Bristol Archive Records Blog

Archive for July, 2012

Album Reviews

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Reggae, roots, dub, lovers and how to do a compilation

It’s been a real pleasure discovering a label like Bristol Archive Records, that was brand new to me and seeing them to my mind at least grow and incorporate new elements and sounds with each new release. Their journey has led me from post punk Bristol (1977) to modern days via a newly re-energised Black Roots release which is actually covered later on in this piece). The label’s aim has always been; ” To showcase music from the diverse Bristol music scene and provide a historical account/document of all things Bristol that should never be forgotten. Many of the artists and releases are rare, unknown or never before released, with the original vinyl releases generally being limited to runs of 1,000 copies or less.” And you know what, as a music fan I just love the spirit of this label.

In fact that gets me thinking back to one of my previous incarnations, running a record shop in Cardiff, one where we built up what was probably the best collection of reggae this side of the Severn bridge, but even we missed what was going on not 50 miles away, probably down to the small pressings of the original material.

As I have said in numerous reviews of the Bristol scene, (all here on Uber Rock) I cannot believe the quality of the music I am now getting to hear in retrospect, each one as strong as the last. So what of the latest clutch of releases?

Dan_Ratchet_Jah_Poor_PeopleFirst up Dan Ratchet- ‘Jah Poor People’, well this LP is now getting a full release 26 years after conception, and you have to ask why?

The roll call of collaborators involved with the album include amongst others Aswad and Misty in Roots, for the London sessions and then over in Jamaica we have Earl “Chinna” Smith and Sly Dunbar in probably the most famous reggae studios in Kingston – Tuff Gong amongst others. With a pedigree this strong it was always going to be spot on, and it is, roots reggae with a lovers rock lilt and what makes this LP even more special is each track comes with the Dub version, (which reminded me a lot of Aswad’s ‘New Chapter in Dub’s’ similar feel) effectively giving you two LP’s for the price of one. Definitely an LP for any reggae fans collection.

Black_RootsNext up we have the aforementioned Black Roots- ‘On the Ground’ LP, now this is definitely something to be excited over as this the first new material from the band in 20 years and this new incarnation of the band certainly don’t disappoint. The messages within the music are as relevant now as ever, and it makes you realise how closely times today are mirroring what was going on back in the late ’70′s early ’80′s. Cultural and social commentaries and political viewpoints or standpoints are what made punk so relevant, what launched grunge and what gave birth to metal in the first place, and while you might not realise it all music forms its own sub-cultures, genres within the overall banner of music, all of which need to be appreciated in their own right. (Whether you then dismiss them, is down to your personal choice)

Listen to ‘I Believe’ that opens up this release, it’s simply stunning, also take a listen to ‘Pompous Way’, ‘Slavery’ or ‘Militancy’, and then tell me you are not impressed….Go on I dare you. To pick yourself back up during these times of cuts and similar bullshit give ‘Long, Long Ago’ a listen, or “Oh Mamma Africa” a listen, here you have two absolute stunners simply celebrating life. Roll on any upcoming live performances, because this music deserves to be heard in the dancehalls of the world.

Fashion_In_Fine_StyleFinishing up this feature I have to bring something that’s fresh for me, via this release from another of the major reggae labels Fashion, and a compilation called ‘Fashion In Fine Style – Significant Hits Volume 1′. Very much following a blueprint and how reggae has changed and evolved through the ages, my own preference is for the roots style particularly from the early 1980′s, the decade where this collection actually starts with Dee Sharp’s ‘Let’s Dub It Up’. What this LP actually does is take the listener through a voyage of discovery, from an initial lovers rock feel, but then moving in a more roots direction and then further onwards into true dancehall and sound-clash sounds before moving onwards to ragga, even pulling in some jungle remixing, before finishing with some classy dub. I have to admit that sound-clash and ragga is not for me and the jungle stuff lost me a bit, but overall this is a cracking compilation, especially for a starter in the wider genre who has no preference in style, boy what a place to start your reggae collection!

