History of Lover’s Rock

The term Lovers Rock Inadvertently came from a South London Based label of the same name. The name summed up the style of the moment just as the male dominant conscious drum and bass style was beginning to wear thin and the female vocalists were deciding to do their own thing. With a softer approach to life but utilizing “a ruff and tuff” baseline, Lovers Rock made people just want to get closer and music proved to be the key. Very soon, Lovers Rock began to outsell traditional roots music.

The names Janet Kay, Jean Adebambo, Brown Sugar, Louisa Marks, Carol Thompson, 15,16, 17, Trevor Walters, Caron Wheller were synonymous with the 70s and 80s musical revolution. Over the years the owner of Ariwa, the Mad Professor has covered over 100 soul singles into Lovers Rock. Artiste such as Kofi, John Mclean, Intense, and Sandra Cross had several hits for the Ariwa label and made significant contribution to the growth of Lovers Rock.

Considered the Sly & Robbie of England, brothers Mafia & Fluxy (Leroy and Dave Heywood) have played a tremendous role in getting Lover Rock and British reggaea music recognized. The two have produced several UK artisites such as Sylvia Tella, Vivian Jones, Peter Hunnigale to name a few. They have been in demand that they have journeyed to Jamaica to lay tracks for Penthouse, Harmony House, Gregory Issacs, Dennis Brown and several others.

While there are always exceptions to the rule, true or pure Lovers Rock is made up of five major ingredients. Firstly, if a song is covered it must be done with the artiste’s owns individual style and feel. A love song covered in reggae does not necessarily fall in the Lovers Rock category. Secondly, a strong presence of Horns (usually saxophone) and mellow keyboards is always a key to identifying Lovers Rock. Thirdly, sometimes there is usually an introduction or prelude before the actual beginning of the song.

Fourthly, it is essential that the baseline must be hard, but yet round, smooth, steady and consistent. Finally, the song must be loaded with harmonies. Usually, if a song does not have some element of these criteria it cannot be considered Lovers Rock.

Over the years some of the Jamaican artistes who have become known as Lovers Rock artiste on the UK scene are Sugar Minott, Beres Hammond, John Holt, Alton Ellis, Freddie McGregor, Sanchez, Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown. More recently Benji Myaz and Mikey Spice have been added to the list of newcomers.

Currently, in the UK the top Lovers Rock artiste are Peter Hunnigale (British male vocalist 1997/8), Vivian Jones (British male vocalist 1991), Slim Batson, Richie Davis, Lloyd Brown, Don Campbell, Neville Morrision, Mike Anthony and Nereus Joseph, Don Ricardo. Among the female vocalists are Sylvia Tella (British female vocalist 1997/8), Janet Lee Davis and Debbie Gordon.