Boomkat Product Review:
Legendary Moss Side/Hulme roots reggae band X-O-Dus are finally given a first vinyl edition of ‘English Black Boys’, their long thwarted debut album for Factory, including the titular, Dennis Bovell-produced 1980 single.
This first vinyl edition of the full ‘English Black Boys’ arrives 40 years after the band were forced to change their name due to similarities with a London band, and Factory effectively sidelined them in the wake of all the attention around Joy Division. The album did eventually come out on CD in 2012, but only now finds its intended vinyl existence, pairing the Dennis Bovell-produced single with contemporaneous songs plus tracks written during the ‘90s and into the ‘00s.
You can imagine that if ‘English Black Boys’ had come out in 1980, it would have become a real touchstone of the Manchester canon by now. As noted by Steve Barker “They were a community-rooted band taking a strong political stance in their lyrics, as opposed to any faux Rasta leanings, and their first single on Factory was well supported by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus.”
In an alternate timeline, they would be hailed up there on a wider level with UK reggae greats such as Matumbi and Steel Pulse, but as it is, the album remains a ghostly, richly soulful oddity from the most vital corner and era of Manchester; a place and time where working class African diaspora and Irish communities gelled, and the likes of the Nile and Reno club, Barry Adamson and A Guy Called Gerald would later come to represent to the world at large. X-O-Dus come from the foundation of all that good stuff.