

Sat 30 Jun – Diss WowFest (Norfolk)

Fri 20 Jul – Llangollen Fringe Wales

Sat 18 Aug – WOWfest, Isle of Wight

Sun 19 Aug – Strummerville (To Be Confirmed)

Sat 25 Aug – Plymouth Crocadon Sawmills


The Politics Of Envy – Out This Week

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Mark Stewart, frontman with the Pop Group, the maverick’s maverick has a brilliant new album new album and tour exploring the possibilities of sound, The Politics Of Envy is out this week and is backed up with a mini tour. We chat to him.

26 March 2012: Glasgow – King Tut’s tickets £12.50

27 March 2012: Manchester – Ruby Lounge tickets £12.50

28 March 2012: London – The Scala tickets £13.50

Mark Stewart defines the word maverick.

In the decades since punk and his legendary band, The Pop Group, he has made a series of records that have combined a whole rush of cutting edge musics to create his own style. His new album, The Politics Of Envy, is his best for years- a mash of dark disco, post punk, skewed electronics and punk spirit- it’s dark, heavy and political but somehow also really pop.

Still fascinated by the cutting edge he has gone to the musical frontiers and collided all the flux of new styles into a composite new whole. The Politics Of Envy is a frenzy of anarchic, confrontational sound with some key collaborations with a series of names that help to define the adventurous spirit of the album from cult film-maker Kenneth Anger, Keith Levene (Clash/PiL), Richard Hell (Television, Voidoids), Lee “Scratch” Perry, Gina Birch (The Raincoats), Tessa Pollitt (The Slits), Douglas Hart (Jesus And Mary Chain), Factory Floor, Daddy G (Massive Attack), all of Primal Scream, Youth (Killing Joke) and Bristol new blood Kahn.

The lead off track, Autonomia featuring a shared vocal with Bobby Gillespie is a modern anthem- the kind of music you expect in these end times and it comes with a really cool video with the two singers wandering through the modern meltdown looking like the hippest wise guys in town.

Mark Stewart has made some serious records in his career and he is also a serious operator but he also has a completely unexpected mad sense of manic humour, a six foot plus rush of energy and ideas, too intelligent for the run of the mill mainstream, too maverick to fit in anywhere, it’s this feral energy and high IQ that makes him fascinating and with the album and a series of upcoming gigs he makes a welcome return to the front-line where we need this kind of loose talk.

Conversation with Mark is an adventure in itself, he can switch from the deadly serious to the almost childlike funny with a series of machine gun gags, he still has the bristol burr of his youth and has that full on lust for life that defines all the punk originals with that added air of unpredictability and danger.

LTW: How are you, Mark?

MS: Tired, but fine. It’s full on at the moment. Rehearsing full on and everything is kicking off. It’s like having to do everything round the world in three days. It’s all good.

LTW: You are about to tour. What kind of format are the gigs gonna take, are you going to be using a lot of the guests you use on the album?

MS: At the moment, I’ve got a killer new rhythm section, these guys called Arkell & Hargreaves. They were the first people I’ve ever seen that can reproduce Future Bass and Dubstep noises with real instruments. I’ve nicked them from this grime outfit called True Tiger. The bass player can get the deepest sub bass low end wobble you’ll find. In the rehearsals the sound is like astronauts in one of those wind tunnels. His bass playing is like sucking your face off! And this drummer is amazing. I’m really excited about it, these kids are mental. The sound they make is mental. The drum and bass sounds mental. Sometimes I forget to sing because I’m just nodding my head.

Then we’ve got Dan Catsis who’s the bass player in the Pop Group, but in fact he’s a really good guitarist as well. Before the Pop Group he was in a Bristol punk band called the Glaxo Babies. They did this great song called Christine Keeler and I saw him play it with a dildo on his guitar. Apart from Levene, he was one of my favourite guitarists from that period. We got him to play bass in The Pop Group, but he’s playing guitar on this stuff, it sounds mental.

And then we’ll have guests coming in and out. In London, Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes from Primal Scream are getting up, and hopefully Doug from the Mary Chain and probably Levene. I think when we play L.A. Kenneth Anger will get up, or Richard Hell in New York, it just depends on who’s around at what ever, just different things.

LTW: It’s quite a complex line up of guests but the album retains your personality and works within the spirit of adventure that was the true punk ideal.

