REVIEW: Black Roots – Son Of Man

By Gerry McMahon

Some 50 minutes of decent quality roots reggae across 11 tracks await you on this recently released Black Roots’ ‘Son Of Man’ album from the French Soulbeats label.

Top of the pile is the opening anti-war ‘Son Of Man’ track, which may well find you singing along through day-to-day pursuits, as the contagious hook takes up residence in your sub-conscious. The next notable input comes in the righteous ‘All Sing The Song Key’, which extols the merits of Haile Selassie, with the beheaded John the Baptist even getting a look in! Another memorable track in the set is ‘Prevention’, which focuses on the world’s evils with an accompanying disarming musical melody.

Arguably the album’s second strongest track is ‘Can’t Get Out Of That’. This track does no favours to the police – and whilst possibly reflective of the treatment of minorities worldwide, could prompt the cynic to advise that the next time you’re in a ‘spot of bother’ don’t call the police, call a rasta! This track is followed by another sweet sound in the bouncy ‘Trickle Trickle Treat’, that characterises the whole album via its beautifully brass embellished bounce and competent vocals cum chorus.

Black Roots are a Bristol-based outfit of long standing. Their first release dates back to 1983 and after a lengthy lay off they re-united in 2007 and have been hard at it music-wise ever since. This album – which is their seventh studio album to date – is a welcome addition to an impressive catalogue.

So the recommendation is to get your dancing shoes (and thinking cap) on for this fine feast of roots reggae. In brief, the compilation, which may not be the group’s finest work to date, is still an engaging amalgam of high horn hooks, catchy rhythms, conscious lyrics and clever choruses – all of which will bring you right back to the 1970s heyday of the reggae genre. But don’t be fooled by that, as the conscious content may even be more relevant to today’s war-ravaged world. Either way, the music speaks for itself. Keep those sweet sounds simmering Black Roots.

1. Son of Man
2. War Zone
3. All Sing the Song Key
4. One Ebony Girl
5. Prevention
6. Guess Who
7. Wake Up
8. Can’t Get out of That
9. Trickle Trickle Treat
10. Poor Old Mama
11. One Thing