Even though a romantic and soft side of reggae has been heard ever since the late 60’s with artists such as Delroy Wilson, John Holt and Ken Boothe, it wasn’t until the mid to late 70’s it became a genre in its own right.
Lovers rock heralds from the UK and evolved as an alternative to the political and militant roots music dominating the 70’s. Lovers rock is not particularly well-suited for riots or uprisings, but rather for late night dances and intimate moments between silky sheets.
Songs like Janet Kay’s Silly Games, Louisa Mark’s cover of Bobby Parker’s Caught You in a Lie or Brown Sugar’s I’m in Love With a Dreadlocks helped to make the genre popular and are today regarded as classics.
Menelik Shabazz’s documentary The Story of Lover’s Rock tells the story of a hostile environment characterized by discrimination. It’s a story about escaping the harsh reality and the search for identity in a divided British society marked by racism. But also about thirsting for love and losing love.
Maxi Priest, Janet Kay, Kofi, the late Jean Adebambo, Winsome and Tippa Irie are just a small portion of artists interviewed. And they are telling stories of where the genre came from, the people behind it and what it has meant to generations of musicians and listeners. They also cover other aspects, such as its future, how it gave women a voice and how it has travelled from the UK to Japan and Brazil.
The many stories are also told through dance moves and music and vivid comedy performances.
Menelik Shabazz has made a thorough exercise in music history. It’s obvious that he has great love of the music and its culture, which might have contributed to making the film unfocused at times. There are too many subjects, too many stories to be told.
But as a lover of music in general and reggae music in particular, you can’t but sit down, relax and enjoy the tale of one of Britain’s finest export products.