‘Smoking My Ganja’ (Rootikal Remix EP)
With a revived Capital Letters once more performing sell out shows across Europe and the enthusiastic reception afforded to their “Reality” album released by Reggae Archive Records at the start of the year, we decided to give their fans old and new something special with the release of a brand new 12” EP.
The recordings are from the same 1985 session that gave us the “Reality” album and feature remixes of two songs that will be familiar to anyone who has that album, “Smoking My Ganja” and “Reality”. When we went back to the session tapes, we discovered an additional track that wasn’t available for the album and that track ‘Housebreaker’ makes its debut here.
Who better to take charge of remix duties than Reggae Archive’s regular collaborator, Rootikal’s David Hill with engineering and studio space provided by UK reggae legend Nick Manasseh. They took the original multi tracks and welded them into sound system anthems. You could imagine these new mixes would have been cut on a hundred dub plates if the tracks had been finished and mixed this way back in ’85.
We kick proceedings off with “Smoking My Ganja”, a track transformed from the familiar commercial anthem we all know and stripped of its pop sensibilities, the bass driven gritty roots monster that always lurked beneath is finally unleashed. Propelled by a foreboding bass line the vocal is darker and rootsier. It conjures up the claustrophobia of those dark, smoke filled sound sessions of a past age, hundreds of people each locked into their own individual bass cocoon. The dub plate mix with its urgent, heavy oppressive bass really does reinvent the anthem, it’s now hypnotic and relentless, and a lost Shaka special that never was. For the drum and bass mix it’s back to basics with the song pared down to the essentials and yet remaining totally riveting. The whole side is addictive and plays like one long disco mix, Rootikal has achieved the rare feet of improving upon a well loved classic.
“Housebreaker” is as heavy as its name suggests with these heavy, heavy mixes, forget breaking into a house you could literally demolish it. Pounding away with jackhammer bass and wrecking ball drums, this pair conjure up proper early eighties dub vibes. The dark arts of proper dub mixing haven’t been lost in the digital age, they’ve just been waiting for the right moment and here, spread across the two mixes are nine minutes of right moments.
“Reality” was a highlight of the album that bears it’s name and a tune well deserving of two more cuts from the skilful hands of David Hill and Nick Manasseh. The vocal is proper old school British Roots Reggae at its finest, another lost art that is finally making a most welcome comeback with the reformed Capital Letters in the vanguard. The record is perfectly rounded off with an excellent dub counterpart that maintains the consistent high standard of the earlier tracks; this EP is strictly killer with absolutely no filler.
Capital Letters “Smoking My Ganja” (The Rootikal Remix EP) is released on Reggae Archive Records on the 7th of July 2014 on high quality vinyl and digital download, available from all leading stockists.
ARTIST: Capital Letters
TITLE: Smoking My Ganja (Rootikal Remix EP)
RELEASE DATE: 7th July 2014
LABEL / DISTRIBUTION: Sugar Shack Records / Shellshock
FORMAT: Vinyl EP / Mini Album and Digital Download
CAT NO / BARCODE: RARC013V / 5052571055618
IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM CAPITAL LETTERS
Due to circumstances completely outside of the control of Capital Letters the gig at the Attic Bar in Bristol tonight the 8th Feb has had to be postponed. We apoligise to all our fans who were planning to travel.
‘Black Symbol presents Handsworth Explosion 11’ – For Record Store Day 2014
Various Artists – Released 19th April 2014 – Ltd Edition Vinyl
Black Symbol were always more than a reggae band and although they released their own music on their Black Symbol label, they wanted to support other talented artists in their community and so without any outside help, they used their own money to record, release and distribute two compilations of music from Birmingham’s Handsworth area.
The aim of these compilation albums was summed up on the back of “Handsworth Explosion Volume 11”: “Handsworth Explosion is a brand new revolutionary idea originated by ‘FATMAN’ the producer, lead vocalist and founder member of BLACK SYMBOL. The intention of this album is to provide a much needed link between Symbol and other Ghetto bands, to reveal, an as yet, undiscovered talent suppressed by the music machine. The Handsworth Explosion shall open up the eyes and hearts of many, yet it shall explode in the minds of many; this combination of music can only be played in the Ghetto by musicians who live in and bear the weight of their society. Handsworth Explosion sets out not only to satisfy musically, but be an inspiration and revelation.”
This was indeed underground music and it was pretty much ignored by the mainstream when it was released in very small numbers, but for those lucky enough to have found the records, their hearts were indeed opened up to the music within.
Now, more than thirty years after the music was recorded, Reggae Archive Records are delighted to have teamed up with Fatman and have licensed the entire Black Symbol back catalogue as well as releasing the new Black Symbol album “Journey” on our sister label Sugar Shack Records. We plan a comprehensive reissue campaign throughout the coming year, including a combined CD release for both volumes of “Handsworth Explosion”, but to kick things off we are doing a very limited vinyl edition of “Handsworth Explosion 11” for Record Store Day 2014.
Musically, this is a straight reissue with the same 10 tracks from Black Symbol, Benjamin Zephaniah, Mystic Foundation, Man from the Hills and Black Knight, a musical time capsule of talent from inner city Birmingham at the start of the 1980s, a very different time but one that still resonates today.
One thing we have changed is the sleeve design, with Fatman’s blessing and in keeping with the original; we have commissioned a new illustration from Nick Darby and hopefully rectified the one weakness of the original release.
This slice of Handsworth reggae, Birmingham reggae, and British reggae has always deserved wider exposure and it’s a real privilege for Reggae Archive Records to team up with Fatman and ensure the music reaches a new worldwide audience, an audience that it always deserved.
With original copies rarely appearing and fetching three figures, this is a great opportunity to grab an affordable new copy of one of the rarest UK reggae albums and something that will appeal to all fans of roots reggae. “Handsworth Explosion Volume 11” will be available from participating retailers on Record Store Day 2014, April 19th in a strictly limited edition, it won’t be repressed again on vinyl.
ARTIST: Various Artists
TITLE: ‘Black Symbol presents Handsworth Explosion 11’
RELEASE DATE: 19th April 2014
LABEL / DISTRIBUTION: Reggae Archive Records / Shellshock
FORMAT: Strictly Limited Edition LP
CAT NO / BARCODE: RARC012V – 5052571055014
DOWNLOAD LINK (For review purposes only):
PRESS CONTACT: Mike Darby, E: email@example.com T: 07885 498 402