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 realize 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 two 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 Brightlyat the controls. Around the 1980s, 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 difference between the connection of 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 Ragga / 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 own Crew rather than to socialize with others in the dance. I often get a little tip from cohorts not to smile but to look serious when entering into the Bashment raves, as a common feature seems to be all about getting respect!