A rough guide to the genre of music known as Lovers Rock
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Lovers Rock adj. romantic style of reggae music cultivated on the London reggae scene, c. 1975-1985.
While contemporary strands of reggae (dub, roots, rocksteady etc) were becoming increasingly politicised and serious, Lovers Rock maintained a clearer focus on more lightweight, romantic topics, taking its cue mainly from Philadelphia and Chicago’s soul and R&B templates.
Origins Cultivated principally by British artists in south London during the late 70s and early 80s, Lovers Rock is said to have begun in earnest with 15-year-old Louisa Mark’s 1975 hit, 'Caught You In A Lie'.
Key figures Unsurprisingly, it was popular with women: Janet Kay, Carroll Thompson, the young Mark and ‘Queen of Lovers Rock’ Deborahe Glasgow. Kay worked with key producer Dennis Bovell (of British reggae dons Matumbi and also the engineer at Dip Records – later re-named Lovers Rock) – to record ‘Silly Games’, a UK number two in 1979. A teenage Glasgow worked as Debbie G with Neil ‘Mad Professor’ Fraser (most famous for the Massive Attack remix album, No Protection in 1995), the dub maestro at the start of his own career, before cutting her definitive, eponymous album almost a decade later in 1989. This record included the song ‘Champion Lover’, which Shabba Ranks consequently re-worked as ‘Mr Loverman’, scoring a massive hit in 1994. Maxi Priest and Aswad are perhaps the most famous male British artists who became associated with the style, which continued throughout the 80s and 90s, mainly via labels such as Greensleeves, Fashion and Revue and, memorably, Boris Gardiner’s syrupy 1986 smash, ‘I Want To Wake Up With You’.
You’re likely to hear some Lovers Rock at clubs such as Messenger, The Bongo Club, Saturday 23 April; Passa Passa Reggae Night, Wee Red Bar, Sunday 24 April, and any Mungo’s HiFi’s nights in Glasgow.
Hobbes is resident at Devil Disco Club and Wonky, Bongo Club, Edinburgh.