Errol Bellot – Youthman “The Lost Album” (Reggae Archive)
CD, Vinyl & Download.
Louder Than War’s Nathan Brown listens to a rescued recording from an unsung hero of British Reggae.
“One of the best kept secrets in British reggae” is a turn of phrase employed every time a long serving artiste puts out a new release or retrospective but Errol Bellot turns in a worthy claim to that title on this album. Without checking the cover I set the download spinning (so to speak) and was immediately struck by how much this screamed out 80s British reggae. No shit, Sherlock – had I bothered to pay attention, plastered across the cover is “Errol Bellot meets Jah Bunny & Ras Elroy Ina 80’s Style”! Y’see “Youthman” is a collection of largely unreleased material recorded between 1983 and 1985. So it has a sound to transport you back to the era of Thatcher and riots – none of that modern digi-dub going on here.
Some of the rhythms are reminiscent of Matumbi backing LKJ on the seminal Poet & The Roots LP “Dread, Beat & Blood” (which of course makes sense as they were drummer Jah Bunny’s outfit) and there is something that reminds me of Misty In Roots’ soulful vibe. I’m no expert, I’m afraid, I just like a bit of reggae here & there so bear with me, eh? Lovers of classic dub will enjoy “Do What You Have To Do”, which gets the full echo chamber effect and could sneak unnoticed onto one of the many King Tubby CD collections doing the rounds while a couple of the other dubs have a clear nineties or even noughts digital / dance influence. A natural progression you might say.
Lyrically Errol Bellot ranges from Lovers Rock themes to “Rockers” (under heavy manners) celebrating reggae and namechecking the greats (Bob Marley, Dennis Brown etc) but he is predominantly a “Rootsman”. When he implored the “Youthman” of the 1980s to “Stop your robbing and shooting” I’m guessing he might have been referring to youth in Jamaica but with the escalation in gun crime these lyrics are sadly bang up to date for inner city living in the UK.
I have to say that there seem to be a lot of reissues, new dubs and “lost archives” hitting the streets from the world of reggae at the moment and the quality really varies, which can make it difficult to discern the diamonds from the dogshit. I’ve been burnt recently: the vinyl may have been heavy but the sound was fairly light. Anyway, to my ears this album from Errol Bellot falls into the shiny not the smelly category, if ya get my drift.
The CD and LP package includes full sleeve notes telling the story of Errol and Jah Bunny and how they came to collaborate, as well as a selection of rare archive photographs. The CD/download offers 17 tracks while the limited edition vinyl features 9 tracks. A fine addition to the Reggae Archive catalogue who have a laudable aim: “to showcase music from British Reggae labels and artists. Music that provides a historical account / document of all things Reggae that should never be forgotten”
Get it from www.reggaearchiverecords.com.