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"Out of many, one..." - Lovers Rock

So, in the first post of "Out of many, one..." (read introduction here) is a spotlight on lovers rock.

Lovers Rock

Amidst the male-dominated Rastafarian takeover of reggae from lovers-centric rocksteady, first generation black British Afro-Caribbean's sought to create a genre reflecting their various influences and matching the mood of their parties otherwise known as "blues dance" or "shubeen". )"Shub" means to push or squeeze; "Een" is Jamaican pronunciation for "in".)

Most parties were in people's living rooms or vacant houses, because venues didn't allow the blacks throw parties in their establishment. Remember, it wasn't unfamiliar to see "No blacks, no Irish, no dogs" notices hung on houses with rooms to rent, so little chance of hiring a venue like nowadays.

Today's dance of choice amongst third generation black Brit's of Caribbean descent is bouncing around, a two-step, house shuffle or [insert other anti-social moves] on your own, whereas in the '70s men and women would "crub" against wallpaper. I think "crub" is an abbreviation of scrub. Can't really do that to afro-centric songs about truth and rights.

Lovers rock was the complete opposite to the popular sounds in Jamaica such as the Mighty DiamondsBob Marley & The Wailers and Wailing Souls etc.; as the genre title suggests love tales were order the day, mainly voiced by heartbroken females (often with questionable vocals lol). And there's a difference between a love song in reggae/rocksteady and that of lovers rock. Lovers rock had a cleaner cut, usually incorporating more lush soulful production.

Louisa Mark - "Six Sixth Street" is an example of a timeless classic, beautifully crafted with emotive instrumental matched by a relatable tale of catching her lover cheating. Her tender yet piercing vocals and honesty make it had to not feel sorry for her when she asks "Why just down the road from me so I could see? And all the people round they could laugh at me." Not sure if this is an original song or cover of an obscure soul song (can't find any evidence to support the latter), but it's great.


Brown Sugar - "I'm In Love With A Dreadlocks" meets in the middle of the conscious movement and lovers rock. Brown Sugar featured Caron Wheeler, who'd go on to be lead vocalist on Soul II Soul's signature transatlantic hits "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" and "Keep on Movin'"


Janet Kay - "Silly Games" is probably the quintessential lovers rock song. Mention the genre and everyone will do their best-worst attempt at singing this. I say "best-worst" because Ms. Kay's vocals weren't the strongest. Nor average, but that's irrelevant, you don't have to sing well to be a successful singer. The Dennis Bovell-produced "Silly Games" peaked at number 2 in the national UK single charts despite a lot of resistance from major radio. Nothing has changed. Janet Kay went on to capitalise on the surprising success of lovers rock in Japan, constantly touring and releasing material over there.



There are numerous examples of Jamaican artists embracing the softer,  more-soulful UK-styled production including Dennis Brown on commercial attempt "Love Has Found It's Way" and Penthouse records Donovan Germaine's artists like Wayne Wonder and Beres Hammond, but the biggest lovers rock song by a Jamaican has to be Sugar Minott. Roots Lovers saw the artists demand in Britain outweigh that of Jamaica. Signature song "Good Thing Going" reached #4 in UK charts in 1981 eclipsing the original 1971 recording by some guy called Michael Jackson.




As with most forms of Jamaican music, there is a huge commercial crossover song by someone that isn't authentic. Greatest example I can think of is Culture Club - headed by the ever-controversial Boy George - landing their first number 1 (in 10 charts including UK) with "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" which drew heavily from the lovers rock scene. They were kept off top spot in US by Michael Jackson's easily forgettable "Billie Jean"... 



For modern day lovers rock, I recommend Adele Harley based on her cover of "Sixth Street"



Be sure to check out the huge success Lovers Rock documentary which came as a surprise to many cinemas that had to hold on to showings for longer due to public demand

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