TROJAN LOVERS ROCK BOX SET (TJETD292) - By the mid-1970's, Jamaican Reggae had become predominantly pre-occupied with social protests and the religious beliefs of Rastafarianism. While this music continued to find favour among many UK-based Reggae fans, a great number had begun to feel disaffected by the Roots scene and looked to home-based Reggae artists to fulfil their demand for a more romantic style of music. The result was Lovers Rock, a style that from 1976 to the mid-eighties dominated the British Reggae scene.

Reggae has long been influenced by American soul, but Lovers Rock blurred the boundaries to an even greater extent. The soft soul of Chicago's Chi-Lites or the resonance of Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia sounds were mixed with laid back Reggae bass lines and undulating rhythms. Early exponents of the style included Gregory Isaacs' favourites, 15-16-17, alongside artists such as Brown Sugar and Carroll Thompson, although it is widely believed that the teenage vocalist Louisa Mark was the first British artist to score a Lovers hit with the single 'Caught You In A Lie'. That song was recorded through the joint efforts of Matumbi and Lloydie Coxsone, both of whom contribute to this collection. Lloydie appears in the role of a producer for the J Sisters interpretation of the Stylistics 'I CAN'T GIVE YOU ANYTHING (BUT MY LOVE)', while Matumbi, who are sometimes citied as the originators of Lovers Rock perform their lasting hit, 'AFTER TONIGHT'.

However, at the time of these releases, the term 'Lovers Rock' was unheard of. This was until Dennis Harris of Eve Records in South London began releasing a series of love songs on his Lovers Rock label. In the years that followed, Lovers Rock became extremely popular among those inner-city Britons looking for an alternative to political Reggae. Dennis Bovell (of the aforementioned Matumbi) worked alongside Dennis Harris on many of these productions, while independently he continued to produce Lovers hits including our featured tracks from Marie Pierre, 'NOTHING GAINED (FROM LOVING YOU)' and 'CAN'T GO THROUGH WITH LIFE'. He was also the man behind Janet Kay's 'Silly Games', the first Lovers Rock hit to crossover into the UK pop chart. The song had already appeared on Trojan's platinum-selling album Reggae Love Songs (TDSAN001) so we featured her version of Minnie Ripperton's 'LOVING YOU' as a suitable alternative. Janet also performed in a duet with Alton Ellis, (the producer of 'LOVING YOU') on a recut of 'I'M STILL IN LOVE WITH YOU'. Alton is a legend in the Jamaican recording industry and when he embarked on sessions in the UK his unique vocal style graced several hits, notably his production of 'TELEPHONE LINE', a song that was recorded as a duet with Tony Jay and preceded those hits built around ringtones by a quarter of a century.

But I digress, as while never quite as popular back in Jamaica, Lovers Rock was adopted as an alternative style by several major roots Reggae figures. These include our featured lovers, John Holt ('YOU'LL NEVER FIND ANOTHER LOVE LIKE MINE') Gregory Isaacs ('NEXT TO YOU'), and Freddie McGregor ('LOVERS ROCK'), all of whom provide those highlighted hits that grace this set. Dancehall vocalist Sugar Minott also benefited from the style, in spite of being accused of selling out, when he relocated from Jamaica to the UK. He hit big time with 'Good Thing Going' in 1981, but two years earlier had achieved considerable success on the UK and Ja Reggae scene with the wistful Prince Jammy-produced song, 'NEVER TOO YOUNG'. Meanwhile the multi-talented Boris Gardiner topped the UK pop chart with the Lovers style of 'I Wanna Wake Up With you' and came close to repeating the feat with the follow-up, 'YOU'RE EVERYTHING TO ME'. In fact a number of these Jamaican singers enjoyed international chart success, including the aforementioned Sugar Minott, Freddie McGregor and John Holt, alongside Barry Biggs and Errol Dunkeley, whose efforts are also included in our examples of Jamaican Lovers Rock with 'REFLECTIONS OF MY LIFE' and 'PEEK A BOO', respectively.

Our final contributions from Jamaican male vocalists are the late great Delroy Wilson, who performs the Wailers' haunting 'I'M STILL WAITING', Cornell Campbell, whose 1979 cut of 'WHENEVER YOU NEED ME' is among his finest works of the period, Pat Kelly, who the same year revisited one of his old Techniques songs, 'The Time Has Come' (re-titled 'NO LOVE'), Jimmy London, who also reworked one of his old hits, 'A LITTLE LOVE', and finally Fil Callender & The In Crowd, whose 'GETTING COSY' was among the group's more romantic moments.

