Last year Reggae Archive Records put out the compilation The Midlands Roots Explosion, a critically acclaimed set uncovering reggae from the British Midlands. Now another volume in the series has been released.
The Midlands Roots Explosion Volume Two collects more of the same and offers an equally strong selection of unreleased cuts, scarce gems and readily available material. The collection shines light on some of UK’s finest, yet most overlooked, singers and bands showcasing themes of struggle, resistance, justice and equality.
Five of the 15 tracks are from bands making their debut in the series and it starts off just as its predecessor with Steel Pulse. Their rocking Bun Dem was originally released in 1977 and is a slice of classic British roots deserving far wider attention than the original 7″ has received.
Another strong cut is Musical Youth’s pulsating General. It certainly shows that this outfit was far more militant than their monster hit Pass the Dutchie.
This is British roots reggae at its roughest and fines. Luckily it’s Reggae Archive Records intent to put out enough volumes to properly document the stories of the bands, singers, musicians and labels in the Midlands. So stay tuned – more to come.
The British Midlands is an area spanning central England and its largest city is Birmingham, a town that has produced several successful reggae bands, including Steel Pulse, Musical Youth and UB40.
Reggae Archive Records now aims to spotlight this area and its importance in reggae history. The Midlands Roots Explosion Volume One is the first in a series of compilations that will showcase some of the unreleased, forgotten and barely known musical gems from the vibrant Midlands scene.
The set kicks off with Steel Pulse, a band that put Birmingham on the musical map. Their first release – the scarce Kibudu – Mansatta – Abuku – was originally released in 1976 and is a fine slice of raw UK roots and hints at what was about to come.
The other 14 tracks are in the same deep and spiritual vein. Musical Youth is best remembered for their successful and lightweight Pass the Dutchie, which was a top hit around the world. Political, included here, is something completely else. Fredrick Waite Sr, formerly with The Techniques, sings lead on this uncompromising roots effort from 1981.
Capital Letters also show a different side of their musical spectrum. I Will Never showcase a darker side compared to their hit single Smoking My Ganja. It’s slow and dread celebrating their faith in Jah.
The Midlands Roots Explosion Volume One shines light on Birmingham and other cities that make up the Midlands as well as putting forward some of the lesser known acts that spent years performing and recording without achieving any level of success. The area was certainly a powerhouse of British reggae and this compilation includes many tracks worthy of far wider exposure.