Over the past two years there have been several lost reggae albums and tracks by UK groups and artists put out, many of them by the aces over at Bristol Archive Records.
Now a new one has arrived, but this time on LTM Recordings. The release is an album by Manchester reggae band X-O-Dus, started by brothers Wesley (vocals) and Patrick (drums) Ricketts in 1975.
In 1977 they played their first gig, in 1980 they dropped their debut recording and in 1981 they started to fall apart.
Their only released recording was the 12” See Them A’ Come/English Black Boys, two extended tunes commenting on the racial tension within the UK at the time.
The production was helmed by Dennis “Blackbeard” Bovell, with backing vocals by Janet “Silly Games” Kay and surprisingly put out on Factory Records, probably most well-known for their Joy Division releases and not their enthusiasm for reggae. This 12” was also the only reggae release by the label.
The album English Black Boys collects eleven tracks in a reggae, soul and rock vein that criticizes social and economical policy in the UK in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Included are the 12”, seven unreleased demo tracks, a white label dance 12” titled Underwater Dance by Patrick Ricketts under the name of Subsonique + Rico released in 1992 and Narrow Road by a workshop band featuring X-O-Dus rhythm guitarist.
Despite some slight sonic imperfections on the demo tracks the sound quality is surprisingly all right.
The 12” is UK roots reggae of the highest order and the unreleased demo tracks show a band with great potential. The last two tracks – Underwater Dance and Narrow Dance – could however had been left out.
The CD booklet contains archive images, news clippings and excellent liner notes courtesy of their manager Martin Dunlop.