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Errol Bellot - Youthman

Errol Bellot - Youthman

Errol Bellot - Youthman

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A historical artefact from an album-under-represented artist.

Sampler

Errol Bellot is one of the UK’s most consistent and captivating roots reggae singers. Over 30 years he has voiced haunting hard-hitting singles for labels such as East London’s S&G and Jah Tubbys, and more recently Reading’s Reality Shock.

For various reasons, Errol did not put out a full length album until 2012. However, as demonstrated this welcome release by Reggae Archive Records – a wider arm of Mike Darby’s Bristol Archive Records – he did have at least one crucial LP project in the works back in the 1980s that never saw the light of day.

Errol Bellot - Youthman'Youthman' was produced and arranged between 1983 and 1985 by two cream musicians of the era – drummer Lloyd “Jah Bunny” Donaldson of Matumbi and bassist Ras Elroy Bailey of Black Slate. 16 tracks have been selected from the masters by Archive, with some stitching of vocals to dubs by Dave Hill (of London’s Rootikal night and label) at the Essex studio of Conscious Sounds’ Dougie Wardrop. One composition external to the original tapes has been added, Errol’s self-produced The Wicked Dem – which seems slightly cleaner than the rest. It heads up a 17-strong showcase that reggae historians won’t want to miss.

As per Bristol Archive Records previous work with Black Roots, we are reminded despite the sound system mc revolution going on in the UK at the time, roots music was still in play. Yet this roots music was not untouched by what was coming over via sound-tapes from the dancehalls of Jamaica. The album starts off with bottom-heavy deliberate minor key rhythms in the Roots Radics template. Errol explains that he is a Rootsman devoted to clean living and good diet. The sole love song requests Errol and a lady come and Reason and Chat through serious matters.

There is a clear sense of transition from slow questing meditation to more a sound system ready major key vibe. Interestingly given the current climate, Rockers, on the Time Is Important backing, envisages reggae as a gift from Jah to black people to empower the likes of Bellot, Errol Dunkley, Dennis and Gregory to become singers. By the mid-way point the perennial lick overs, digital drums, “in/out” mixing and singjaying are in evidence. But whatever the style, Errol’s voice and lyrics possess all the passion and depth of conviction that he still brings to the music today.

Archive have been quite upfront regarding the raw nature of the sound quality in their press material, which is very like ripped vinyl. Ultimately, with only The Wicked Them and Rootsman ever being available before, it’s about supply and demand. Neither a reissue nor a new work, this is a restored historical artefact from an under-represented artist in long format. Congratulations to Errol for getting a vintage album out after all these years and well done to everyone involved.

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