In retrospect it’s interesting to note which albums that broke big and which didn’t. It often has to do with financing; distribution and marketing. Or maybe the circumstances surrounding the release weren’t right. Or the market wasn’t ready for the sound. Or the sound was regarded as outdated at the time.
The latter may have been at least one of the problems why Sceptre’s debut Essence of Redemption Ina Dif’rent Styley didn’t break at the time of its release. The interest for deep roots reggae in the mid-80s wasn’t huge. Dancehall and slick lovers rock ruled the scene at the time.
Fortunately the reggae champions over at Reggae Archive Records have a mission to reissue long lost UK roots dating from the late 70s to the mid-80s. And they have now dusted off this gem.
Sceptre was founded in 1981 in Birmingham and dropped Essence of Redemption Ina Dif’rent Styley in 1984. It’s a strong set with six out of ten tracks being essential early UK roots. Get up And Go is more on a funky tip, while the three remaining cuts lean more toward lovers rock with Jean McLean singing lead vocals.
It’s certainly a versatile set that has stood the test of time.
Birmingham-based singer Jean McLean was in the 80s part of Sceptre, an overlooked reggae act that dropped their poorly distributed debut album Essence of Redemption Ina A Dif’rent Styley in 1984.
She dropped her debut album Everlasting two years ago, but apparently it didn’t sell too well and it’s now reissued by Sugar Shack Records. It’s more or less the same album, but with one huge difference – the track Ancestors, a cut originally recorded by Sceptre and included on the rare compilation Handsworth Revolution Vol. 1. The original is a strong roots piece and this new version is even better and a standout track on Everlasting. The deejay parts are espacially tasty and I hope she explores that talent on future releases.
Everlasting is produced and engineered by Paul Horton, who has been Grammy nominated for his work with Steel Pulse and Pato Banton. One of his most recent reggae efforts is however Black Symbol’s excellent Journey, released earlier this year.
This catchy set collects nine vocals, of which seven are originals and two are covers – Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain and Dennis Brown’s Things in Life. It also collects seven dubby instrumentals mixed by Paul Horton.
It’s an album leaning much towards romance and classic love songs, for example album opener Meant 4 U and swinging, yet a bit too synthetic, Love Me Baby.
Another highlight is the anthemic Reggaebaby, an infectious tune reminiscent of Brina’s recent Real Reggae Music or John Holt’s Reggae From the Ghetto.
A set well-worth seeking out for fans of mature and timeless reggae music.