Various Artists

In Progress

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Although Misty in Roots never gained the international recognition of their contemporaries Aswad and Steel Pulse, together these three bands formed a British roots triumvirate. The group formed in the mid-'70s, then backed and opened for a coterie of visiting Jamaican stars. With the rise of punk, Misty's appeal broadened, their personal ethos dovetailed with the punks' own, and the group worked tirelessly within the Rock Against Racism movement. Refusing a number of major label offers, Misty launched their own independent People Unite label as an outlet for themselves and like-minded bands. Most memorably, the label released white reggae heroes the Ruts' debut single, "In a Rut." In Progress is a People Unite compilation from 1984, a showcase for Misty and three of their current artists, with each performing two tracks. Misty offers up two tough cultural numbers, each clad in the group's signature softer roots-meets-rockers style. Members of the band also accompany schoolgirl songstress Pauline, creating a poppier roots template that wonderfully sets off her strong, emotive alto and her self-penned Rastafarian-themed songs. In a male-dominated genre like reggae, Misty actively promoted female artists, and besides Pauline, the album also features African Woman. This all-female septet created a liltingly light roots sound, boasting strong vocals and harmonies, and focused on upbeat consciousness numbers. Abacush's lineup is female dominant as well. The band offers a nice take on a rootsy steppers style. Although there's nothing particularly musically groundbreaking here, the U.K. roots scene wasn't so much looking to break musical barriers as to pull down communal divides. All of these groups successfully do that, while filtering Jamaican styles through British ears, creating a lovely, lighter, more European-driven sound. In these respects, In Progress was indeed revolutionary.