Review by Nev Brooks

Taken from:

The Pigs and Disorder

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The Queens Head Easton Bristol Friday August 3rd LIVE

Rebellion Festival warm up show

New Sister Record Label

Saturday, July 21st, 2012









Sister Labels:

Boys On Tour

Thursday, July 19th, 2012


July 21st – Llangollen, Wales

July 22nd – Secret Garden Party [Rhumba Rum Bar Stage]

Aug 19th – Strummer Of Love Festival [Rootikal Stage]

Aug 26th – Big Top, Bristol [Bristol Archive Records Reggae Show]

Sep 22nd – The Wharf, Tavistock [Supporting The Beat]

13th Dec – Talking Heads, Southampton

Black Roots:

July 21st – Harbourside Festival, Bristol

Aug 3rd – Sardinia Reggae Festival, Italy

Aug 25th – Shambala Festival [Main Stage]

27th Sep – Talking Heads, Southampton

Nov 10th – Malcolm X Centre, St Pauls, Bristol

Joshua Moses:

July 20th – Secret Garden Party [Rhumba Rum Bar Stage]

Aug 19th – Strummer Of Love Festival [Rootikal Stage]

26th Aug - Big Top, Bristol [Bristol Archive Records Reggae Show]

Black Roots – ‘On The Ground’ Album Review

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Garry from SAN PR is always sending through new bands to look at and check out, so when he sent through a copy of On The Ground, the new album from reggae unit Black Roots, I was intrigued to know what was going on. Opening stating it’s not the usual sort of thing that they deal with, I too was a little out of kilter when first checking out the album, but as always, went into it with an open mind to see what was going on. Despite the original line up of the band not being together for over twenty years, the band have managed to get back in the studio and produce a 17 track album which puts them straight back into that Black Roots groove, offering up reggae sounds to accompany the most chilled out moments, whilst charging their message with political and sociological views. I figured the best way to deal with this was to crack on the album, turn up the bass, and see what I thought.

From the opening moments of I Believe there’s one thing clear, this is some seriously funky and groovy reggae style stuff, offering up a chilled out and laid back beat which is going to accompany a sunny afternoon to perfection. Despite the chilled out tones of the track, there’s also a serious message coming across through the lyrical content, keeping you listening to what’s going on and engaging with the band throughout. Pompous Way continues this approach, once again building the track around the elements you’d expect from a reggae track whilst still managing to keep that serious message flowing out of the track. I love the political side to reggae music as I’ve always felt it creates a contrast within the music, almost as a form of peaceful protest against society as it stands. ‘If It No Broke, No Fix It’ echoes out across the track as the key message here, and something which applies to the style of music in question at the same time, showing that when you’re dealing with class, just let the music do the talking for you – and they’ve done it well.

Long Long Ago presents us with a more upbeat approach to things, immediately getting you swaying from the word go and creating a sense of movement throughout the track. Whilst it’s clichéd to say it, this is a track which is going to bring back images of sunshine, white beaches and all things summer. Despite these immediate images in your mind, you’ve got to appreciate the story being told through the track, talking about a time gone by in rural Jamaica and transporting you there to show you what it was like. It’s funny how people always talk about the power of music to take you to a different place, and what you’ve got here is a band who are doing just that with the record, taking you to their place and showing you what life was like and why their views are what they are. Returning to the more serious message, Militancy once again brings back the power of the music as a political tool and shows that reggaes roots are indeed still as firmly rooted as they’ve always been. Layered with simple yet effective guitar lines, deep and meaningful lyrics and that signature slow drum beat, this is another head nodding and mood evoking track which is going to secure these guys a slot as being firmly back on the scene.

