Bristol Archive Records has during the last year or so issued a bunch of heavyweight early UK roots gems, albums and tunes long forgotten, but well worth reissuing.
Their latest finding is Talisman’s debut studio album Takin’ the Strain, originally put out in 1984, and now released with five extra live cuts – one of which is previously unreleased. The CD version also comes with a booklet full of archive images and extensive liner notes based on the recollections of lead vocalist and guitarist Dehvan Othieno Sengor.
Talisman begun their musical journey in 1976 and started out under the name of Revelation Rockers, an outfit who recorded five tunes in the 70’s, actually recently released by Bristol Archive Records under the title Jah Praises.
Revelation Rockers’ set was jam-packed with powerful roots reggae, while Talisman’s debut album leans more towards pop, soul and funk.
Takin’ the Strain hasn’t aged with dignity, mostly due to synthesizer arrangements that expired in the mid 80’s. The funky proto-rap Burn the Bread and the video game sounding I’m Sorry are two tunes best left in the drawer.
Among the 14 tracks there are however several highlights, such as the title track and Ah Wah You Seh, even though I can’t forgive the quirky synthesizers.
The sound quality on the five live workouts isn’t great, but the nine minute long unreleased Slow Poison shows a creative band capable of jamming.
This might not be the best reissue from the Bristol Archive camp, but I celebrate their strive to dig out long lost music, even though some single tunes on this particular album might have been better left forgotten.