MS: The songs on the record started as punk songs anyway. I just used Daddy G’s voice or Lee Perry’s voice or other people’s voices as textures instead of samples but underneath they are my punk songs- so it’s quite easy to do it live. Playing live is always different to the studio anyway. We always experiment in the studio and try new things. Live, though, it’s gonna be very punky.

LTW: The album has got a lot of collaborations on it, do you just go through your address book and put an album together? You’ve obviously known a lot of these people for a long time.

MS: Yes, My Little Black Book! For me it’s like coming home to my family. I remember way back in the punk days when we used to come down to the Roxy with the Cortinas and I remember hanging out with different people there like Don Letts. I met Keith Levene there the day Elvis died. We were supporting the Cortinas at the Roxy with the Pop Group and I went outside to have a cigarette. There was this kid just leaning against the wall and I ended up chatting to him about UFOs. I really got on with him and thought he was just a random stranger. A couple of years later I saw him playing with Public Image! I’ve always had a lot of time for him, I think Keith Levene is one of the lost legends from the whole English punk thing. So many of the people I work with come from chance meetings like that.

I was going to call this album ‘Fountains’, it’s a bit of an experimental title, it means people that have been fountains of knowledge and information and nutrients to me since I was a kid. I remember when I was about 12 or 13 and I went to this all day Kenneth Anger screening and some of his films just completely and utterly blew my mind. Then I remember reading about Richard Hell and the Neon Boys, and dreaming about working with Richard. And it’s these people that educated me. Like Lee Perry- the guy’s a shaman. Underneath it all I am just a little fanboy, standing next to these people, I’m still the little kid listening to their records in my mum’s bedroom. When we started doing the artwork to the back cover and they got everyone’s names on there, I was thinking what is my name doing in with all these people. Mental!

LTW: When the guests came down to do the recording, did you have an idea of what you wanted them to do, or did you just say to them ‘Here’s the track, do it’?

MS: It’s weird, there’s been some random procedures to it, and the thing has developed on my travels. The vocals on that Bowie cover I did, I organized a big conference in all these galleries in the old area of Lisbon, as a hommage to Kenneth Anger. I recorded that vocal while he was doing a performance piece. These friends of mine from this Dada collective called Mechanosphere did all the treating of it. Some other stuff was recorded in these mental run down bits of Vienna, other bits were done in Berlin. With hard drives it’s like a little diary, a travel log, you pick things up and capture the moment of the people when you’re hanging out with them. With the technology now it’s not like you go to some residential studio and ponce about, you just capture things of the moment and try to capture the magic.

I had ideas that I wanted to use Lee Perry in a kind of War of the Worlds thing as a Richard Burton voice-over thing on the track Gang War. With Kenneth I wanted to bottle his magic so I got him to play the theremin. I was using people as samples of their spirit. We got Keith Levene to play guitar, he hadn’t played guitar for about 10 years. He was doing all this cyber stuff- he’s got this thing called ‘Destroy all Concepts’. He’s back on form now, sounded amazing. Douglas Hart, who has been making films for ages, was playing this weird Indian Ragga stuff which is great. I wanted Gina Birch’s energy and her shouting. I was using the skills of the people to tell my story.

LTW: It’s such a complex sounding process and weirdly, somehow, it almost sounds like a pop record.

MS: Yes, fantastic, that’s what it’s meant to be. And touch wood, with Daddy G’s help and the Primals’ help, suddenly we’re on the BBC, we’re being playlisted, suddenly all these doors are opening which I wasn’t really aware of. I think it’s good to engage with the mainstream at this moment, as an antidote, maybe to have someone saying something else is out there. I know when I was a kid if the New York Dolls hadn’t been on the Old Grey Whistle Test I’d be working in a factory, music can make that difference. They are playing my songs on big chat shows on American TV now, it’s mad.

LTW: The mainstream and the underground are so mixed together there’s no point boxing yourself in one or the other.

MS: Exactly. There’s a real vacancy at the moment for something like this, a scarcity of mad ideas. There are cool people deep in the middle of the machine, there’s punks all over the world running things, taking over. It’s crazy the kind of people you hook up with, maybe all this will make a difference.

LTW: The line has gone really bad now. Are you holding the phone funny?

