Have you ever even heard of a smooth type of British music called Lovers Rock?
Me either. But don't let that stop you from checking out this alternately
entertaining and educational documentary detailing the history of what was
actually a very influential, if underappreciated, genre.
Directed by Barbados-born Brit Menelik Shabazz, The Story of Lovers Rock
chronicles how the unique sound became the rage around London back in the
Seventies. A blend of apolitical reggae and American-style R&B, it was created
by the young offspring of Caribbean immigrants living in Brixton and other
ghettos in England.
Signed by fledgling record companies, many of the performers soon found fame but
without reaping any financial rewards, because they were routinely ripped-off by
unscrupulous businessmen. ("Once you are a producer, you are a thief.") I
suppose this development was no surprise, given the long legacy of exploited
black entertainers and the fact that these stars were so young, such as Louisa
Mark, who had her first hit at the tender age of 14.
The victims' tales of woe recounted here range from an admission that "I never
saw a royalty statement" to overwhelming regret about being paid only a flat 6½
pounds for tunes that climbed the charts. Yet, to this day, they all still have
loyal followings not only in Great Britain, but Japan, Brazil, Argentina,
Venezuela, Australia and New Zealand.
Perhaps the movie's most enlightening and telling history lesson lies in its
delineating the enormous impact of Lovers Rock on the next generation of white
British musicians. For groups from The Police to Boy George's Culture Club to
UB40 would go on to enjoy phenomenal success by incorporating a
suspiciously-similar combination of reggae and soul into their
You can add The Story of Lovers Rock to the short list of must-see,
politically-tinged documentaries which shed light on the cultural roots of a
lesser-known sound, in much the same way that instant screen classics like
Buena Vista Social Club have done for Trinidad and Cuba,
respectively. Three cheers to the talented Menelik Shabazz for making such a
delightful, informative and thought-provoking cinematic contribution for the