Several roots reggae outfits in the UK have reunited in recent years. Black Roots in 2012 and Talisman 2013. Both bands also managed to put out strong albums.
Another UK reggae band that was originally formed in the 70s and recently reunited is Black Slate. This London-based band started out by backing visiting Jamaican giants like Ken Boothe, Dennis Brown and Delroy Wilson. Between 1979 and 1985 they dropped seven albums as well as a signature hit – Amigo, a track that managed to reach top ten on the UK singles chart.
Midnight is their ninth album and the first album in almost 20 years. It was released earlier this year with only a few taking notice I believe.
The album features eleven tracks, of which two are dub excursions. The audio quality is unfortunately below par and a number of tracks sound plastic and dull, especially a romancing cut like Your Love.
There are however a few gems here. No Justices for the Poor borrows from Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry in the chorus, which makes it rather cathcy and memorable, and Incidents almost sounds like Dennis Brown in his prime.
A decent album, but not nearly as great as the sets from other recently reunited UK reggae bands.
Yet another long-lost reggae treasure has been dug out by the heroes at Reggae Archive/Bristol Archive Records. This time it’s a lost album from Errol Bellot, sometimes described as one of the best kept secrets on the UK reggae scene with a career spanning some 30 years.
The story starts when the label had an idea of compiling a best of package, but discovered an entire unreleased album Errol Bellot had recorded in collaboration with Jah Bunny from Matumbi and Ras Elroy from Black Slate in the 80s.
They were given full access to the session tapes recorded between 1983 and 1985 and selected 15 vocals, dubs and extended discomixes to which Errol Bellot’s first self-production, The Wicked Them, which is sequenced together with its previously unreleased dub version, and Rootsman, originally released on a scarce 10” in 2006, were added.
The bulk of the tracks on Youthman – The Lost Album have the raw and untamed feel of dubplate mixes with heavy emphasis on the bass line giving the speakers a real Usain Bolt like workout pushing the woofers to the very limit.
A majority of the tunes were recorded on four track and the audio quality is sometimes below par. And same goes for parts of Errol Bellot’s Michael Prophet-influenced singing, which is at times terribly off-key. But most of the material is strong and leans heavily towards conscious and serious roots, with bright gems such as the aforementioned The Wicked Them and the bouncy Rockers.
It’s a mystery why this album was not originally issued in the mid 80s when it was recorded. Maybe it didn’t fit in at the time or maybe it was simply about financing. Good thing is that it has now finally seen the light of day.
Available now on nine track LP or 17 track CD and digital download.