Tag Archives: rock

Bright Phoebus – Songs by Lal and Mike Waterson – A review


R-2047800-1260722169.jpegIt seems odd to review an L.p. first released in 1972, but hey, this is new to me, so it may be new to you too. Or you may have been trying to decide to get it or not since 1972 and this just might make up your mind.

I first ran into Lal and Mike Waterson’s own song writing and output as a result of listening to the Anne Briggs’s ‘classic’ L.p. ‘The Time Has Come’, which features a recorded version of ‘Fine Horseman’ by Lal Waterson. ‘Fine Horseman’ is a sublimely poetic song populated by Hardy’esque imagery and it had me intrigued in seconds. Then, when quite by chance I happened upon a re-release of ‘Bright Phoebus’ the 1972 L.p. by Lal and Mike Waterson (and others) which contained Lal singing her own version of this, the song she had penned, I just had to pick it up.

As a brief background, Anne Briggs was sometimes known as the honorary fifth Waterson of the Watersons, a British group of folks singers mostly (during its original tenure) from the same family, one that virtually defined traditional unaccompanied folk song tradition in the folk clubs of Great Britain during the British Folk Revival of the earlier 1960s. What many now lovingly refer to the ‘Wax on me finger’, or ‘Finger in the ear’ genre of folk. (Actually that’s a lie, but they might do for all its urgent self righteousness)

thetimehascome_64612The L.p. has already seen two or three re-issues on c.d. and vinyl and was for a time an underground classic, passed between devotees on ropey self duplicated tape cassettes. This issue from 2017 sees Domino Recording Co Ltd re-issue it on REWIGLP102 in a gatefold format with a good quality booklet and sleeve notes, telling the story of Lal and Mike’s development from members of the traditional singing group into songwriters, and the story of this L.p.’s recording.

The album initially gained rave reviews in much of the music press, but simultaneously alienated stick in the mud brigades of ‘don’t you mess with our traditional music’ fans (who had lots of wax stuck on their fingers, and fingers in ears), which slowed acceptance and sales. The L.p. crept into collective memory and slept on the back shelves of old dusty record stores. However it has since become a wonderful example of musical creation and invention and of the power of musical Art to conquer ears and stupidity over time.

In my mind the album links the Watersons traditionally bound unaccompanied singing style, and that school, with the development of Folk Rock by those such as Fairport Convention. I think it little surprise that Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Tim Hart and Maddy Prior are all helping out in various ways on ‘Bright Phoebus’, it makes perfect sense. Sticking the two together with guitar glue is Martin Carthy. Having redefined English Folk music by translating it to an instrument not traditionally used for it, he’s the all too important chain link in the album’s musical integrity I believe. Richard Thompson will I believe always be a Rock guitarist who got interested in Folk, not a Folk guitarist who has dabbled with Rock; and so it is Carthy that translates what Lal and Mike Waterson are trying to do here into something we can all ‘get’.

So I’ve alluded to some of the collective that combined to produce the music on this L.p., but what about the songs? As usual it’s such a personal thing, what a song means to any person that I am loathe to impose my opinion on you the potential listener and would much rather you shelled out your hard-earned moolah for a copy, and made your own mind up. However one thing is certain, they are dark in the main, mystery laden, intangible, phantom like songs. You expect the Hound of the Baskervilles to howl on backing vocals, you can hear the creak of the Reddle man’s wagon through the marsh mist rising from the ground as you drop the needle. The rain drizzles onto the stone Church’s boundary walls it dusts onto the heart’s tongue ferns and into the grooves of the record, hope dies, and in the morning sun, is reborn.

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978 – 1983


The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978 – 1983

 

Interesting compilation coming out on Bristol Archive Records seeing an official release in the early part of next year, though it is available to purchase in advance here – http://bristolarchiverecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-bristol-reggae-explosion-1978-1983

I’ve got a promo copy for the car and have particularly enjoyed Ressurection’s – Four Point Plan, apparently Ressurection featured a young Rob Smith on guitar, he’s better known now as Smith of Smith N’ Mighty, reknowned remixers. Like a lot of good things, he hails from Bristol.

Bristol is and was one of the important musical and particularly Jamaican musical hotspots in the UK, and alongside Birmingham and London is was where it was all happening back in the day, check out your intro into the Bristolian affect on this release, heartily recommended.

Here is what the label says about it:

THE BRISTOL REGGAE EXPLOSION 1978-1983

Released on CD, VINYL and DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

Release date 21st February 2011

From Pop to Punk, the late seventies and early eighties saw a huge explosion in the number of local bands as more and more people thought they’d give it a go, new studios and independent labels weren’t far behind and Reggae wasn’t going to be left out of the musical mix.

If the majors were even aware of Bristol they showed minimal interest and it was left to the bands themselves and the handful of indie labels to document Bristol’s contribution to what was then a vibrant UK Reggae scene. Working on tight budgets and with no money for marketing campaigns local bands managed to release a small, but steady flow of vinyl, mostly pressed in tiny quantities and often sold direct to fans at gigs, these records, although cherished by those who own them, and sought by those in the know, have been largely ignored by the wider music industry.

