Formed in 1979, Black Roots exploded onto the Roots Reggae scene in 1981 when John Peel, the legendary DJ on BBC Radio 1, showcased their debut EP on his show, hailing them as one of the best new reggae bands in the UK. Their unique brand of roots reggae drew in people seeking to find a voice that spoke out against the injustices and alienation caused by the pace of political reform introduced in Thatcherite Britain. Black Roots’ uncompromising lyrical content was that voice throughout the 80’s.
From these beginnings, the band toured the United Kingdom extensively playing clubs, colleges, venues and universities, and made regular appearances at Glastonbury, WOMAD, Elephant Fayre and other major festivals. They broke into the European circuit following a support slot in 1984 on UB40’s European tour; made several radio and television appearances and released several albums in this period (‘Black Roots’, ‘The Frontline’, ‘In Session’, ‘All Day All Night’, ‘Natural Reaction’ and others). But it all went quiet for the band in the early 1990s. The band seem to slide off the ends of the earth and nothing happens for over 10 years.
However, their loyal fans continue to search out their music and it is this loyalty that leads to their re-emergence, engineered by Makasound (France) after they approached the band, licensed and reissued some of their back catalogue ‘On the Frontline’ in 2004 and ‘In Session’ in 2007. This was followed by 2 more reissues in 2011 on Bristol Archive Records (UK) a compilation of their singles ‘The Reggae Singles Anthology’ and a reissue on CD of ‘All Day All Night’ with bonus tracks.
But most importantly the band started to record new original material and in 2012 they released ‘On the Ground’ on Sugar Shack Records (UK). It is their first original studio album in over 20 years and is followed up by 2 more releases of original material on Soulbeats Records (France) ‘Ghetto Feel’ 2014 and ‘Son of Man’ 2016. These recordings have struck a chord highlighting once again the alienation and injustices that are emerging in Europe today as it swings inexorably to the right and people’s rights are being eroded away.
The band continues to produce more original music and went back into the studio in December 2017 to record and produce 22 songs at Portishead’s J&J Studio in Bristol employing the mixing talents of Louis Beckett. The first album from this session, ‘Take It’ is out now on the band’s own label Nubian Records in collaboration with French independent label Khanti Records.
They are also performing live and toured in France in November 2018, in support of the new album, delivering that conscious and uncompromising message with those harmonic vocals backed by a deep melodic roots reggae rhythm that makes them so unique. The band have performed selected gigs in UK and Europe like Bristol Veg Fest, Glastonbury Festival, Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park London, ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror curated by Portishead at Alexandra Palace in London UK; Cabaret Sauvage Paris, Garance Reggae Festival Bagnols Sur Ceze, Banlieues Bleues Jazz Festival Paris, Reggae Sun Ska Bordeaux, Nomade Reggae Festival Frangy and Nancy Jazz Pulsations France; Dour Festival and Afro C Belgium; Ostroda Reggae Festival Poland; Octopode Festival Geneva Switzerland; Sardinia Reggae Festival Italy, Rototom Reggae Sunsplash Spain and Bristol Harbour Fest.