• “Ina Dif’rent Styley” set to a picture of the housing album cover.
“Excellent Reggae from England”
Opening track on their 1984 LP “Essence of Redemption Ina Dif’rent Styley”.
The core line-up on this one were: Lenford ‘Blacka’ March (bass, horns); Jean ‘Jeanus’ McLean (rhythm guitar, keyboards, horns); Michael ‘Rasiwa’ Johnson (bongos, percussion) and Kenny ‘Juicy’ Reid (sax, percussion). Brian Blake and Tony Gold were both involved on drums for the album.
Guest Toaster on this particular track was Beverley March aka “Rankin Bev” (Jean’s sister) and she certainly adds a whole lot of character.
Reggae Archive records, who reissued this set at the tail end of 2014 give some great background:
Founded in 1981 in England’s second city Birmingham, the band Sceptre were part of a thriving local music scene, a scene that for the most part revolved around live shows in the region’s community centres, university campuses, pubs and nightclubs. Neglected by major labels, many bands went unrecorded and of those that did get documented most managed to release just one or two singles. Fortunately, Sceptre recorded and released an entire album, 1984’s “Essence of Redemption Ina Dif’rent Styley”.
Poorly pressed, in very small numbers and with limited distribution, the album didn’t sell well and barely made an impact on its release. However, whatever its problems the music itself was first class and over the last three decades, has acquired numerous fans and an ever growing reputation as a classic of the British reggae genre. Whilst still remaining underground and unknown to the vast majority of reggae fans, demand amongst those in the know has been such that used copies have fetched as much as £180.
As part of our mission to document and reissue Britain’s lost, forgotten and unreleased reggae heritage, Sceptre were high on our list of projects. Through the good offices of Black Symbol who had released Sceptre’s previous two recordings on “Black Symbol Presents Handsworth Explosion Volume One”, (also reissued on Reggae Archive Records), we were introduced to Jean McLean and able to get the band members approval and cooperation with this project.
The album is brim full of great tracks and not only showcases the band’s versatility, but also what talented songwriters and musicians they were. The fact that it didn’t enjoy greater success and get heard by the reggae audience at large is a travesty we can finally put right.
Available from Bandcamp.