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Birmingham trip today

Great trip back to Birmingham today – working on The Midlands Roots Explosion Vol Two and Three. We met Paul from Senator, Symbol from Black Symbol, Robin from Friendly Fire Band – here’s a pic with Tanni from Groundation ( More news soon on Groundation material from back in the day)

United Reggae Review of The Midlands Roots Explosion

Sugar Shack records have been trading since 1985. So they sure took their time before releasing this treasure trove of sweet sounds. The main achievement of ‘THE MIDLANDS ROOTS EXPLOSION’ Volume 1 is that it leaves you lusting for Volume 2. It’s that good.

The Midlands Roots Explosion Volume OneReggae Archive Records and Sugar Shack undertook an eagled eyed survey of middle England’s bygone era to compile this collage of classic clips. It’s set when some first dared to sing with pride about their roots and culture. This was not an entirely popular choice on the part of a minority in a foreign land. In fact, it may still not be an entirely popular choice in contemporary general election gripped Britain.

The set opens with Steel Pulse’s daring ‘Kibudu-Mansatta-Abuku’, in both original and instrumental formats. Oozing with roots credibility, this is exactly what made the band’s name a beacon thereafter. Then comes ‘Redemption Day’ by Man From The Hills and ‘Blood Fi Dem’ by Eclipse, with themes of righteousness and giving thanks and praise featuring heavily.

I always thought that Musical Youth (of ‘Pass the Dutchie’ fame) were some kind tutored novelty act. But hearing the fifth track ‘Political’ – changed that. It’s fantastic lively score pleading ‘we want work, politicians give our children a chance’. The lead vocal (of Fred Waite) splits the air here, before the ladies come stomping in via Sceptre’s ‘Ancestors Calling’. It’s so sweet it’s hard to believe there’s a political message therein. But no mistaking it when Benjamin Zephaniah lets rip with ‘Unite Handsworth’ – a pounding political preacher with lyrics adorned by righteous roots music. Great sounds and great messages prevail.

Then Oneness strike out with a deadly beat on the future of ‘Rome’, before Sugar Shack’s favoured Black Symbol slide in with a spiritually spacey ‘In The Name Of Jah’. Groundation’s lengthy ‘Fa-ward’ offers spiritual and political direction before the lovely brass embellished Mystic Foundation’s female lead vocalist chills the blood on ‘Instruments’ – that is ‘the instruments they used to kill us in Africa’ – another truly top take on this album.

The high standard is maintained with Iganada’s ‘Slow Down’ space-age sound backdrop, warning of the perils of too much pace in proceedings in a world of spirituality and magic – ‘live upright’ is the message and flying saucers is the musical image! But no problem, because Capital Letters ‘I Will Never’ brings you back to earth with a bump, promising to ‘never turn my back on you Jah’, set to a slower but still grounded roots reggae rhythm. The penultimate piece is the higher pitched Carnastoan’s ‘Mr. Workhard’ , before Zephaniah slows down the pace via ‘Free Man’, bringing this classic compilation – from the black dispossessed of middle-England 1970s and 80s era – to a close.

This album’s content both easily compares with and shows some influence on todays’ practitioners and pacesetters – from Alborosie to Protoje. Occasionally you get a good track or two on a compilation. But this issue is packed with sugar and spice and too many things nice.

The main drawback to this sometimes vibrant, sometimes moody, often rebellious and all the while seductively soothing CD, digital and double vinyl issue is that it ends after 15 tracks. I am really looking forward to Volume 2.

Full page review in The Wire for The Midlands Roots

Vive le Rock album review

Video link – The Midlands Roots Explosion Vol One

The Midlands Roots Explosion Vol One teaser video. Featuring Jean McLean and Rankin Bev from Sceptre. The 2 x LP, CD and Download will be released on June 29th via Reggae Archive Records

https://youtu.be/p4gyNnL62c8

Record Collector 5 STAR REVIEW

The Midlands Roots Explosion Vol One

Chris Lane in the house – Bristol Styley

Alex Bartsch

Check this photographer out:http://www.alexbartsch.com/covers/cockney-translation

Fashion Records back in the day

The Midlands Roots Explosion album review

PURE HONEY FROM THE SUGAR SHACK
By Gerry McMahon

Sugar Shack records have been trading since 1985. So they sure took their time before releasing this treasure trove of sweet sounds. The main achievement of ‘THE MIDLANDS ROOTS EXPLOSION’ Volume 1 is that it leaves you lusting for Volume 2. It’s that good.
Reggae Archive Records and Sugar Shack undertook an eagled eyed survey of middle England’s bygone era to compile this collage of classic clips. It’s set when some first dared to sing with pride about their roots and culture. This was not an entirely popular choice on the part of a minority in a foreign land. In fact, it may still not be an entirely popular choice in contemporary general election gripped Britain.

