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 many radio and television appearances and released several albums in this period (‘Black Roots’, ‘The Frontline’, ‘In Session’, ‘All Day All Night’, ‘Natural Reaction’, ‘With Friends and ‘the Dub Factor series’). 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 continued to search out their music and it is this loyalty that led 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 CD version of ‘All Day All Night’ with bonus tracks.
But importantly the band capitalised on this new resurgence and interest by recording original material leading to the release of ‘On the Ground’ on Sugar Shack Records (UK) in 2012. It is their first original studio album in over 20 years and then two more releases of new songsl on Soulbeats Records (France) ‘Ghetto Feel’ 2014 and ‘Son of Man’ 2016 come out. They went back into the studio in December 2017 recorded, produced and mixed another 22 songs at Portishead’s J&J Studio employing the mixing talents of Louis Beckett. Two albums have emerged from this session, ‘Take It’ in November 2018 released and distributed with Khanti Records (France) and ‘Nothing in the Larder’ released in June 2021 distributed and marketed by Take It Easy Agency (France).
All these original recordings, released since the beginning of this century have struck a chord with fans new and old, highlighting the alienation and injustices that are re-emerging in Europe today as it swings inexorably to the right and people’s rights are eroded away, once more.
Nubian Records the band’s label has, also, been working with Real Rock Records (Italy) to release limited edition 7” vinyl only pressings from their extensive back catalogue aimed at the specialist reggae market. So far, they have issued ‘Juvenile Delinquent/Dub the Youth’, ‘What Them a Do/Jah Jah Dub’; ‘All Day All Night/Pressure Dub’ and ‘Release the Food/Folitricshun Dub’ in 2021. Another ‘Blackheart Man/Blackheart Dub’ is planned for February 2022.
They have also been performing live 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; Bagnols Reggae Festival, 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.