Progressing through the tracks through Earth Lan, I Am Flying, Slavery, Oh Mama Africa and Hide Out, each track presents us with that signature reggae approach whilst each time presenting a different view point or perspective, showing that whilst some may perceive reggae as a simple sound, it’s way more complex than first meets the eye. On The Ground comes around as a serious high point on the record, standing out as a track which is going to allow the band to reach an audience that might not usually listen to reggae, presenting a sound which is once again upbeat, full of dance beat tempos and a calm inducing backing melody, all the elements combining to form a track which personally, I’ve listened to repeatedly since getting hold of the album.

Call Me Out, No Fee, Struggle, Landscape and Without Direction each continue to lead you through the album, each time presenting more bass heavy reggae rhythms and layered vocals, forming a melodic and rhythmic sound which is impossible to resist and allowing you the time to simply take in what’s going on here rather than forcing you into doing anything. The laid back brass tones of the reggae sound echo out across the mix, adding depth to the sound and forming a mix which will sooth the mood of anyone who listens, immediately brightening up the mood of all who hear it.

Another serious highpoint on the album is Capitalism, another track which is packed with a message we can’t afford to ignore, showing that there are bands out there who aren’t afraid to comment on the state of society and write music about it. Yes there is a political message but the laid back approach of getting it out there means you don’t feel it’s forced upon you, allowing you to listen to the message, make up your own mind and go from there. The same can be said for the closing moments of Come And Sing, closing the album with a track which leaves things on a high note and your mood in the best possible state. Once again offering up some soft beats, slow tempo reggae beats and jams, the final track on this album asks you to forget the divide in society, and simply join in with the band to sing and enjoy (or that’s what I took from it anyway!). The final track seems to epitomise the band to me, showing that there’s no need to be aggressive or kick off about things, but that simply creating music which sooths and passes on a message is enough.

I didn’t know what I was going to think when Black Roots were first sent through to us, but I’ve loved this album from start to finish. 17 tracks is a hefty album to cover, and sometimes I would struggle to work through each of them – but with this one it was enjoyable listening to every single one on the record. Is this music that’s going to change the world, I don’t know. What I do know though is that this is an album which is going to appeal to existing reggae fans and convert new fans to the band, offering you an album which is going to chill you out, make you think, but most of all, enjoy.

To find out more about Black Roots, check out their Facebook page HERE.

Words: Dave Nicholls

Dubkasm – Coming Soon!

Monday, July 16th, 2012



Released 8th October 2012 on LP (Limited Edition), CD & Digital Download,

through Bristol Archive Records / Shellshock and all digital platforms.

Leading lights in the 21st century UK digi dub/roots scene Dubkasm have built themselves a worldwide following for their brand of reggae since launching their own Sufferah’s Choice label in 2003. What many fans may not realise is that even before that first Sufferah’s Choice release, Dubkasm had nearly a decade’s worth of recordings behind them. Unfortunately, other than a track on the 1996 “Dub Out West Volume Two” compilation album, those early recordings were the preserve of leading UK sound systems such as Aba Shanti and Jah Shaka and could only be heard played off dub plates at dances.

Dubkasm have finally decided that the time is right to share the story of those early years and make a selection of those formerly exclusive tracks available for everyone to enjoy. Being proud of their Bristolian roots, Dubkasm found the perfect partner for the project in Bristol Archive Records and the label’s ongoing programme to document and make available Bristol’s reggae heritage. As if a selection of previously unreleased tracks from Dubkasm wasn’t enough, these particular tracks were all played by leading sound system operator Aba Shanti and the versions were all personally mixed by him to achieve the ideal sound balance on his sound system. Once Dubkasm’s Digistep had finished initial mixes of the tracks, he would deliver the multi track master to Aba Shanti who would then mix down his own exclusive versions.

It’s the Aba Shanti connection that inspired the album’s title, for it was at Aba’s legendary sessions at the Brixton Rec that these tracks could be heard to full effect. The album is named in tribute to those great sessions and hopefully the music captures a bit of that magic as well as bringing back some great memories for those who were there, or even those who were only there in spirit through the medium of sound tapes.

