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Lovers rock

Definition

Lovers Rock is Britain's main contribution to reggae. A style which developed in the UK in the 1970s, Lovers Rock represented an apolitical counterpoint to the conscious Rastafarian sound dominant in Jamaica. Rooted in the sound systems of South London, the style had particular appeal amongst women and produced many female stars including Carol Thompson, Louisa Marks and Janet Kay, who went on to reach Number 2 in the UK pop charts with "Silly Games" in 1979. Lovers rock is a more lovers style of music and a music derived from reggae by the slowing down of the reggae beat. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovers_Rock [Sept 2005]

Lovers rock

Think of London's dance culture, which goes back long before rave to when Jamaicans first imported their sound system culture of heavy bass pressure, "blues" (illegal all-night parties), and ganja. The result has been a continuum of creole music: lover's rock, Soul II Soul's "funki dread" sound (imported American soul meets reggae, but only in London), breakbeat hardcore and jungle, today's UK underground garage and 2-step. Or take Bristol, another UK city with a long established multiracial presence, but which produced its own quite differently inflected cross-breed: the Pop Group's dub-funk-jazz charged version of postpunk, trip hop. All of these hybrid sounds have an element of evolutionary random-ness about them, and reflect not just sonic recombination but social exchanges, reciprocal transfers of behavior and ideas. Compare these slowly spawned hybrids with the fusions hatched in laboratory-like conditions by the likes of Bill Laswell. The organic versus synthetic metaphor is perhaps too loaded, but there does seem to be a difference here between interbreeding/grafts and cut'n'paste/collage, a contrast possibly analogous to the difference between analog and digital. Where the first set of hybrids (jungle, 2step, etc) are productively contaminated with the mess of everyday life and street knowledge, the second set has an unmistakeable aura of sterility, the academic. -- Simon Reynolds, 2001

Trip hop

With a significant proportion of the British youth, regardless of colour, now grounded in Hip-Hop culture, the new UK Dance era was well and truly under way and it wouldnt be long before musicians and DJs here began to create their own hybrid styles, most notably in Bristol where Electro was fused with the reggae vibes of dub and Lovers Rock, to bring about a unique flavour that would later be known as trip-hop. --Greg Wilson

Hustle! - Reggae Disco (2002) - Various Artists

  • Hustle! - Reggae Disco (2002) - Various Artists [Amazon.com]
    1. Ring my bell - Blood Sisters 2. Don't stop till you get enough - Laro, Derrick & Trinity 3. I'm every woman - Latisha 4. Don't let it go to your head - Black Harmony (1) 5. Reggae beat goes on - Family Choice 6. Rapper's delight - Xanadu & Sweet Lady 7. Upside down - Carol Cool 8. Be thankful - One Blood

    Eccentric stuff, this. On their excellent Studio One Soul compilation, the Soul Jazz label provided an engrossing history of how American R&B informed reggae, destroying the assumption that Jamaican music evolved in some kind of splendid isolation. Now, Hustle takes that story to the next level, by uncovering the frequently weird impact disco had on reggae.

    For most of this engaging album, the focus shifts from 1970s Jamaica to 1980s London, where the Lover's Rock school of gentle reggae seemed more open to absorbing Studio 54 glitz and recycling it at a languorous pace. Hence Carol Cool makes a far better hash of "Upside Down" than Diana Ross ever did, attacking it with an endearingly tinny horn section and blipping electro effects that could've been provided by a primitive video game.

    True, the quality of this music hardly measures up to the Studio One productions that dominate Soul Jazz's compilations. But it's still endlessly fascinating, for here's proof that some reggae was in thrall to the tackiest American music at a time when so many punks were mythologising its supposed rootsiness. This is a magically impure music that complicates tidy cultural stereotypes. And, on Xanadu & Sweet Lady's glorious version of "Rapper's Delight" (one of the few Jamaican tracks here), it points the way to the marvellous ragga/hip-hop hybrids so prevalent in Kingston right now. --John Mulvey via Amazon.co.uk

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