Dennis Bovell has earned himself the reputation of being Britain’s Reggae maestro, from pioneering early developments in the genre over 40 years ago to producing classic hits. He is renowned as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist (playing guitar, bass and keyboards), sound engineer, composer, band leader and producer and continues to lead the UK scene with innovative and adventurous music.
Born in Barbados in 1953, Dennis Bovell joined his parents in London when he was twelve. Whilst still at school, Bovell joined his first band, Road Works Ahead, before forming the group Stonehenge. Influenced by Rocksteady, this band gave birth to the three-part harmony section that was later to become the trademark of Bovell’s next group, Matumbi, formed in 1970. Matumbi (meaning ‘reborn’ in Yoruba) were to become Britain’s premier Reggae band at a time when the genre was spreading from Jamaica to a wider international audience. After a period backing visiting Jamaican artists such as Pat Kelly and Ken Booth, the band enhanced their reputation further with a string of successful singles. After Tonight, the band’s first hit, is to this day played on continuous rewind in the Revival Hall of Fame and another single, The Man In Me is regarded as a British Reggae classic. In 1979, Matumbi reached the UK Top Ten charts with Point Of View. Altogether the band made four albums for major label, EMI.
At the same time Bovell was building his formidable reputation as a musician, producer and sound engineer, collaborating with great artists including I-Roy, Steel Pulse, Errol Dunkley and Johnny Clarke. After leaving Matumbi, Bovell continued to diversify his musical talents. He produced Janet Kay’s huge hit Silly Games, which reached number two in the UK charts in 1979 and opened his own recording facility Studio 80. Bovell also formed the Dub Band, beginning an enduring partnership with Reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson which has resulted in classic albums including Forces Of Victory (1979), Bass Culture (1980), Tings An’ Times (1991) and LKJ in Dub: Volumes One and Two (1981, 1992). It has also meant tours around the world playing to audiences from South Africa to Sweden, from Japan to Germany.
The 1980s saw Bovell in great demand as a producer, working with bands as diverse as The Slits, Chalice, The Thompson Twins and Bananarama. He re-mixed albums for the great Marvin Gaye as well as Wet Wet Wet and The Boomtown Rats and worked closely with Nigerian Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Other great artists that Bovell has worked with include Alpha Blondy, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Edwin Collins and Pablo Moses. Bovell has also carved a niche out for himself in the world of television and film. He was the musical director for the film Babylon and for the TV series The Boy Who Won the Pools (ITV). He wrote the theme music for the Channel 4 documentary series The Bandung File and for the BBC 2 programme Rhythms Of The World.
Throughout this period Bovell continued his career as a solo artist, releasing a number of albums: A Who Seh Go Deh; Leggo A Fi We Dis; I Wah Dub; Higher Ranking Scientific Dub; Yu Learn; Strictly Dubwise, Brain Damage and Audio Active. His 1993 release Tactics was lauded as ‘assured, polished Reggae from a master producer and musician’ (Elle magazine) and featured a wealth of great musicians such as Rico Rodriquez (trombone), Eddie Thornton (trumpet) and Steve Gregory (flute and saxophone). Bovell’s 1997 album Dub Of Ages with its 10 inspired tracks continued the Dub excursions which began over 25 years ago when Bovell began making exclusive cuts for his sound system Sufferers Hi-Fi. It also heralded Bovell’s 25th year in the music business. To date, Dennis Bovell continues to record, produce and play live all over the world.
Lovers Rock Sensation
Deneez Peters is the latest Lovers Rock sensation to hit the airwaves and her community. With her succulent vocal chords and inspiring lyrics which ‘Can’t Get You Off My Mind’ has to offer, this song will leave a lasting impression and have you humming along to the catchy tune. It was written by her brother Ian Peters with musical arrangement by The iFoundation… Hailing from the heart of South London, Deneez is the daughter of Jamaican parents, Mr & Mrs Peters who, ensured her upbringing was one of respect and to be respected in whichever path she decided to venture in. From a young age, one of her musical influences was her father, Freddie Notes. In the early ‘70s, Feddie worked with The Rudies and produced an album entitled ‘Montego Bay’. “I can remember when I was young my dad taking me to his shows… watching him perform on stage back then and still do has always been an inspiration for me”. Her father taught her a lot about his experiences in the music business and, whether good or bad back in his days, she has absorbed it all in.
