Israel Vibration, Roots Radics to play historic theater in Washington, DC, USA


It is so very fitting that perhaps the greatest roots reggae collective of the past 30 years will play the historic Howard Theater in Washington, DC on Sunday, March 10, 2013. In its heyday, the Howard was known for catering to an African-American clientele, and played host to many of the great black musical artists of the early and mid-twentieth century.

Israel Vibration, a reggae harmony group originating from Kingston, Jamaica, comprised now of Lascelle ”Wiss” Bulgin and Cecil “Skelly” Spence, overcame childhood polio and went on to be one of the most successful roots groups to form in Jamaica in the 1970s, helped by the fact that the vocalists were singing over the flawless riddims of the Roots Radics. The Radics, anchored by Earl “Flabba” Holt on bass and drummer Lincoln “Style” Scott were changing the whole sound, vibe, and riddim of reggae in the late 1970s and early 1980s with their innovative riddims and aggressive playing style. They are now regarded as the most prolific band to ever emerge from Jamaica.

Israel Vibration released 3 successful albums before calling it quits in 1981 and relocating to NYC. In 1987, Doctor Dread of the Washington, DC-based RAS Records convinced the group to reform and record a record to mark the reunion. The album “Strength Of My Life,” recorded right here in Washington DC at the Lion and Fox Recording studios, was released to much critical acclaim and now stands as one of the greatest roots reggae albums ever recorded. They would go on to record 20 albums for the RAS label in 25 years, most of them recorded right here in Washington, DC. I wrote about this recently and you can read all about it HERE.

With regard to the Roots Radics – I have never purchased a bad album featuring the Roots Radics. This is perhaps the greatest compliment I could bestow on a band, because the Roots Radics have appeared on hundreds of albums. They’ve backed names like Barrington Levy, Don Carlos, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, and many more. Their dub albums with the likes of King Tubby and Scientist transformed the sound of dub forever. Even their side projects garner staggering attention and accolades. Style Scott’s collaboration with Adrian Sherwood in Dub Syndicate is an indestructible force in the world of dub. Flabba Holt has quietly produced a library of landmark reggae albums including Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse and State of Shock, Scientist Meets the Roots Radics, Dennis Brown’s Light My Fire and Milk and Honey, and projects with Mike Brooks, Beres Hammond, U Roy, Delroy Wilson and more. In 2007, he produced a 2-volume treasure of rare and impossible-to-find tracks featuring Nicodemus backed by the Roots Radics at Channel One.

Which brings me to today when I received on my front doorstep the limited vinyl pressing of Serious Nicodemus: Nicodemus Meets Roots Radics at Channel One. Available through at a very reasonable price (it’s almost a steal), Serious Nicodemus is limited to 1,000 vinyl copies comprised of 2LPs each. In the 2 LPs we get the Radics on vinyl backing an extraordinarily witty and agile Nicodeemus. Originally released in 2007, the double album was pressed to vinyl and released in limited quantity exclusively through This set, reasonably priced at $9.99 USD, will easily be considered among the best yet to come for 2013.

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