Fortunately Bristol music has its own champion in the shape of Bristol Archive Records, a label with a mission to share our great musical heritage with the world, “The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983” is the first and only attempt to document the local Reggae scene from the late seventies until the early eighties. With the exception of the Black Roots tracks none of the recordings have ever been reissued and all were originally released before CD had been launched, so this is their debut in the digital format.

The music itself reflects the dominance of the Roots style in Bristol, even today Roots is by far the most popular type of Reggae in both the retail and live scenes locally, Black Roots live up to their name and show why they were the equal of any UK Reggae band in their day, Talisman, Restriction and 3D Production follow in their Roots footsteps, but a real highlight of this release is the inclusion of the ultra rare “Africa Is Our land” from Joshua Moses, a UK Roots classic. Bristol wasn’t all about Roots though and the other tracks follow a more mellow template, dealing with love and relationships, both Talisman and Joshua Moses show another side to their music and are joined by tracks from Buggs Durrant, The Radicals and Sharon Bengamin who’s “Mr. Guy” is a classic UK Lover’s track in the mould of Janet Kay, Carroll Thompson, Louisa Marks et al.

“The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983” will be released as a fourteen track CD, but you can’t have a proper Reggae release without it being on vinyl so there will be a very limited vinyl pressing featuring an eight track selection and just to keep things local the sleeve art is a mid-eighties carnival shot from Bristol’s own Beezer, (www.beezerphotos.com), featuring a classic image of Jah Revelation sound-system.
This release will shine the spotlight on a long neglected corner of the UK Reggae scene and Bristol’s musical heritage, the same music that would help underpin Bristol’s musical dominance in the following decade.
www.bristolarchiverecords.com

credits
released 21 February 2011
The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978 – 1983

Track listing:

01. Black Roots : Bristol Rock (Bunny Marrett) (Arranged by Black Roots) p Nubian Music 1981

02. Joshua Moses : Africa (Is Our Land) (Joshua Moses 1978) p Copyright Control 1978

03. Talisman : Run Come Girl – Live (Taylor / Talisman 1980) p Recreational Music 1981

04. Restriction : Four Point Plan (Restriction 1983) p Unitone Publishing 1983

05. Black Roots : Tribal War 12” Mix (Black Roots) p Nubian Music 1981

06. Restriction : Restriction (Restriction 1983) p Unitone Publishing 1983

07. Joshua Moses : Pretty Girl (Joshua Moses 1979) p Unitone Publishing 1979

08. Talisman : Wicked Dem – Live ( Taylor / Talisman 1980) p Recreational Music 1981

09. The Radicals : Nights Of Passion ( John Carley 1980) p Copyright Control 1980

10. Sharon Bengamin : Mr Guy (Unknown 1980) p Unitone Publishing 1980

11. Black Roots : Juvenile Delinqent (Black Roots) p Nubian Music

12. Buggs Durrant : Baby Come Back(Home) (Errol Williams 1983) p Unitone Publishing 1983

13. 3-D Production : Riot (John Carley 1980) p Third Kind Music 1980

14. Talisman : Dole Age 12” Mix ( Joseph / Talisman 1981) p Recreational Music 1981

Tracks 1, 5, 11 originally released on Nubian Records
Track 2 originally released on More Cut Records
Track 3 and 8 previously unreleased Live Recordings
Track 4 and 6 originally released on Restriction Records 1983
Track 7, 10 and 12 originally released on Shoc Wave Records 1979, 1980 and 1983
Track 9 originally released on The Bristol Recorder 2 1980
Track 13 originally released on Third Kind Records 1980
Track 14 originally released on Recreational Records 1981

Track 1, 5 and 11 Engineered by UK Scientist, Recorded at The Facility, Produced by UK Scientist and Black Roots
Track 2 Engineered by Dennis Bovell, Recorded at Gooseberry Studios London, Produced by Dennis Bovell
Track 3 Recorded Live at Glastonbury Festival
Track 4 and 6 Engineered and Mixed by The Mad Professor, Recorded at Ariwa Sound Studios London, Produced by Restriction
Track 7, 10 and 12 Produced by Gene Walsh, Recording location unknown
Track 8 Recorded Live at Bath University
Track 9 Engineered and Produced by David Lord at Crescent Studios Bath
Track 13 Recording location unknown, Arranged and Produced by Ron Green
Track 14 Engineered by David Lord at Crescent Studios Bath, Mixed by UK Scientist, Produced by Talisman and UK Scientist

All tracks re-mastered by Steve Street, July 2010
All Rights Reserved

P c Bristol Archive Records 2010

Thanks to

Martin Langford, Steve Street, Sam Giles, Gene Walsh/Joshua Moses / Shoc Wave, Brendan, Des, Denison / Talisman, Jabulani Ngozi / Black Roots, John Carley, Rob Smith / Restriction, Adrian at Great Bear, Lloyd Harris / Chris Parker/Recreational Records, Alfredo / Nubian Records, St.Pauls Carnival Office / Steve , Thomas Brooman CBE / The Bristol Recorder People, Gary Chapple and “all the musicians who played on these tracks”.

Photo credits: Thanks to the original photographers and artwork designers with whom copyright remains on their work

Front cover image Beezer

Artwork by samgilesdesign@gmail.com

This album is dedicated to Mark Simpson and Trinity Hall

Bristol Archive Records, July 2010
www.bristolarchiverecords.com
email: info@bristolarchiverecords.com