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The Bristol Reggae Explosion 2: The 1980s

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 2: The 1980s

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 2: The 1980s

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Underexposed U.K. Reggae Gets a Go.


I know the British reggae scene has been vibrant for decades. I know that scene includes both homegrown artists and Jamaicans who’ve made their way across the ocean to be a part of it. I know how particularly strong a force reggae is in London, a city I’ve twice had the pleasure of traveling to. What I didn’t know is how similarly mighty reggae is (or at least was) in the city of Bristol.

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 2I’ve no doubt there was a first volume that preceded 'The Bristol Reggae Explosion 2', but this series is as new to me as most of the names of the singers and bands who created the music therein. Mostly of the roots variety, the tracks here sound at once Jamaican-influenced and U.K.-bred, bearing the same consciousness and pulsating riddims that marked the later roots era in Jamaica. Since it’s the ‘80s being covered, some of the jauntiness of early dancehall can be heard along with hints of the slide toward computerized arrangements that were beginning to invade reggae at the time. Still, apart from Dan Ratchet and Teknikal’s rather inconsequential Raggamuffin Girl and The Radicals’ somewhat better Time Out, there’s nothing lightweight about this hour-plus of reggae.

Black Roots and Alfred McIntosh get two tracks each, the latter’s a pair of sharply jolting dubs, the former’s every bit as black and roots as the band’s name suggests. Other highlights include the understated determination of Joshua Moses’ opening Rise Up, the odd but compelling vocal echoes that emerge throughout Bunny Marrett’s Times Are Getting Harder, Cool Runnings’ poignant Robin Hoods Of The Ghetto and the soul-drenched lead vocal and winding sax solo on Little Eyes by one Lord John Hutchinson. Altogether an impressive set that makes you want to discover whatever further treats might be found at the same source.

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