Talisman – I-Surrection (Sugar Shack Records)
LP / CD/ DL
Bristol roots reggae pioneers return with only their third studio album in nearly thirty years and first after their recent reforming. And, like their brothers in arms, Black Roots, did last year, they totally nail it.
Three studio albums in thirty years doesn’t sound like a great output, but as Talisman only reformed two years ago after a break stretching decades, perhaps one shouldn’t be too quick to judge. Proof of the high regard the band is held in can be gathered by the fact that even after such a long break The Selecter invited them to tag along on their recent UK tour shows – some of many gigs the band have playing in the last two years.
With this, Talisman’s new album, co-founders Dennison Joseph and Desmond Taylor (now Dehvan Othieno) return with a typically 70s sounding roots reggae album of six tracks.
Six? Well, yes, but there’s a twist. Whilst Side A contains timeless roots reggae, there’s a little surprise waiting on the flip-side where each track is give the dub treatment. Arguably, there is nothing earth shattering about any track on the album, but why change when what they do is so good and so authentic? Talisman could quite easily try and update their sound for the 21st century, but when an audience like that of Black Roots has been baying for re-releases and re-issues, the obvious thing is simply to carry on where you left off.
Lyrically, social conscience remains a prime objective, and their lyrics are as incisive under the current Tory government as they were when our current leaders could only drool over Mrs Thatcher in the 70s and 80s. Talisman argue that whatever progress our society has made, some of the simplest problems still remain.
Opener, ‘Greetings’ ensures the listener quickly settles into the mood for the album. Easy, lazy, reggae that will please any fan. ‘Help Yourself’ is pure Marley complete with Bob’s “Woah’s” throughout and namechecks to Malcom X and Martin Luther King are joined by those of Stephen Lawrence and Smiley Culture on ‘Season For Freemen’.
The dub versions are good and satisfying, and whilst not dubbed out of proportion, have enough reverb and snare to be accepted as tracks in their own right. The pick of the bunch being ‘Things A Dub’ (version of ‘Things A Get Tough’), which is quite simply sumptuous and perfect for relaxing and, well, doing nothing.
Not an album that will change the world of reggae, but do we really need to? When you have the winning formula, why change?
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.