MS: Yea Yea. I do everything funny John! That’s what she said to me last night!(laughs)

MS: Live we are going to mix it up as well. In Glasgow we’ve got this kid called Twitch from this dance collective called Optima. They’ve got this really cool label, people in Germany love their stuff. Twitch did a remix of Autonomia. He’s doing a mad set when we play in Glasgow. And Adrian Sherwood is doing all the mixing. Jez Kerr from A Certain Ratio has got a brilliant new solo project, I saw some of it by chance and I love it. So he’s going to open up in Manchester.

In London we’ve got this noise artist friend called Russell Haswell. he does this post-conceptual noise art stuff, he’s absolutely brilliant. I’m DJing, Bobby Gillespie is DJing. Bobby and Innes from the Primals are getting up on stage, Adrian is mixing it all, there’s lots of different things going on.

LTW: So like on the album, there is a lot of diversity at the gigs?

MS: Completely. Every single song to me is like a mini movie, a jigsaw. Sometimes I change genre halfway through a song. For example back in the day when I made an album called ‘As the Veneer of Democracy Starts to Fade’, from one song my mates in Bristol went off and had ideas for trip hop, but on the same song Trent Reznor and Al Jourgensen said it inspired them to make industrial music. I don’t see where that’s coming from! I’m interested to see what new genres people will start calling some of these things. I love it when they start thinking of weird titles, especially in a foreign language.

LTW:When you work with other people is it like working with different genres, trying to balance opposite ideas to create something new.

MA: I need to be excited about something. If I’m in some club in Berlin and I hear these new bass wobbles, some post-dubstep or whatever, I just think ‘I want that bass!’ I spent ages looking for this plugin called Massive, it makes the most wobbly flatulence inducing, bowel pounding bass noise I’ve ever heard, and it’s better than sex. But I don’t want to play it in the dubstep style, I played it in a Black Sabbath style with the heaviest sub bass instead. We’re having to bring in special reinforced sub bass sound systems for the tour that they use on big raves and stuff. The bass has got to make you wobble. If I’m excited about something like that, I get in the mood to start hollering on the top of it. Underneath I’m like an MC really. As much as my punk roots, I grew up in blues dances and stuff, where people would just get on the mike and start shouting out nursery rhymes and sea shanties.

LTW: Bristol has always had an eclectic music scene, does that feed into where you’re coming from?

MS: Yeah, my uncles were bouncers in the Fifties, and when the Teds used to wear their drapes they used to have razor blades behind the lapels. So when my uncles had to throw them out, they cut their hands to pieces and I grew up with that. One of the legendary lost bands of the Bristol music scene is this band called Johnny Carr & The Cadillacs, who one of my aunties went out with. My mum and dad had a Skiffle thing called the Eager Beavers, so they were a really big influence and there was also all these other musics about.

LTW: The black scene really overlapped into the white scene in Bristol didn’t it. The white kids had punk and the black kids had the blues, in other cities they were separate.

MS: There’s no difference, I don’t see colour myself. All the black kids came to the punk gigs, we had Asian punks, black punks, dwarf punks. Punk was a completely mixed scene, like the football. Bristol is such a small place so there was only one late night club. We all went there. It’s big enough to be a city but small enough that everybody has to get on. I can’t really explain it but it’s still going on. I’m down there quite a lot. I’m loving all this bass stuff that’s coming out of there like Joker and Appleblim, there’s some great stuff coming out of Bristol at the moment.

LTW: Despite the fascinating guests on the album and genius sounds employed you have an interesting take on the role of the musician…

MS: With punk, we thought everybody was equal, anybody could come on the stage. I don’t see how a musician is different from a sparkie or somebody who works or makes baskets. Troubadours used to be like the local village newspaper, they just spread information around. I don’t hold the role of musician any higher than somebody who works in a cafe. In Bali they have a saying ‘We have no art, we do everything well’. People put musicians on a pedestal and think they’ve got answers. I think if you have got a role as a musician, it’s good just to be honest and not try to make out that you’re perfect. It’s a bonding thing really.

LTW: When we were younger, the pre-internet musician had a certain role or space but that’s kind of blurred now isn’t it.

MS: I’m not really a critic, I can’t analyze it. I’m quite happy to provide a service, a good night out. I remember going to the early Pistols and Subway Sect gigs in London. I remember taking Patti Smith to see the Clash the first time she came over. She didn’t even really know there was a London punk scene. I thought they were just great places to meet people. I’d be chatting to all these people; film makers and poets and it’s a good space. It’s not just about the band, it’s about the people you meet and get on with, it’s a social experiment. You create an area for people to meet for a few hours. Like a free pirate spaceship.

