Ten piece UK reggae band King Solomon recently dropped their new EP Ceasefire – the follow-up to In the Dragon’s Den – and it’s a bona fide scorcher with its raw and organic sonic landscape paying tribute to great acts like Aswad, Steel Pulse and Black Roots.
Ceasefire is heavyweight roots with striking horns, militant drums and muscular bass lines. Just like other notable UK roots acts they don’t hesitate to tackle difficult issues and subjects like unemployment on album opener Poor Man, conflicts on the title track and police harassment on Officer.
It’s a short set with only six cuts and all are bright shining highlights, but melancholic masterpieces like Kingdom and Carry Me are slightly above the rest. Both comes with clever arrangements and unexpected tempo changes. And the orchestral opening to Carry Me is beautiful like a bright autumn day.
This set comes with very little perfume or make-up. What was recorded in the studio is what you’ll get.
UK roots veterans Paul Fox and Brother Culture have joined forces on a new combination album called Heartical Connection, a ten track set – 20 when adding the ten bonus dubs – that is slightly different than expected.
You have the usual ground-shaking bass lines and intense keys, but Heartical Connection also includes a few more lightweight and catchy cuts. Good Time is a joyous and bright celebration of life and the title track is mellow and summery with breezy keys and infectious guitar. The only thing hinting about these roots stalwarts are the added effects.
Then there’s Seat of God. Probably the greatest surprise. It’s an ethereal dancehall version of Amazing Grace with an angelic chorus and mean and lean toasts from Brother Culture in the verses.
Paul Fox and Brother Culture have a good chemistry and complement each other very well – Paul Fox with his dramatic and light singing style and Brother Culture with his stylish delivery.
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.
UK-based producer Frenchie of Maximum Sound has once again joined forces with renowned producer and mixing engineer Russ Disciples for another set of devastating slices of UK roots and dub.
Together the duo operates the Calabash imprint, a label devoted to hardcore UK roots, steppers and dub. And that is precisely what Calabash Selection Vol. 2 and its counterpart Calabash Dub Vol. 2 offer.
All tracks on the albums are played and mixed by Russ Disciples at his Backyard Studios. Some of the material have been previously released on vinyl, but the majority of the mixes differ from the originals. A couple of the riddims are also different compared to the previously released ones.
Fans of Maximum Sound and Russ Disciples will be pleased with this compilation. Russ Disciples has reworked several lethal Maximum Sound originals, including Tarrus Riley’s excellent Chant Rastafari, Luciano’s Perilous Times, on which he showcases some nice deejay skills, and Yami Bolo’s passionate Jah is the Fire.
The two albums doesn’t fully correspond with each other since the dub version has eleven and not nine cuts, but that won’t stop you from creating your own wicked showcase album using Spotify or iTunes.
In 2013 legendary UK reggae band Capital Letters got back together after an about 30 year long hiatus. They have since recorded a new album – Wolverhampton – released earlier this year. But their earlier material has also been reissued. Reality – an effort collecting 15 tracks originally recorded in 1985 – dropped in 2014 and their debut album Headline News has also been made available again.
Now it’s time for yet another reissue. Vinyard is Capital Letters’ second album and it was recorded and released in small quantities and with poor distribution in 1982. The new edition collects the original ten tracks along with unreleased material taken from the Headline News sessions and a few live studio recordings.
Capital Letters formed in 1972 and is probably best known for their raw and lyrically controversial single Smoking My Ganja and the band was among the first wave of talented reggae acts to emerge in the UK during the mid-to-late 70s. These bands absorbed the sounds of Jamaica and created their own take on reggae. Many of these acts strived for social change singing about the society around them, which was often marked by violence, racism and social inequality.
Vinyard is a prime example of UK roots with its many reality tales and Capital Letters deal with false politicians, unemployment and struggle set to tough drum and bass along with a pumping organ.
This album is rawer than its predecessor and it captures the sound of early UK roots nicely. The CD version comes with in-depth sleeve notes by renowned reggae writer John Masouri and you can read why Capital Letters have renamed Helsinki to Hell Sink I.
UK quartet RasItes dropped their debut album Urban Regeneration in 2001 and then vanished from the scene. Seven years later – in 2008 – a second set was put out. This time on a new label.
Now – twelve years after the debut album – RasItes is back with another release, this time in the form of a four track EP titled Reason Time. It’s said to be the first of two EPs to be put out prior to a third full-lenght set.
Reason Time offers captivating and conscious roots reggae in classic UK tradition, think Aswad, Steel Pulse, Misty in Roots and Black Slate. Maybe RasItes is a bit more rock influenced though, especially on EP opener Drum & Bass Line, which includes sharp rock guitar.
There have been several rock solid EPs in past months – Christopher Ellis and Wayne Marshall for example – and Reason Time is no exception. Looking forward to hear more from these talentented Rastafarians.
When talking about vintage UK roots reggae, groups such as Aswad, Steel Pulse and Misty in Roots usually come up. One of my all time favorite UK roots reggae outfits from the 70’s or early 80’s is however Bristol’s Black Roots, a group whose debut album from 1983 includes eight rock solid tunes.
Last year British label Bristol Archive Records teamed up with Black Roots’ own Nubian Records in order to drop the critically acclaimed Black Roots – The Reggae Singles Anthology, a set collecting several immensely strong tracks.
Now Bristol Archive Records have once more been allowed into the Black Roots/Nubian tape vaults.
This time it’s about a 25th anniversary deluxe CD edition of the group’s fourth album All Day All Night, a set where they teamed up with Mad Professor and moving away from their original sound for a more polished version, embracing new technology and production techniques to present a more – at the time – contemporary UK sound.
The music may have been brought up to date, but the lyrics concerned the same themes of social and historical justice that define the roots genre.
All Day All Night originally included twelve tunes, and this deluxe edition adds another six – five dub versions and an extended 12” mix of Pin in the Ocean.
All Day All Night is certainly worth reissuing, even if it sounds a bit more dated than their earlier and more roots oriented material. But even if lavish synthesizers are overused on some tracks, you can’t go wrong with the breezy nonchalant vocals in Realize or the mighty horn riff in Pin in the Ocean.
Bristol Archive Records have as usual paid attention to detail and to complement the re-mastered music, the booklet includes many previously unpublished photos of the band.
Available now on CD and digital download.