Black Roots: ‘Live Power’ Album Review

Nubian Records/Black Roots
Nubian Records/Black Roots

Nubian Records is reissuing the ‘Black Roots Live Power’ LP which was originally released on the label in March 1989. This powerful set, recorded and mixed by Mad Professor live at Moles Club, Bath, 22nd September 1988, captures one of the UK’s most influential reggae groups in top form.

It was 1981 when the band cut their first live session at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios for John Peel. Another live studio session in 1983 followed and their first live album was issued in 1985 by the BBC as ‘In Session.’ The album is masterpiece of live in-studio recordings with a sound that is so brilliantly-produced and stunningly mixed that it rivals the sound quality of the band’s first two proper studio albums. The band’s BBC sessions have been a favorite of reggae fans ever since and were re-issued with bonus tracks by MakaSound in 2008.

‘Black Roots Live Power’ finds the band in a small, intimate setting with a high-energy crowd and a legendary dubmixologist at the controls. Mad Professor recorded the live performance through a 24-track console in a studio adjacent to the club, later remixing it at Ariwa Studios.

The best live albums are those in which the engineer balances the essence of the band’s live performance against the energy of the live audience. It is that intangible “give and take” that brings these albums to life. Mad Professor has a unique understanding of this intangible element as he has earned his bona fides both in-studio and in live clubs all over the world. Professor goes with a well-balanced mix, crisp sound, and sparse yet well-placed dub effects.

Highlights of the set include Carlton Smith taking lead vocals on “Juvenile Delinquent” and the band’s performance of three of their more obscure singles (“Start Afresh,” “Suzy Wong” and “Let It Be Me”). ‘Black Roots Live Power’ will be released by Nubian Records on 26 May 2015 as an exclusive digital download.