Tag Archives: Dennis Bovell

General Roots walks tall on debut album

600x600bb-85Six piece London-based reggae band General Roots dropped their debut EP The First Attack back in 2013, a five track set that went straight to number two on the UK iTunes Reggae Album Chart.

After touring heavily they have now finally completed their debut album Walk Tall, which collects guest appearances from Top Cat, Horseman and Dennis Bovell, who has also been involved in composing.

Walk Tall is an instant grabber with its infectious melodies and gentle, yet pulsating, vibes. Highlights include the smooth Little Sun with its melancholic horns and beautiful harmonies, Fight For Ya Loving, which includes some killer flying cymbals drumming, and roaring Wrong Road, which comes with a Big Youth-like toast from Dennis Bovell.

Since their debut EP jumped directly to the second spot on the UK Reggae Chart, it wouldn’t be no big surprise if this album managed to at least conquer the same position.

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Dennis Bovell gives his vintage catalogue a dubwise treatment

The latest album release on the Pressure Sounds label is not the ordinary reissue. On Mek it Run UK musician, producer, arranger, singer and sound engineer Dennis Bovell has selected rare vintage titles from his archive for a brand new dubwise treatment. Put it simply – it’s new mixes of vintage tracks.

Dennis Bovell is perhaps the most interesting and versatile reggae musician from the UK ever. He has worked with lovers rock, heavy roots, dub, soul, punk and even produced an album with legendary Nigerian afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

Mek it Run contains 16 cuts originally recorded in the 70’s and early 80’s with renowned musicians Drummie Zeb, Tony Gad, Jah Bunny and John Kpiaye. The new mixes were done over at Mad Professor’s studio because, as it is stated in the CD booklet with words by Steve Barker, “he knew the Professor had every gadget under the sun” and he also wanted to use “a whole range of outboard gear from old analogue to the latest digital sets.”

The imaginative mixes feels and sounds like they were done in the 70’s, and 14 of the tracks contain little or no vocals. The other two are I Roy vocal tracks, of which one – Burden – is a version of the gospel standard Down by the Riverside. Of course the album also features its dub companion Cross to Bear.

Dennis Bovell’s and I Roy’s relation started in the late 70’s when the deejay visited UK and toured with Matumbi, Dennis Bovell’s band at the time. Together they recorded the early reggae/rap album Whap’n Bap’n for Virgin, and Mek it Run collects the dub version of the title track titled Dub d’Cap’n.

Mek it Run contains lots of effects, sampled sounds and a beautiful sonic landscape and presents Dennis Bovell right up there with his Jamaican contemporaries such as King Tubby, Prince Jammy and Errol Thompson.

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Another lost reggae treasure released

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.

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