Thanks to DJ Stryda’s long standing Sufferah’s Choice radio show Dubkasm are in contact with many of the scene’s leading players and four of the vinyl’s eight tracks are vocals with contributions from Tena Stelin, “The Soul” and “Spiritual Warrior Time”, the deeply missed Lidj Xylon, “The Order” and Bristol’s own, and Dubkasm regular Ras Addis, “Jah Bible.” Each of the vocals is accompanied by its dub counterpart and each track is UK roots of the highest order.

The CD and download version contain three bonus tracks, a melodica cut to “The Soul”, “106.2FM” a track that captures the vibes as Aba Shanti both mixes and sings live and finally “Earth Rocker” which is actually a recording captured in a dance at Brixton Rec; about as authentic as we could get even if the audio quality leaves a little to be desired. Bristol Archive Records take the story of reggae in the city forward into the 1990s with this essential and previously unreleased selection. complete with sleeve notes, telling the story of Dubkasm’s early years including rare archive photos. “Brixton Rec” is released on Limited Edition Vinyl, CD and digital download October 8th /

Bunny Marrett – Live at Watershed, Bristol, June 28th, 2012

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Here’s the show folks:

Here’s the press release for the album:


Released 18th June 2012 as Vinyl LP (Limited Edition), CD & Digital Download,

through Bristol Archive Records / Shellshock and all digital platforms.

An influential figure on the Bristol reggae scene since the 1970s, Bunny Marrett has been shamefully neglected on record with just two tracks on the A side of a 1981 Shoc Wave 12” his sole output, although his compositions have fared somewhat better having been recorded and released by both Black Roots and Delroy Ogilvie.

Bristol Archive Record’s June 18th release of Bunny’s 1986 recorded album “I’m Free,” should go some way to making up for that oversight. As a bonus, Bunny is accompanied by legendary Bristol band The Startled Insects and equally legendary local jazz drummer Tony Orrell.

Bunny may be a reggae artist, but he is also a jazz lover and with first rate jazz accompaniment, the music they produced is a totally natural fusion of reggae and jazz that more than twenty five years after it was recorded still sounds totally fresh.  It’s naturalness, it’s simplicity and it’s beauty make this music timeless and with an appeal far beyond the traditional reggae market. This is joyful music created by musicians who were obviously having fun and that shines through. There is no artifice in this meeting of Jamaica’s and the United States’ greatest musical gifts, it just works as a perfect blend of styles.

Bunny has been singing since his childhood in Montego Bay and after relocating to Kingston was soon entering talent competitions. Moving to England whilst still in his teens, Bunny continued to sing as well as becoming involved with sound systems. He also embraced the local jazz scene as well as the diverse music of the West Indies including learning to play Piano with Laurel Aitken. Although his profile outside of Bristol may not have been high, by the time he recorded “I’m Free” he was an experienced writer and performer.

When they collaborated with Bunny the, Startled Insects had already made an impact with their first two records on Antenna and were about to be signed by Island. One of the Startled Insects, Richard Lewis, will be well known to fans of Bristol Archive Records as legendary engineer and producer UK Scientist. The remaining band members known as just the Insects, would go on to a very successful career scoring music for film and television, writing for Massive Attack and working with several leading UK acts.

Drummer Tony Orrell is something of a legend in Bristol music circles. In fact, having played with Spirit Level, Sphere, Andy Sheppard and Adrian Utley to name just a few, he’s a hugely respected musician on the UK jazz scene and has often utilised his talents for non jazz artists.

The vinyl LP contains the 1986 album as it was envisioned, four vocals, the uplifting title track “I’m Free”, Bunny’s tribute to Bob Marley with “Jazzy Reggae” making an excellent adaptation of the Wailers original. “Farm Diggin’” inspired by life in rural Jamaica and “Natural Princess” a pure love song, “Jazzy Reggae and “Farm Digging” are accompanied by their versions/dubs. For the CD issue we have added “Times Are Getting Harder” and “Hard Times (dub)” both tracks from Bunny’s Shoc Wave 12”.