Various This Is Lovers Rock

This is a welcome addition to any North American reggae fan’s collection. The UK produced a great deal of quality reggae from the mid-’70s onwards but only a few acts broke through to the U.S. and Canada. Most prominent were either roots bands like Steel Pulse and Aswad or dub poets like Linton Kwesi Johnson. At the time, the dominant form in the UK was lover’s rock, which made nary an impression across the ocean. Some very representative tracks and artists are included here. Roots fans may be put off at the non-stop, lovey dovey, near-bubblegum-style content throughout. These songs draw from ’60s soul in terms of drama but are executed over rock solid rhythms. Since this collection draws from the ’80s, drum machines eventually overtake the proceedings but in a way that was emulating American and British R&B productions at the time rather than Jamaican dancehall. Some of these tracks are too sickly sweet but it’s a fine collection of an overlooked style of reggae from round these parts. (Greensleeves)