Earlier this year, a to me previously unheard of label caught my attention. Bristol Archive Records was the name of the label and the release was the worthwhile various artists’ compilation The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983. That 14 track set showcased the early reggae talents in Bristol, a city probably best known in the music industry for artists such as Massive Attack and Portishead.
Following the success of that album Bristol Archive Records have dug deeper into the city’s reggae heritage for the follow-up – Bristol Reggae Explosion Volume 2 – The 1980’s.
This album is in the same vein as the previous with a bunch of rare releases. But there are some notable exceptions. Several tracks are previously unreleased and it also includes a greater dub content. As the title indicates, the sound is also somewhat different compared to the rugged first version.
Bristol’s leading reggae band was, and maybe still is, Black Roots. They are represented with two tunes – the heavyweight roots piece The Father and the more commercial bubbling Pin in the Ocean, a tune produced by Mad Professor.
The other 13 tracks are by more or less unknown singers and bands. Some of them were featured on The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983. Joshua Moses, The Radicals and 3-D Production are for instance familiar.
Rise Up from Joshua Moses is rough UK roots at its best and it’s a mystery why this has been unreleased until now. Same goes for Alfred McIntosh’s seven minute dub exercise Wicked Dub.
Throughout the album you can follow the shift in the music’s direction – from unpolished and rough-edged to slick and sultry with more technology instead of live instrumentation.
Bristol Archive Records has once again managed to put together a stellar compilation with material I didn’t know I needed.
Bristol Reggae Explosion Volume 2 – The 1980’s is available on CD, digital download and as limited edition eight track vinyl with insert.