Boomkat Product Review:
The Midlands Roots Explosion Volume Two showcases some genuine rebels in the guise of musicians, playing the finest in English reggae. Last year's release of Volume One saw the culmination of many years work spent tracking down artists and tapes to shine a light on one of England's greatest, yet most overlooked musical scenes; the home grown take on reggae that briefly flourished from the mid-seventies and had almost disappeared little more than a decade later.
"Mixing themes of struggle, resistance, justice, equality, identity and Rastafari played and sung from the heart with both conviction and skill, our first volume received a rapturous reception from critics and purchasers alike. Now we return with more of the same, but if anything we've surpassed Volume One with an even stronger selection.
Volume Two starts off in exactly the same way as its predecessor with Handsworth's biggest musical exports, the legendary Steel Pulse and "Bun Dem produced by the legendary Dennis Bovell. Our first act new to the series are Natural Mystique with their 1982 single "Generals" whilst tracks 3, 4 and 5 round off the missing A and B sides from some of the most popular artists we included last time with Iganda's "Mark Of Slavery", Carnastoan's "Sweet Melody" and yet another Generals, this one from Musical Youth featuring the same line up that caused so much surprise and positive feedback with their inclusion on Volume One. "Africans" from Bass Dance featuring a second appearance from former Steel Pulse guitarist/vocalist Basil Gabbidon, is the first of four previously unreleased tracks. The other three that we've managed to track down on long forgotten tapes, are Leicester's Groundation with "Rebel" recorded a few years before "Fa Ward" which we included last time, "Cannot Take It Away"; another lost gem from Handsworth's Mystic Foundation and "Equalisation" another lost slice of early eighties roots from Wolverhampton's Capital Letters.
The late Linton Haughton is another new name with his scarce Shield label 12" cut "Hustling Man". Also making their first appearances, are Afrikan Star with "Run And Hide" originally issued in 1980 on Black Vinyl Records and from the Crucial Music stable, Sledge Hammer with "Ruled By The Stone" released as a 7" single on the Crucial Music Inc. label. The remaining three tracks are provided by label favourites and key players in the Birmingham scene, Black Symbol, Sceptre and Eclipse and showcase songs from the individual albums we've previously released by each band.
Bristish roots reggae at its finest.