BLACK ROOTS ‘With Friends’

re-issued on download on 26th April 2019

This album was first released in 1993 on Vinyl, Cassette and CD and it is now to be reissued as part of the programme by Nubian Records to make available all of Black Roots’ back catalogue on digital platforms.  ‘With Friends’ will be out on 26th April 2019.  It is the last full album recorded by the band before activity ceased in the mid-90s for several years in their 40 years long career.  The next full album recorded by the band was On the Ground that released in 2012 in collaboration with Sugar Shack Records.

Black Roots had talked on occasion of inviting other artists to perform some of their classic songs and the circumstances of the band at this time lent themselves to work up such a project.  And so, Dub Judah, BB Seaton, Trevor Dixon and Mikey Forbes, all London based artists, were approached to perform on this album. 

Dub Judah a very respected vocalist, musician, live performer and producer working through his own Dub Jockey record label was asked to and agreed to produce the album.  He was given the key task of breathing new life into these songs and used his versatile musical skills to good effect changing the feel of the rhythm section.  The recordings play and feel different even though they are all classic Black Roots songs.  He added his vocals to two massive songs ‘What Them a Do’ and ‘Tribal War’.  The lyrical content of these blend with his personal beliefs reflecting where he was at spiritually and he sang them with heart.  You can hear it when you listen back to these two songs.

Harris Lloyd "B.B." Seaton, also known as "Bibby", a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, and record producer who was a member of The Gaylads, The Astronauts, Conscious Minds, and The Messengers, took on the task of laying vocals on ‘Release the Food’ and ‘Opportunity’ giving these new depth and insightfulness.

Trevor Dixon, a lovers rock singer best known for his vocals on ‘Woman of Moods’ that was first released in 1988 on Groove & a Quarter Records, sang ‘Move On’ and ‘Let It Be Me’, two ballads that suited his smooth and silky vocal style.

And Charles Bryan aka Delroy Ogilvie, one of the original front men with Black Roots, came back to do a cameo performance on ‘Chanting for Freedom’ punching out the lyrics in his own inimitable style with Mikey Forbes, another guest reggae singer doing a great vocal version of ‘Confusion’.

The other songs featured on this album and given the treatment by Kondwani Ngozi and Errol Brown, the remaining vocalists with Black Roots at this time, are ‘Juvenile Delinquent’. ‘Survival’, ‘Africa’ and ‘The Father’.

And so was born ‘With Friends’.  The final curtain on the first part of Black Roots’ long and continuing musical career.

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'Take It' the latest album  

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"All our songs were inspired by the over sight of how the youth dem lost their way in the jungle of capitalism, slaying dem brothers and sisters without any hesitation. That brutality comes from the mindset of our so-called leaders. Especially the title track, Take It, which sums up the world's concept, putting money before life, not of Jahjah, the almighty God, Rastafari". So, says the band about this album.  And when you read this, it becomes clear that Black Roots are not about to be turned away from the path that they have chosen.

They have never shied away from making social and political commentary or singing about African emancipation.  But always with that ability to be inclusive, encompassing all people and races into that message, speaking about knowledge, empowerment and of coming together to stand up and fight against those that seek to oppress and enslave the poor and the weak in society.

It couldn’t be a more significant time in history to impart these messages as more and more countries lurch to the right infringing and diluting the rights of minorities, refugees and the poor.  There are several references to children and how they must be protected as they represent the future.  But when you see the plight that they are in, the band asks are we taking hunger, poverty, displacement and the effects that this is having on them seriously?  The band know this not to be true.  It seems that war fuelled by greed is more important that building a world that is safe for them.  There are references to false prophets making promises that are self-serving, that drive people into oppression by ensnaring and trapping them in a cycle of poverty and brutality that they cannot break out of.  They refer to Trump as the reincarnation of Hitler and to the Tories in the UK as false prophets whose gift is oppression and false imprisonment.  Has anything really changed, they ask?

Africa is a theme that they return to again and again.  But in this set they speak of the world not being free until Africa is free and comparing the whole World to Africa.  Perhaps they are reflecting that unless and until the most oppressed and downtrodden are freed then the World cannot be truly free.

This album builds on the work that Black Roots has done since 1979 when they first formed in St Pauls Bristol and is the 4th studio album since they got back together.  The first of these 4 albums was On the Ground released on on Sugar Shack UK in 2012.  It is followed by 2 albums Ghetto Feel 2014 and Son of Man 2016 on Soulbeats Records.


They are, also, performing live again delivering that conscious and uncompromising message with those harmonic vocals backed by a deep melodic roots reggae rhythm that makes them so unique.  And in support of this new album they toured in France in November 2018.

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