Reggae Archive Records presents us with 15 riddims scoured and sourced from back in the ’80s, exploring the Midlands’ relationship with reggae, particularly in the city of Birmingham. Some words from the label:

The formation of Black Symbol was inspired by fellow Handsworth residents Steel Pulse; here we feature “In The Name of Jah” featuring the band at their spiritual best. We also have a track from Black Symbol spin-off group Oneness, with “Rome,” previously only available on a very hard to find 12”. Black Symbol provided the opportunity for many other Handsworth artists to record their music and this compilation features several: Man From The Hills “Redemption Day”, Sceptre “Ancestors Calling”, Benjamin Zephaniah “Unite Handsworth”, Zephaniah “Free Man” and the fantastic and previously
unreleased “Instruments” from Mystic Foundation. Why “Instruments” had laid forgotten on the master tape for thirty years, is unknown but it more than earns it’s place on this album as a stand out track. More tracks from Black Symbol and the Handsworth bands can be found on our previous releases; “Black Symbol”, Sceptre’s “Essence Of Redemption Ina Dif’rent Styley” and the two volumes of “Black Symbol Present Handsworth Explosion”. Handsworth’s last but by no means least contribution is from Carnastoan with “Mr. Workhard,” the B side of the band’s classic 12” single.

Birmingham’s contribution is rounded up by Iganda, a band whose long career sadly only produced one 7” single released in 1979; fortunately it was a classic and here we have the A side “Slow Down” The Midlands are further represented by Leicester’s Groundation and the nearly 8 minute long monster of a track that is “Fa-Ward”. We’ve previously reissued this on 12” and hopefully, there are more recordings to come from the Groundation tape vaults.

“The Midlands Roots Explosion Volume One” is just a snapshot of the abundance of musical talent in the region during the 1970s and 1980s. It barely scratches the surface but even so, it’s one of the strongest reggae compilations available and shows that the English Midlands were second to none when it came to roots reggae.

Tracklist:
1. Steel Pulse – “Kibudu-Mansatta-Abuku”
2. Steel Pulse – “Mansatta” (instrumental)
3. Man From The Hills – “Redemption Day”
4. Eclipse – “Blood Fi Dem”
5. Musical Youth – “Political”
6. Sceptre – “Ancestors Calling”
7. Benjamin Zephaniah – “Unite Handsworth”
8. Oneness – “Rome”
9. Black Symbol – “In The Name of Jah”
10. Groundation – “Fa-Ward”
11. Mystic Foundation – “Instruments”
12. Iganda – “Slow Down”

 

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