BLACK Britons expressed their rage at social injustice by listening to roots-reggae in the 1970s. For a change in pace, they tuned in to lovers rock.
Vivian Jones is a lovers rock pioneer. The Trelawny-born singer had a hit song with Good Morning in 1979, two years after the genre emerged from the United Kingdom’s underground scene.
A UK resident since 1968, Jones has been to Jamaica several times during the past year for recording sessions with producers Sly and Robbie and Bobby Digital.
Songs from those collaborations will likely make it on to his next album, scheduled for release this year.
Despite changing trends in the UK over the past two decades, Jones stays true to lovers rock, which he says is enjoying a resurgence in the UK.
“It’s getting bigger because people want the real reggae and lovers rock is real reggae,” he said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.
Jones credits the sound’s second coming largely to London-born singer Bitty McLean, whose 2005 album, On Bond Street Kingston, Jamaica, rocked UK radio stations and clubs on the strength of songs like Walk Away From Love and Make it With You.
Last year, McLean recorded The Taxi Sessions, produced by Sly and Robbie. Jones says that album has maintained his momentum and helped keep lovers rock alive even without help from mass media.
“He’s done wonderful work and continues to launch,” Jones noted. “We don’t have the charts and magazines anymore that exposed the artistes, but all the counties have clubs and they have to play Bitty and other lovers rock singers.”
Jones grew up in Harlesden, a community in London that has a strong West Indian community. He started as a deejay on sound systems in the UK capital but really made a name as a singer when lovers rock exploded through home-grown bands like Matumbi and sound systems in the late 1970s.
Dennis Bovell (Matumbi’s founder), Peter Hunningale, Janet Kay, Maxi Priest and Jones helped take the sound mainstream during the early 1980s.
Jones has released over 20 albums to date, most of them self-produced. His last set, Lovers Rocking, was released in November.