Although, as we've seen a number of Jamaica's male vocalists recorded Lovers hits, ex-pat artists such as Honey Boy and the lead vocalist from the Cimarons, Winston Reid, also enjoyed a series of hits in the genre. On this collection we've featured the formers lilting 'YOU ARE MINE' and Winston's enormously successful remake of the earlier Cimarons hit 'DIM THE LIGHTS'. And so end the contributions from the guys.

In truth, Lovers rock is often considered a women's thing and was sometimes reviled for the 'sickly, barely trained harmonies and schoolgirl voices', but as we will hear from these Reggae Divas, those dogmatic critics were way off the mark. And there was certainly no shortage of female vocalists who added sweet soulful sounds to a lilting Reggae beat. Although the style is regarded as having emerged in the mid to late seventies, some tunes were re-released on the eve of this genre's success. Artists such as UK-based Jenny Taylor and Dimple Hinds, along with Jamaican songstresses Marcia Griffiths and Sharon Forrester were all forerunners of the movement, as illustrated by their contributions to this set. Jenny Taylor's version of Gene Pitney's 'SOMETHING'S GOTTA HOLD OF MY HEART', Dimple Hinds' reworking of the Toys' 'A LOVERS CONCERTO' and Marcia Griffiths' sublime version of the Manhattans' 'THERE'S NO ME WITHOUT YOU' all date from 1974, while Sharon Forrester's hugely popular rendering of Valerie Simpson's 'SILLY WASN'T I' was issued the year before - long before the style was acknowledged.

By contrast we feature numerous sides cut when Lovers Rock was in full swing, including Yvonne Sterling's 'IF YOU LOVE ME LET ME KNOW', Elizabeth Archer & The Equators' fabulous version of George Benson's 'FEEL LIKE MAKING LOVE' and Pam's 'ABOUT TO LOSE MY MIND'. Back a yard, Jamaican girl such as Dynamic's Betty Padget and Angela Stewart, alongside the late great Hortense Ellis maintained the Jamaican Lovers Rock profile with their versions of 'MY EYES ADORED YOU', 'WHEN LOVE COMES KNOCKING (AT YOUR DOOR)' and 'MY WILLOW TREE' respectively. While sometimes considered passť in Jamaica, the Lovers link was upheld through the efforts of Phil Mathias who, riding on his success with IN Crowd, produced Jennifer Day's equally melodious 'TOGETHER'.

During the early eighties, Lovers continued to find favour among Reggae audiences in the UK, and Jamaican producers, such as Bunny Lee and Alvin Ranglin took full advantage by producing works such as Hortense Ellis' wonderful 'UNEXPECTED PLACES' and Barbara Jones' 'THIS LOVE MAKES ME HAPPY'. The latter had recently enjoyed UK chart success with her version of 'Just When I Needed You Most' and over the next few years cut a series of fine Reggae ballads, including a storming version of that Jennifer Rush belter, 'THE POWER OF LOVE'.

Opponents of Lovers Rock criticised the music for a lack of originality, although our two hits from 1982, Susan Cadogan's 'IF' and Janette Silvera's version of Charlene's 'I'VE NEVER BEEN TO ME' proved that while being inspired by Pop songs, the finished results demonstrated a love of the music rather than being just commercially motivated imitations. These ballads lent themselves to a rub a dub in the dance and by 1985 this inspired the sadly departed Cynthia Schloss and Doreen Schaeffer to join the ranks of Jamaican Lovers with 'SAD MOVIES (ALWAYS MAKE ME CRY)' and 'CHA LA LA, I NEED YOU' from the former and a sublime version of that Dobby Dobson favourite 'THAT WONDERFUL SOUND' from the latter.

In the following year, the British-born sisters, Pam and Audrey Hall were recording in Jamaica, having enjoyed international notoriety with their music. Audrey had recorded 'One Dance Won't do' at Donovan Germaine's Penthouse Studios, while sister Pam relished success with her contribution to the Boops phenomenon ('Dear Boopsie'). Inna Lovers style the girls released our featured tracks - 'HEART OF STONE' and 'I CAN NOT WAIT (NO MORE)' from Audrey, and a stunning take on that Latin jazz standard, 'PERFIDIA' from Pam. Incidentally, Pam's hit rendering of Olivia Newton John's 'PLEASE MR PLEASE' inspired Bunny Lee to produce a version of the song with June Powell that makes a welcome return to a Trojan compilation, having initially surfaced on the long since deleted The Hit Squad - 16 Dynamite Reggae Hits (TRLS 231). June also provides a second example of her work from the same sessions with the 'THE BEST THING FOR ME'.

