A new reggae compilation from Bristol Archive Records documents the western part of the UK’s reggae scene in the late 70s up until the end of the 80s.
Bristol Roots Explosion draws heavily on two previously released compilation – The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983 and it’s slightly newer follow-up The Bristol Reggae Explosion 2 – The 1980s. And all but two cuts are from those albums.
The new additions include The Rhythmites’ uptempo Nation Integration – available on their recently reissued album Integration – and the super rare single Ethiopia Revelation by Big Roy, one of the first Bristol reggae artists to be recorded. As his name suggest he is heavily inspired by both I Roy and Big Youth and judging by the sound its producer obviously liked Augustus Clarke.
The most well-known act on Bristol Roots Explosion is probably Talisman, and they are featured with the single mix of Dole Age, but they also make a second appearance with Culture, but this track was recorded when they called themselves Revelation Rockers.
The best cut on this compilation is however Restriction’s pulsating and funky Calling For Mercy complete with superb verses by an uncredited deejay that rides the riddim like the stylistically superior Lone Ranger.
The Bristol Roots Explosion is leaner and meaner compared to both volumes of The Bristol Reggae Explosion. It focuses on raw and unpolished roots.
Black Roots are one of my all time favourite UK reggae bands. Their sound is in the same great tradition as Aswad, Misty in Roots and Steel Pulse – heavy as lead bass lines, groove and clear melodies. And Black Roots were apparently part of the Bristol reggae scene, a music scene that is now put on wax by Bristol Archive Records.
The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983 is according to the label the first and only attempt to document the local reggae scene from the late 70’s and early 80’s.
According to Bristol Archive Records none of the tunes – except for the Black Roots tunes – have ever been reissued and this is their debut in digital format.
It was certainly a long overdue deed. This is a historical document that includes great music and very informative liner notes about the Bristol reggae scene and the bands and artists that appear on the compilation.
Roots reggae dominates the 14 tracks by eight bands and artists and there are several highlights here.
Four Point Plan, by a band called Restriction that only released one four track twelve inch in 1983 mixed and engineered by Mad Professor at his Ariwa Studio in London, is a deejay lead masterpiece with some nice dub echoing going on.
Black Roots and Talisman are represented by three tracks each; two of Talisman’s are live recordings. All six are classic UK roots with solid brass arrangements.
Sharon Bengamin’s Mr Guy is lovers rock in the Janet Kay tradition and keeps things sweet and smooth.
Today DJ Stryda of Dubkasm keeps the Bristol reggae flag flying high, and this compilation shows that he has a firm foundation to rely on.