Some have declared the death of UK reggae already, and few would dispute a decline of what was once the World’s second most important reggae scene. Records that leave a lasting impression have been scarce lately, with the notable exception of Bitty McLean, of course. And Black Roots. The band that had been established way back in 1979 in Bristol had been absent from the scene since 1995 when they announced their grand retour with their LP On The Ground in 2012. Two years later, the mythic group presents their next album, Ghetto Feel, which was co-produced by Jeff Spencer and mixed by Louis Beckett.
“Ghetto Feel is the place where the forgotten live, all the forgotten of this world,” explains the group. Ghetto Feel isn’t made for those who live on life’s sunny side. This record aims at those left alone to fight life’s daily struggles, at those that have been rendered hopeless and voiceless by the shitstem. The twelve tracks of the album are pure upliftment and motivation to fight the necessary struggles, keep one’s head up and ultimately succeed against all odds.
The first thing you’ll notice after a short drumroll is the monumental, top-ranking brass section. “Arising in the light of Jah word/and finish the journey alone/to find the power of Jah.” Ghetto Feel comes with classical grandeur in every aspect, right up to the vocal harmonies that recall the 1970s. It breathes decades of musical experience.
“Living on the frontline/you got to be wise/living on the frontline/you got to compromise.” There are ghettos everywhere around the world. Black Roots have understood this. Instead of giving moral sermons, their deep understanding of such living conditions, empathy, deep spirituality and the sagacity that only comes with surviving under such conditions for decades fuels their advice to their listeners. It pays off to closely pay attention to Black Roots’ lyrics and look beyond the surface of the Rasta imagery employed.
Black Roots composed all the songs on Ghetto Feel themselves, and the result is an actual album you should listen to in one take. The problems the band’s members had to face back in 1979 when they established Black Roots are the same today, and their answers aren’t that different now from what they were at the time. While it’s a shame that nothing has changed really, it’s nice to have some of the UK’s most prominent musical advocates of peoples’ rights back. Ghetto Feel is the perfect soundtrack for these times of crisis. This is the right stuff to cool down with after having fought your daily struggle.
|A3||A Wah So?|
|B5||Drawn To My Attention|
|B6||Stuck Pon Waff
Includes free mp3 full album download card.
Label: Soulbeats Records
Year: September 2014
Format: Vinyl LP