SEVEN years after its last release, British reggae reissue label Blood and Fire is back on the market through a new distribution deal with VP Records.

Steve Barrow, the respected British reggae historian, is back at the helm of Blood and Fire which re-released a number of classic roots-reggae albums and singles from 1994 to 2007.

The label will be officially relaunched on April 19 with the release of the Gregory Isaacs 12- inch single, Mr Know It All. Barrow, whose involvement with reggae goes back to the 1970s, describes the VP deal as “personally gratifying”.

He stressed its importance to Jamaican artistes and producers. “Firstly, it means that some crucial music from the 1970s will be available again, to a new generation, at an affordable price.

The original Blood and Fire releases were being sold on Amazon and eBay at relatively high prices,” Barrow noted. “Secondly, it means that the Jamaican copyright owners can generate some income from the re-releases.”

Barrow was unable to give a schedule of the 2014 releases, but most will be from B&F’s 51-album catalogue.

All releases will be in vinyl, compact disc and download format. Blood and Fire got off the mark in 1994 with the compilation album, If Deejay Was Your Trade: The Dreads at King Tubby’s 1974-1977.

When it was being drafted in 1993, the company was ensured financial support from a famous reggae fan — Mick Hucknall of Simply Red.

Barrow says Hucknall was the principal source of funding for Blood and Fire until 1998.

He says the company’s top sellers are the following albums: Heart Of The Congos by the Congos; In The Light (Horace Andy); Darker Than Blue; Soul from Jamdown 1973-1977 (Various Artistes); Jesus Dread (Yabby You); Dub Gone Crazy mixed by King Tubby & Friends and Big Youth’s Natty Universal Dread 1973-1979.

Barrow admits the reggae reissue market in Britain has softened in the last decade. He adds, however, that “there remains a considerable sales potential for this music”.

He says VP’s considerable influence in the reggae world will open new doors for a music that always had a strong following in Britain and Europe.

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