Talisman – I-Surrection (Sugar Shack Records)
Bristol roots reggae pioneers return with only their third studio album in nearly thirty years.
Three studio albums in thirty years doesn’t sound like a great output, but, to be fair, Talisman only reformed two years ago, and, do play live at any given opportunity as supporting Selector on their recent UK tour shows. Co-founders Dennison Joseph and Desmond Taylor (now Dehvan Othieno) return with a typically 70s sounding 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 flipside 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?
Published on Louder Than War 28/10/13 - here