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The Story of Reggae – Lover’s Rock

Written by on January 27, 2019

One of the few aspects of reggae that was purely a British invention. Although incredibly popular,  the lovers rock scene was largely underground. The day after Janet Kay was on Top Of The Pops  with Silly Games at Number     Two, she was late for work.Luckily her boss was            sympathetic.

When roots music carried the swing in the 1970s in        Britain’s young black communities, the women had a       saying – Rastafari was Rasta For Him and not Rasta For Us. In other words there were large number of black kids in the UK who didn’t feel part of roots and culture. They were upwardly mobile, didn’t want to go back to Africa,    listened to a lot of soul music, liked dressing up on a      Saturday night, were open about being influenced by       their environment, but were as proud to be black as any dreadlocked Rastaman.They were a generation that saw themselves as Black British, and they created lovers       rock, the first indigenous black British pop style.            Although the bassline always let you know it was reggae, its light, airey productions it acknowledged such              influences as soul and pop music and its subject matter was almost exclusively devoted to matters of the heart.  Hence the name. It found an enormous market that the  mainstream music business never knew existed, and       labels such as Lovers Rock, Arawak, Santic and           Hawkeye put out a phenomenal amount of product in the late-1970s/early-1980s.

There were sound systems that played nothing but lovers rock and on more than one occasion it bubbled into the  national charts. While the productions were deceptively  sophisticated in many case the vocalists weren’t, but       they were an accurate representation of the style’s        audience – young  girls and likely lads. The trio Brown   Sugar were still at school, another were called 15,16,17 because of their ages, while the grand old ladies of         lover’s rock, Janet Kay and Carroll Thompson, hadn’t yet turned twenty. As far as the guys were concerned it was  largely matter of celebration of self – Victor Romero       Evans sang about putting on his "Slacks And                 Sovereigns" and Trevor Hartley of simply "Hanging        Around".

Lovers rock was also one of the rare instances UK          reggae has influenced Jamaica, as artists like                Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Johnny Osbourne      spent so long in London they got into it and took it back  home with them.


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