While many of our Lovers tracks come from Jamaicans, important UK hits around this time included contributions from the veteran singer, Elizabeth 'TT' Ross, who led the way for a number of Caucasian Reggae artistes. These performers added Reggae to the age-old discussion of whether white men or women could sing the blues. However, Ms Ross had a long Reggae pedigree, having first worked with Bunny Lee back in 1970, cutting a series of recordings issued by Trojan under the moniker of Maxine. In the years tat followed, she enjoyed considerable success with a number of UK labels, including Eve, Third World and Pama labels, and by the eighties was one of the more established figures on the Lovers scene. Around 1986, she went back into the studio with producer, Reg Lowe to re-record a number of her big Lovers hits, including 'LAST DATE' and the equally popular 'I WILL', both of which feature on this collection. Reg Lowe also produced a number of other UK-based Lovers acts around this time, including Paula Clarke, whose 'DYNAMIC' and 'SKIP AND DANCE' are both a welcome addition to this box. Around the same time, back in Jamaica, Carol Brown recorded a remarkable rendition of the soul classic 'JUST ENOUGH TO KEEP ME HANGING ON', a song which had first been given the Reggae treatment by David Isaacs back in 1971.

So long as there's love, romantic songs will always be in style, for whenever two become one there's always that special song, which can become all the more exceptional if enhanced by a cool Caribbean beat. We hope that this collection, featuring fifty of the finest Lovers Rock tracks from Jamaica and the UK, will stir many fond memories, while also providing the soundtrack to many new blossoming relationships.

So turn your lights down low and play on.

Stephen Nye




Loviní You
Janet Kay
Unexpected Places
Hortense Ellis
Please, Mr Please
June Powell
Sad Movies (12" mix featuring U Brown)
Cynthia Schloss
Nothing Gained (From Loving You)
Marie Pierre
This Love Makes Me Happy
Barbara Jones
Heart Of Stone
Audrey Hall
That Wonderful Sound
Doreen Schaeffer
My Eyes Adored You
Betty Padget
Feel Like Making Love
Elizabeth Archer & The Equators
Susan Cadogan
Pam Hall
When Love Comes Knocking (12" mix)
Angela Stewart
I Will
T. T. Ross
If You Love Me (Let Me Know)
Yvonne Sterling
I Canít Give You Anything (But My Love) (12" mix)
The J Sisters

Loverís Rock
Freddie McGregor
Reflections In My Life
Barry Biggs & Ruddy Thomas
Dim The Light
Winston Reedy
Never Too Young
Sugar Minott
Getting Cosy (12Ē mix)
Fil Callender & The In Crowd
Peekaboo (12Ē mix)
Errol Dunkley
Youíll Never Find Another Love Like Mine
John Holt
You're Everything To Me
Boris Gardiner
After Tonight
Next To You
Gregory Isaacs
Whenever You Need Me
Cornel Campbell
You Are Mine (12" mix)
No Love
Pat Kelly
I'm Still Waiting (12" mix)
Delroy Wilson
Telephone Line
Alton Ellis & Tony Sexton
A Little Love
Jimmy London

Silly Wasnít I (12Ē mix)
Sharon Forrester
Iím Still In Love With You
Alton Ellis & Janet Kay
Jennifer Day
Can't Go Through Life Without You (12" mix)
Marie Pierre
Iíve Never Been To Me
Janette Silvera
I Can Not Wait (No More)
Audrey Hall
The Power Of Love (12" mix)
Barbara Jones
Skip And Dance
Paula Clarke
Cha La La, I Need You
Cynthia Schloss
The Best Thing For Me
June Powell
My Willow Tree
Hortense Ellis
Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart
Jenny Taylor
There's No Me Without You
Marcia Griffiths
A Lover's Concerto
Dimple Hinds & The Marvels
About To Lose My Mind
Last Date (With You)
T.T. Ross
Just Enough to Keep Me Hanging On (12" mix)
Carol Brown

Time - 72:16

Time - 67:11

Time - 70:18

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