The Free Pirate Spaceship comes to land this week with these gigs and the album- see you there earthlings…

Taken from John Robbs site – Louder Than war:

Forget Banksy, Brooksy gets ready to paint Bristol red (and gold, green and black)

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Do you know, it’s been a fascinating journey and probably the first time I’ve ever looked at the musical scene from one particular area and watched the styles and type of music change in relation to what’s happening both culturally and socially, from an outsider’s viewpoint so to speak, not being part of it, not being led, but forming my own opinions (granted in retrospective), something all of us at Uber Rock believe in passionately.

The first album of this trio of long-lost releases from Bristol Archive records is ‘The Bristol Reggae Explosion 3 – The ’80s Part 2′, like its predecessors, a stunning piece of work for all reggae aficionados, roots reggae at its very best. Some of the bands I’ve reviewed previously – Talisman, Joshua Moses and the Revelation Rockers – all supplying some classic cuts that yet again beg the question, why didn’t they break out further and stand alongside some of the UK more recognisably class acts such as Burning Spear and Aswad, moving out of their community and into the mainstream awareness?

But this LP has also introduced me to others such as Cool Runnings, The Radicals, Vibes, all on a par with anything I have heard previously but, stand out track on this one for me is by a guy called Alfred McIntosh, a stunning dub track called ‘Pain’. I can’t recommend this LP enough for anyone with a passing interest in the genre, or even just an open mind!!!!

Moving on to Joshua Moses – ‘Joshua To Jashwa’ and, being a solo artist, you tend to wonder how they get their ideas across to the band, and what and where is that band formed from: with the culture so vibrant at the time in Bristol finding like-minded musicians to express them must have been a lot easier than it is now, I just wish I’d attended some of the St Pauls Carnivals in the early ’80s!!!!

So, on to the music: as is the want with Bristol Archive Records a mixture of rarities and never before put together and released as one. This LP though has a more dub-centric feel with dub versions of ‘The Suffering’ and ‘Rise Up’ sitting alongside the originals, dub being one of the driving forces for some of the more modern Bristol artists such as Roni Size, Massive Attack and Portishead giving birth to their own genre in turn at a point in the future, Trip Hop. This is a powerful album; it lulls you in then you start listening to the lyrics and realise how shaped the music is by the culture and the society that is shaping it. Standouts for me this time are ‘Distant Guns’, Children of the Light’ and ‘The Suffering’. Again, highly recommended.

Finally on to the last of the three releases here, Smith and Mighty – ‘The Three Stripe Collection 1985-1990′, and you see a distinct change: this isn’t reggae, this is music that has been influenced by the rave generation of the time; you see the music change from the influences of dub, bringing in the American influence of techno, hard house, acid house, music driven by the influence of the club, designed to enhance an altered state of mind through various substances. Music of the moment but, to me, without any longevity, music that fades outside the club environment. This to me is music that has lost a musical soul, it’s not musician-led but programmed, looped and repeated by the new gods of the time (’80s/’90s) producers and DJs!!!

Why is this reviewed here, you might ask yourself? A rhetoric answer would be The Prodigy and Chase and Status first and second on the bill at Download 2012!! Whatever you feel about it, it’s happening. Listening to this you can pick out where the embryonic Prodigy first started to appeal – anyone remember ‘Charly’? But you can also see where Ronnie Size, Gary Clail et al started to mutate their sound from as well as seeing how the music would be transformed by both Massive Attack and Portishead.

As a rock fan I hate the sort of music on this disc, but as a music fan I can only look back and see how many bands it has influenced so some kudos must be given.

Roll on the next Bristol Archive Records release: keep up the good work, what a journey through Bristol’s history.

Taken from:

The Cortinas – UK Tour 2012

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

It is with regret that The Cortinas have had to cancel their proposed tour dates this summer.


Due to circumstances beyond their control the band have made the disappointing decision.


They hope to revisit the idea at some stage in the future, until then the reunion is off.


Mike Darby



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:


Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Joshua Moses                                              4/5

Talisman                                                       4/5

Bristol Reggae Explosion 3                       4/5


The Joshua review is killa:


‘This is one of the must – have reissue albums of the year’ 4/5   RecordCollector