The set opens with Steel Pulse’s daring ‘Kibudu-Mansatta-Abuku’, in both original and instrumental formats. Oozing with roots credibility, this is exactly what made the band’s name a beacon thereafter. Then comes ‘Redemption Day’ by Man From The Hills and ‘Blood Fi Dem’ by Eclipse, with themes of righteousness and giving thanks and praise featuring heavily.
I always thought that Musical Youth (of ‘Pass the Dutchie’ fame) were some kind tutored novelty act. But hearing the fifth track ‘Political’ – changed that. It’s fantastic lively score pleading ‘we want work, politicians give our children a chance’. The lead vocal (of Fred Waite) splits the air here, before the ladies come stomping in via Sceptre’s ‘Ancestors Calling’. It’s so sweet it’s hard to believe there’s a political message therein. But no mistaking it when Benjamin Zephaniah lets rip with ‘Unite Handsworth’ – a pounding political preacher with lyrics adorned by righteous roots music. Great sounds and great messages prevail.
Then Oneness strike out with a deadly beat on the future of ‘Rome’, before Sugar Shack’s favoured Black Symbol slide in with a spiritually spacey ‘In The Name Of Jah’. Groundation’s lengthy ‘Fa-ward’ offers spiritual and political direction before the lovely brass embellished Mystic Foundation’s female lead vocalist chills the blood on ‘Instruments’ – that is ‘the instruments they used to kill us in Africa’ – another truly top take on this album.

The high standard is maintained with Iganada’s ‘Slow Down’ space-age sound backdrop, warning of the perils of too much pace in proceedings in a world of spirituality and magic – ‘live upright’ is the message and flying saucers is the musical image! But no problem, because Capital Letters ‘I Will Never’ brings you back to earth with a bump, promising to ‘never turn my back on you Jah’, set to a slower but still grounded roots reggae rhythm. The penultimate piece is the higher pitched Carnastoan’s ‘Mr. Workhard’ , before Zephaniah slows down the pace via ‘Free Man’, bringing this classic compilation – from the black dispossessed of middle-England 1970s and 80s era – to a close.
This album’s content both easily compares with and shows some influence on todays’ practitioners and pacesetters – from Alborosie to Protoje. Occasionally you get a good track or two on a compilation. But this issue is packed with sugar and spice and too many things nice.

The main drawback to this sometimes vibrant, sometimes moody, often rebellious and all the while seductively soothing CD, digital and double vinyl issue is that it ends after 15 tracks. I am really looking forward to Volume 2.

www.reggaearchiverecords.com

The Complete Handsworth Explosion

‘BLACK SYMBOL presents The Complete Handsworth Explosion’
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Released on CD and Digital Download 29th June 2015

To preorder follow the link:

https://reggaearchiverecords.bandcamp.com/album/black-symbol-presents-the-complete-handsworth-explosion


Last year saw Reggae Archive Records answer the prayers of many UK reggae fans with vinyl reissues of “Black Symbol presents Handsworth Explosion” and “Black Symbol present Handsworth Explosion II”. It was always intended to follow these LP releases with a combined CD release of both volumes and the 29th June, will see the albums arrive on CD for the first time as “Black Symbol Presents The Complete Handsworth Explosion”.

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of what Black Symbol did for their local community, in Birmingham’s Handsworth neighbourhood, by providing bands with studio time at the well equipped Outlaw Studio and then releasing many of the finished results on the two original vinyl LPs. They have left us with a unique snapshot of the Handsworth scene in the early eighties; a scene that was at its creative peak but would very soon almost entirely disappear.

Black Symbol member Blobbo stated their aims on the rear sleeve of “Handsworth Explosion Volume II”:….. “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.”

It’s never too late to discover talent and hopefully this CD release will indeed open the eyes and hearts of many to the great bands and singers featured: Sceptre, Zephaniah, Truths And Rights, Gerald Love, Mystic Foundation, Benjamin Zephaniah, Black Knight, Man From the Hills and last, but by no means least, Black Symbol themselves. The music is mostly roots reggae, but the tracks also provide a great deal of variety whilst maintaining a high quality threshold.

Back in the early 1980s, Black Symbol faced an uphill struggle to get their albums distributed and few people who lived outside Birmingham or near a specialist reggae shop ever got the chance to buy a copy and hear this wonderful music. Today with the World Wide Web, “Black Symbol presents The Complete Handsworth Explosion” is finally available for everyone to enjoy.

“Black Symbol presents The Complete Handsworth Explosion” is released by Reggae Archive Records on 20 track CD and digital download on the 29th June and is available from all the usual outlets.

ARTIST: Various Artists
TITLE: “Black Symbol presents The Complete Handsworth Explosion”
RELEASE DATE: 29th June 2015
LABEL: Reggae Archive Records
DISTRIBUTION: Shellshock / SRD
FORMAT: CD and Digital Download
CAT NO: RARC018CD
BARCODE: 5052571060926
GENRE: Reggae, Dub
WEBSITE: www.reggaearchiverecords.com

Tracklisting:

1. Sceptre – Ancestors Calling
2. Truths & Rights – New Language
3. Black Symbol – Travelling
4. Gerald Love – Jah Children
5. Zephaniah – Music Business
6. Truths & Rights – Saddest Moment
7. Black Symbol – Spiritual Reggae
8. Gerald Love – Scandal Man
9. Sceptre – Living On Strong
10. Zephaniah – Free Man
11. Benjamin Zephaniah – Stop The War
12. Man From The Hills – Redemption Day
13. Mystic Foundation – Life In The Ghetto
14. Black Symbol – Feeling Is Irie
15. Black Knight – Lets Make Up
16. Black Symbol – Trouble Trouble
17. Benjamin Zephaniah – Unite Handsworth
18. Man From The Hills – How Long
19. Mystic Foundation – Handsworth
20. Black Knight – Feeling