Bristol Archive Records Blog

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 3 – Killa Review


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


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