Deneez has always had a passion to be a singer just like her father and, at the tender age of 18, decided to make that passion a reality. Working alongside her brother (songwriter), Ian decided to put his written words to songs and came up with a duo called VelveTouch consisting of Deneez and Stacey back in the mid to late ‘80s. VelveTouch became very popular in and around London with their commercial Soul combined with ‘80s fashion – which was none to be reckoned with – performing in Schools, Colleges and Park Festivals. They were promoted on local radio and in local magazines such as ‘Rhythm & Blues’. They were approached by the manager of Mel & Kim at the time who wanted to move their career forward but this did not come to fruition! However, that didn’t stop them from pursuing their goals. Some of the top songs they promoted were ‘VelveTouch’ and ‘Free & Single’ followed up by ‘Boyz’. All these songs were written by Ian with music production at the time from Derek Février. VelveTouch would later fade and go their separate ways in 1990.
Deneez eventually released her first single as a solo artist entitled ‘Touch And Go’ on Diamond Records (a subsidiary of Gem Stones Records) – an upbeat dance tune which incorporated her Rap style vocal addition to it. A rendition of SOS Band ‘No One’s Gonna Love You’ was next on the agenda but was only released on promo. Whilst working on her album, she was introduced to Wee Papa Girl Rappers and managed to secure a deal doing backing vocals for them as well as an ‘Extra’ in the making of their video for a track called ‘Get In The Groove’. They appeared on the ‘Hitman & Her’ Live at the Discotheque Royale in Manchester in 1990.
In 1994, Deneez took up modelling and joined the Laurie Small Academy of Modelling where she achieved a distinction award on completion of her hard work. This led her to partake in various Fashion Shows around the UK and eventually into Beauty Pageants... winning titles such as Miss Beautiful Legs, Miss Afro Caribbean UK, Miss Pioneer and Miss Jamaica UK. In October 1996, she went into acting and took a leading role in a community play. Over the next decade, Deneez continued to perform at various venues until she took up an interest in becoming a Disc Jockey and has never looked back. She started out DJing at her local Public House in Vauxhall and then, 6 months later, her local community radio station and has been Presenting and DJing ever since. She can be heard every Saturday 4-6pm on her ‘Soul In Motion Show’ on Loversrockradio.com
Deneez is working on completing her new Lovers Rock album – the first release ‘Can’t Get You Off My Mind’ is currently No.2 on the official UK Reggae chart. The follow-up single ‘So Much Pain’ will be released shortly. In the meantime, you can find the video to her first release on Youtube. You can also find Deneez working alongside her father Freddie Notes on various shows as his backing vocalist and supporting act having recently performed with him in Germany.
GIANTS OF LOVERS ROCK PART 4
For the fourth year running, Musical Therapy brings back the ever popular Giants of Lovers Rock concert to the Indigo2.
With a stellar line-up of over 25 Lovers Rock artists including Barry Biggs who scored four top 40 hits notably, ‘Sideshow’ that peaked at No. 3 in the UK’s national charts. The popular Janet Kay with her No. 1 smash ‘Silly Games’ alongside her fellow Queens, Kofi, Carroll Thompson and Sandra Cross promise to make this year’s event even bigger and better than before.
The full roll call is Carroll Thompson, Sandra Cross, Kofi, Marie Pierre, Janet Kay, Sonia Ferguson, Winsome, 15-16-17, Adele Harley, Janet Leigh-Davis, Lady Lex, Trevor Walters, Peter Hunnigale, Tradition featuring Paul Dawkins, Vivian Jones, Chosen Few featuring AJ Franklyn, Leroy Simmonds, Eargasm featuring Dennis Pinnock, Michael Gordon, Don Campbell, Barry Biggs, Victor Romero Evans, Lovella Ellis and Sister Love featuring Ika.
