Unit 8 Records
July 19, 2013
|Artist & tune|
|Overall rating : (1 to 5 stars)|
It's a Blessing thing when a much talked about project actually becomes reality; a project that the true Reggae connoisseur has been waiting a long time for. We're talking about BLACK SLATE! Yes, the legendary U.K. Roots Reggae outfit that happens to be one of the most important bands in British Reggae history. Their potent and real messages with ultra solid musicianmanship captured the world's attention for decades. After a long hiatus, they have come back again and wiser than before. World Citizenship is the dynamic new single from these veterans (along with new members) and is the result of the masterful production and engineering by Byron Mitchell of Unit 8 Records; a dynamic new studio/label based in Hackney, London.
Black Slate originated in 1974 and is the third oldest successful Reggae band from England (the oldest being Matumbi and Cimarrons). They cut teeth by backing visiting JA Royalty like Dennis Emmanuel Brown, Ken Boothe and Delroy Wilson. Eager to create their own unique sound; they did just that with the timeless classic, "Sticksman" (1976), that mashed up the European charts for weeks. They continued with touring and more chart success - "Mind Your Motion" (1978); to name a few. In 1980, this multi-layered unit achieved pivotal success with the uber-classic album, "Amigo" (Ensign Records, 1980). The passing of Mr. Robert Nesta Marley saw major labels dropping their "Reggae roster" out of panic. Black Slate trodded on with a slew of killer sets like "Ogima (Dub of Amigo), "Sirens In The City" (1982) and "Six Plus One" (Top Ranking). Their output slowed but popularity increased. Their 1995 set, "Get Up And Dance", showed how they could adapt to a changing musical environment. Fast forward to 2013...
Two of the original Black Slate lineup remain; Ras Elroy Bailey (bass, vox) and Desmond Mahoney (drums). New members have been wisely added. Jess Briade replaces lead vocalist Keith Drummond well tight. Cliff Charles/Horace Burke are strictly bubblin; replacing Anthony "Pure Silk" Brightly on keys. The veteran Jackie Davis licks guitar; in lieu of Chris Hanson and Cledwyn Rogers. Note, a lot of these original members are involved in other projects and are regarded as "one" Black Slate. There's a killer horn section of Sarah Tobias-sax/ Harry T-trombone/ Patrick "Matix" Allen-trumpet. The versatile Joy Mack is on backing vox duties. The bottom line is that this is one able and versatile unit! This was demonstrated at their "World Citizenship" EP launch on June 15 at London's Silver Bullet. The show was historical; with their live power and the presence of Earl "Wya" Lindo with the opener, Paul Hue & Rainbow Ensemble. Byron Mitchell has recorded an album's worth of material; with majestic songs like "Wisdom" and "Roots Love" soon come. Maximum raspect to Byron for keeping this fya alive.
"World Citizenship" is a smashing "re-introduction" to their unique sound. A smart and powerful statement about the need to end passport restrictions so that international morality and decency is intact and prevalent. Black Slate has always had a keen eye on the sign of the times and this is no different. Jess Briade is brilliant as lead singer. His delivery is heartfelt, soulful, powerful and bears no partiality. He roams wisely over a lilting riddim that showcases an immaculate horn section that demands "shoulder move". The unity of Bailey and Mahoney is so tight; the result of playing together for decades. The trust and raspect flows in their synchronicity. Cliff and Horace provide just the right bubbling and Jackie Davis plays the guitar with goldfingers. Superb backing vox from Empress Joy Mack. There's an obvious vibe that all involved are truly enjoying playing this yah Rasta Reggae.
"World Citizenship" is a whooping good time and is a great insight of more works to come from this legendary band. 2013 is Black Slate time again! It's Rasta Festival all over again and make sure you Mind Your Motion. Highest marks, fe surety!! Seek this song out or miss out on a piece of just written Reggae history. Go deh!!!!!!!!!!