Lovers rock

Lovers rock

For other uses, see Lovers Rock (disambiguation).
Lovers rock is a style of reggae music noted for its romantic sound and content. While love songs had been an important part of reggae since the late 1960s, the style was given a greater focus and a name in London in the mid 1970s.


The roots of Lovers Rock lie in the early days of reggae, with Jamaican singers such as Ken Boothe, Johnny Nash, and John Holt enjoying international hits with reggae versions of well-known love songs.

A style suited to the London reggae scene, Lovers rock represented an apolitical counterpoint to the conscious Rastafarian sound dominant in Jamaica at the time. It combined the smooth soul sounds of Chicago and Philadelphia soul with reggae basslines and rhythms. Rooted in the Sound systems of South London, the style had particular appeal amongst women and produced many female stars including Carroll Thompson, and Louisa Marks, who aged 14 was the first British artist to have a lovers rock hit with her version of Bobby Parker's "Caught You in a Lie" in 1975, which was followed by Ginger Williams' "Tenderness". The husband and wife production team of Dennis and Eve Harris then had a big hit with T.T. Ross's "Last Date", and Dennis Harris then set up a new label, Lovers Rock, along with John Kpiaye and Dennis Bovell, which gave the new genre a name.

South London trio Brown Sugar (including a young Caron Wheeler, later of Soul II Soul) pioneered a subgenre, 'conscious lovers', with songs such as "I'm In Love With a Dreadlocks" and "Black Pride". Others who released records in this subgenre included the Battersea songstress Winsome. Lovers Rock became a staple of London's sound systems such as Chicken Hi-Fi, Success Sound, and Soferno B. Neil "Mad Professor" Fraser would be a key Lovers Rock producer, working with Deborahe Glasgow, while Bovell would produce one of the genre's biggest hits, Janet Kay's "Silly Games", which reached number 2 in the UK Singles Chart in 1979. Although noted for the preponderance and youth of its female exponents, the new style produced its fair share of male stars as well, notably Trevor Walters and Winston Reedy.

Subsequently, numerous well-established Jamaican acts came to try their hand at the new sound. Most successful among these were Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Sugar Minott, and later Freddie McGregor. Brown's "Money In My Pocket" (#14 in 1979) and Minott's "Good Thing Going" (#4 in 1981) were both big hits in the UK Singles Chart.

The popularity of Lovers Rock has continued, and in the 1980s the Fashion label was hugely successful with UK audiences, and the Revue label had a major hit in 1986 with Boris Gardiner's "I Wanna Wake Up With You". In the 1990s the likes of Mike Anthony, Peter Hunnigale, and Donna Marie enjoyed huge success with the genre, and several British stars have performed at Reggae Sunsplash.

See also


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