Talisman - Don't Play With Fyah - reggaerootsreview.com

Talisman – Don’t Play with Fyah
(CD, Digital and Limited Edition 8 track Vinyl)

Is roots reggae still relevant? That is a question I ask myself frequently and the simple answer is yes. We all know that songs of protest and rebellion offer some of the best examples of roots reggae. Whether it’s the militant songs of Peter Tosh or the subtle but cutting dub poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson, the strongest reggae in my mind comes from those artists with a revolutionary message. So what of modern roots reggae? It’s easy to understand the context during the 70s, but what of now? Personally, hearing voices of protest and being educated about what is going wrong with the world is more important than ever. The warnings of Babylon are coming to fruition; multi national corporations have an unhealthy hold on the world and are given freedom by sycophantic, self serving politicians. This is why bands like Talisman and their new release ‘Don’t Play with Fyah’ are so needed!

Don’t Play With Fyah

Talisman began life in the late 70s, but their heyday was in the politically charged Britain of the 80s. You can find out more about their history at their website. This review is going to focus on the relevance of their newest work, ‘Don’t Play With Fyah’.

Talisman - reggaerootsreview.com

The album kicks off with what initially sounds like a gentle start, but like all the songs on this album it is the ‘Fyah’ in the lyrics that gives the album its maturity and authenticity. These tracks are as strong as anything that has come from the UK shores. Opening track ‘Relijan’ is a lament to those who use religion as an excuse for causing death and destruction. The easy groove is in nice contrast to the accusing lyrics; it’s the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. Second track ‘Talkin’ Revolution’ doesn’t pull its punches either and is a rallying call for action. I love the lyric ‘We’re talkin revolution while walking hand in hand with Babylon’. It’s incendiary stuff and matches anything the great reggae lyricists of old have come up with. This track is a message to the black man about taking control of your destiny; if that doesn’t bring back the spirit of 70s roots then I don’t know what does.   

She Look Like Reggae

Third track ‘She Look Like Reggae’, shows what the band are capable of musically. Another easy restrained beat provides the perfect backdrop to the poetic lyrics. These guys unquestionably know how to write a tune, they have been in business long enough to know their craft. Going back to one of my initial questions about whether modern roots reggae is still needed, the answer is yes it damn well is. Check out ‘Racism Never Sleep’ for example, this soulful track belies the strong message of complacency. Racism and bigotry must be watched, as at every opportunity it is capable of raising its ugly head.

Dennis Bovell

It is worth highlighting the dub mixes which are included in this release from the great Dennis Bovell, and where would British reggae be without Dennis? All his re-workings keep the essence of the message of the songs, but add an edge of bassy menace. Have a listen to his dub of ‘Talkin Revolution’, it warrants a single release of its own as it so beautifully crafted.

I hope I have done enough to convince you to buy this album and also whether roots reggae is still relevant. But I think you know the answer to that already….. Talisman are a national treasure, if they keep producing material like this, then long may they reign.

CD and Digital:

  1. Relijan
  2. Talkin’ Revolution
  3. She Look Like Reggae
  4. Don’t Play with Fyah
  5. Hear No Evil
  6. Racism Never Sleep
  7. Wheel and Come Again
  8. Relijan Dub
  9. Revolutionary Dub
  10. She Look Like Dub
  11. Don’t Play With Dub
  12. Hear No Dub
  13. Racism Never Dub
  14. Wheel and Dub Again

Limited Edition LP

Side A

  1. Relijan
  2. Relijan Dub
  3. She Look Like Reggae
  4. She Look Like Dub

Side B

  1. Talkin’ Revolution
  2. Revolution Dub
  3. Don’t Play with Fyah
  4. Don’t Play with Dub

Check out the SoundCloud link below for some clips, the album is out this week from all good retailers. But maybe check out Talisman’s label, Sugar Shack Records first and send your cash to the source!

Bless, Paper Lion

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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] more voters and can truly say that it reflects current trends and tastes. But any chart that has Talisman's Relijan single as number one is good in my book. It will be interesting to see how it develops, as […]


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