Founded in 1981 in Britain'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.
Musically this is one of the strongest UK albums there is, with not a single weak track and many stand outs. Six of the ten songs are roots, varying between a classic roots sound based on a 1970s Jamaican blue print on “Essence of Redemption”, “Nuclear Disaster”, “Soul Searching” and “Pestilence and Bombing” to a more contemporary UK feel on “Right Time Coming,” whilst “Get Up And Go” incorporates a funk feel into the mix. Three of the tunes, “Play the Music”, “Me on My Own” and “Goodbye” are Lovers Rock with Jean McLean taking over lead vocal duties from the men, whilst Jean's sister Beverley aka Rankin Bev demonstrates her MC skills on the dancehall orientated “Ina Dif'rent Styley”.
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. Sceptre's “Essence of Redemption Ina Dif'rent Styley” is reissued by Reggae Archive Records on 20th October 2014 and will be available on premium quality vinyl, CD and digital download from all leading outlets. To coincide with this release our sister label Sugar Shack Records is releasing former Sceptre guitarist, horn player, keyboard player and vocalist Jean McLean's new album “Everlasting” on the same date.
released October 20, 2014
1. Ina Dif’rent Styley (Beverley March/ Jean Mclean)
2. Pestilance and Bombing (Michael Johnson)
3. Nuclear Disaster (Lenford March)
4. Play The Music (Jean Mclean)
5. Get Up and Go (Lenford March)
6. Essence of Redemption (Michael Johnson)
7. Goodbye (Jean Mclean)
8. Right Time Coming (Lenford March)
9. Me On My Own (Jean Mclean)
10. Soul Searching (Michael Johnson)
Bass & Horns by Lenford March (Blacka)
Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards & Horns by Jean McLean (Jeanus)
Bongos & Percussion by Michael Johnson (Rasiwa)
Sax & Percussion by Kenny Reid (Juicy)
Drums Brian Blake (Drum I)
Drums Tony Gold (Goofy)
Beverley March “Rankin Bev” (Ina Dif’rent Styley)
All tracks copyright control 1984
Recorded at Outlaw Studios Birmingham 1983/84
Produced by Sceptre
All rights reserved
P&C Reggae Archive Records 2014
All tracks owned by Sceptre and licensed to Reggae Archive Records
Transfer & Audio Restoration by Sean Pennycook
Mastered by Steve Street July 2014
Sleeve reconstruction and design by Sam Giles