This forthcoming release from St. Austell-based eight-piece Backbeat Soundsystem is – following earlier EPs – the band’s first full-length studio album. Comprising twelve tracks, it sounds vital, upbeat and fresh. Recorded at Cube Recordings in Cornwall and using some tried and tested analogue equipment, the album opens with ‘Fighting Bull’, its brass phrases and polished production not unlike label mates Easy Star All Stars. Vocally powerful, and moving along into a dub style, this gets things off to a strong start. ‘Against it All’ is more politically engaged, serious and defiant, again set against an unrelenting reggae rhythm. ‘Words are the Weapon’ samples Peter Joseph’s ‘artivist’ documentary ‘Zeitgeist Addendum’ and again displays classic reggae rhythms with socially-concerned lyrics. The rhythm of ‘Losing Faith’ takes us back to 2-Tone, pleasingly enough, while ‘Share with You’ displays a more thoughtful side. ‘Two Time’ is mainstream reggae in melody and instrumentation – a strong roots contribution with electric guitar breaks enhancing the overall mix.
Following their appearance at the One Love Festival in August, and other tour dates alongside the admirable Easy Star All Stars, this release moves Backbeat Soundsystem into another league and it’s built on strong musical foundations. It’s intended to be a good thing to say this sounds at times like the very earliest UB40. It’ll be interesting to see what the response is to a whole album of their upbeat reggae – a million miles removed from digital dancehall and from studio production trickery generally – but it should be a highly positive reaction, especially in these hard times where optimism can be hard to find.
Backbeat Soundsystem ‘Together Not Apart’ released on Easy Star Records 13th October 2014