In total, this Showcase will feature a staggering 40 songs which have all topped the UK Reggae charts and are some of the best loved Lovers Rock anthems.
For more info call Musical Therapy on 07877 799 455
British Lovers Rock At Its Best
Highly regarded as one of the original cornerstones and leading forces of the UK’s ‘Lovers Rock’ era, Sandra Cross has well over twenty years of experience in the music industry. She has graced many a stage throughout Europe, America and Japan as headline act and during this time, has blessed us with twelve albums and numerous singles which were duly rewarded with seven international music awards. She has become one of the most successful and respected singing talents coming out of the UK. Born and raised in London, Sandra is the only girl amongst seven boy siblings. She was introduced to music at the tender age of seven when she was chosen as lead vocalist for her local church choir. Her parents were strict Pentecostal Church-goers, so it was there her talents for playing the piano, singing and writing songs were initially discovered.
In 1979, Sandra penned her first number one hit titled ‘I Adore You’ but, it was during the outbreak of the UK’s Lovers Rock movement of the early ‘80s that her musical career took off. The hits kept on coming as she topped global Reggae charts with songs like ‘Put It On’ and the massive ‘Country Living’. Naturally, her popularity in the Reggae industry grew and she became one of the most admired Lovers Rock singers in the business being voted ‘Britain’s Best Female Reggae Singer’ by BBC Radio Listeners for six consecutive years (1986 -1991). In 2008, she released the song ‘Someone Special’ (her answer to Taurus Riley’s ‘She’s Royal’) to rave reviews. And, her official comeback to the music industry was celebrated worldwide with the 2009 release of the album ‘Now’ which is still creating a storm in the international markets. ‘Laptops And Facebook’ is Sandra’s latest joint, produced by Carlton ‘Dillie’ McLeod (Stingray Records), slated for release late 2011. The set promises to deliver an abundance of life experiences that all can relate to in one way or another.
Kenny V Passley exhalts the Pioneers of the UK's Lovers Rock Music
A wonderful period in the history of Reggae music in Britain was the ‘Lovers Rock’ era although, at the time, some were moaning that it wasn’t real Reggae. But they didn’t realise how great that era was until the Dancehall [Bashment] phase came in around 1983 when they would play Studio One riddims like ‘Bobby Babylon’ for an hour and a half and have fifteen Deejays chat on it until people got tired. Lovers’ Rock, as we know it, basically started in 1975 with the success of Louisa Mark’s ‘Caught You In A Lie’ - a little experiment produced by Lloydie Coxsone backed by Matumbi’s Dennis Bovell. By 1978, it was everywhere, Janet Kay had a number one hit in the British Pop charts with ‘Silly Games’ and producers looked everywhere for ‘school-girl’ singers to do big business with. Mention Tradition, Revelation, Carol Thompson, Sandra Cross, Brown Sugar, Black Harmony, Jean Adebambo, 15-16-17, Sister Love, Matumbi, One Blood, Arema, Winsome, Sugar Minott or Investigators and you’d get the attention of most ravers from back then.
One of the best Lovers Rock Sound Systems in this country during that era was ‘Sir George’ with Anthony Brightly at the controls. Around the ‘80s, they played at the Cubbies club in Dalston, East London and had over eight hundred people every Sunday night, Lovers Rocking away. Since the beginning, Reggae had always been international music but in an underground sort of way. But not everyone knows this, in particular, many of the younger generation in England at present. So many are brainwashed, ashamed of their West Indian heritage and don’t support it. With more people integrated these days and earning more money, this has caused a shift in the social class of Black people resulting in many getting involved in the ‘trendy’ practice of finding excitement in other quarters, musically and socially.
A more obvious thing about Lovers Rock is the connection between man and woman in the dances of the past and now. There was a lot of music played back then to bring people together - holding a total stranger tight and rocking away all night long was almost compulsory. However, since the invasion of Dancehall music especially Bashment, it seems that it’s not the done thing to be seen dancing with each other. The youth nowadays seem to prefer the company of their crew members rather than to socialise with others in the dance. I often get a little tip from escorts not to smile but to look serious when entering into the Bashment raves, as a common feature seems to be all about getting respect!