Review : Various Artists - Harmony, Melody and Style: Lovers Rock and Rare Groove in the UK 1975-92
PitchforkThe high-pitched organ and even higher-pitched vocals of the then 14-year-old Louisa Mark singing, "You said she was your cousin, but I found out that she wasn't," dot not only the beginning of the anthemic 1975 UK hit "Caught You in a Lie", but also the beginning of a truly British style of reggae. Her cover of a New Orleans R&B tune from the 1960s is emblematic of the sweet, soaring feminine sound of what became known as lovers rock. A light-hearted answer to the serious revolutionary vibes of roots reggae, and characterized by the synthesized sounds common to music of the mid 1970s through to the 80s, lovers rock is a perfect mix of rockers reggae, soul, R&B and a touch of disco. Drawing on the music of the U.S., UK, and Jamaica, this music can lean in a number of directions, from the laid-back reggae of Caroll Thompson's "Sing me a Love Song" to a track like "All Night Long", a Mary Jane Girls cover by La Famille that's driven by an R&B beat.
Harmony, Melody and Style, a new compilation on Soul Jazz, showcases this music, that of the first generations of British West Indians, many of whose parents had crossed the Atlantic, stepping off the Empire Windrush to look for work in post-war England. Whereas reggae soundtracked the post-independence years in Jamaica, it was lovers rock that provided romantic respite from the racial tensions, riots, and oppression of the 70s and 80s in the UK. The voices of young women like Mark dominated the genre, reflected in this 25-track, 2xCD compilation, which contains but five songs voiced by men....full text
RecordcollectormagLoverís rock is having a bit of a revival, what with a movie, gigs, talks and some nice new tunes from labels such as Peckings and Nu Edge. Harmony, Melody & Style gathers 25 tunes from the musicís 70s and 80s heyday and does a good job, turning up big ďhitsĒ such as Louisa Marksí still-astonishing Caught You In A Lie (the vengeful woman style), Jean Adebamboís Paradise (the Deniece Williams-esque honeyed style), and La Familleís All Night Long (the rare groove style, after the Mary Jane Girlsí original).
Deeper digging unearths the likes of Eva Smartís lick of Diana Rossís Upside Down, and Anthony Brightlyís I Love You Ė the kind of tune that kept ravers rocking belly-to-belly at his Saturday night dance at his house in Tottenham (though it was the A-side, Sandra Reidís Ooh Boy, not here, that people bought the 12Ē for). Those who think loverís is all goo might be surprised by Kofiís Black Pride, a remake of her mid-70s single with Brown Sugar that bears the unmistakable stamp of the Mad Professorís studio. A thoroughly pleasant, if inevitably non-comprehensive, look at a brand of reggae that remains underexposed and misunderstood. ...full text
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