Review Summary: UK Roots Reggae band from Bristol.
Formed in 1979 in the St Paul's area of Bristol Black Roots is one of the big bands of UK Roots Reggae of the '80s and '90s. Although they did not get as much recognition as Steel Pulse or Aswad, they toured heavily during that period in Europe. The original line-up consisted of eight members : Errol Brown and Delroy O'Gilvie for the vocals, Kondwani Ngozi at Congas and vocals, Jabulani Ngozi for the rhythm guitar, Cordell Francis for the lead guitar, Trevor Seivwright at drums and Derrick King at bass guitar.
Right from the beginning Black Roots shows exactly what they're here to do : Laid back Roots Reggae with conscious lyrics. Confusion works perfectly in that way. With lyrics such as « Take it my brothers yeah / and face reality now / now is the time to look into yourself / and see that society go crazy ». The lyrics are most of the time about the problems of our society, wars in Africa and love (Move On). What Them A Do is the perfect song to show that rebel side of Black Roots, with lyrics about the inequality in Africa and especially in Angola and Botswana. Needless to say that Rastafari is omnipresent in the songs, but not as much as modern day reggae songs.
Musically the LP is filled with jazz and blues guitar solos, piano and great vocal performance. The highlight of the LP is probably Juvenile Delinquent, where the whole mix of instruments works perfectly and produces a great song with fine lyrics about how the youth are becoming delinquents and how the government is not helping them. Another notable performance is Africa. Just like Juvenile Delinquent, the rhythm guitar section is very strong, the vocals are perfect and the lyrics are thought and very politically engaged which gives this song the rebel side most of Bob Marley's songs had (Africa Unite, Zimbabwe etc). The bass guitar is one of the most important instrument of Reggae and Derrick King delivers some very good melodies.
Overall this album is a fine Roots Reggae album overlooked by Reggae fans. The UK band released a few albums and called it quit in the '90s. They came back in December 2010 when they performed their first live show in over 20 years, thanks to the French label Soundicate/Makasoun who released and album in 2004. In 2012, they released a brand new record called « On The Ground ». In Session is a must check out album for all the Reggae lovers. Derrick King passed away in April 2011 from respiratory failure, after suffering from Motor Neurone Disease for a while. R.I.P.