in Roots, along with Steel Pulse and a few others, brought Rasta consciousness to the UK
punk scene in the late 70s, sharing bills and ideologies with many white punk bands (the
first release on their own label was by The Ruts).
While Steel Pulse recorded regularly throughout the 80s and 90s,
Misty preferred to gig more or less continually, despite problems and personal tragedy. In
1982 their involvement in anti National Front action in Southall resulted in prosecutions,
the demolition of their house and the near death of their manager after a brush with
police, while in 1992 singer Devon Tyson drowned at the end of a tour in Ghana.
It's maybe no surprise then that Misty are as stirringly conscious
as ever on Roots Controller, their first album for 12 years. "Cover Up"
deals with the Stephen Lawrence case (the title says it all). "Dancehall
Babylon" is an attack on Dancehall culture; 'The heathens don't praise Jah in their
Dance, all they want is sex and vanity'. As Misty have a go at consumerism in "Follow
Fashion"; it's clear that their sound hasn't followed fashion either. Walford Tyson's
plaintive, soulful voice floats over deep roots grooves, sweet chord changes and juicy
horn stabs; the production is warm, deep and crisp.
That songs dealing with racial injustice, murder and the ills of
capitalism come across as somehow nostalgic and reassuring just goes to show how rare the
likes of Misty are these days, and maybe how much we need them back.
While the first six tracks are all new, the remainder act as a quick
intro to Misty's earlier albums, with tracks from 1979's classic Live at the Counter
Eurovision, 1983's Earth and Musi-O-Tinya from 1985. Some of these tracks
feature Devon Tyson; as Vivien Goldman points out in her sleevenote, this album is in
some ways a tribute to him, and a fine one too. Righteous, uplifting stuff; how about some
Reviewer: Peter Marsh