Review: The King & City label is the subject of three 12" reissues, starting with One Blood's classic Lovers Rock take of William DeVaughn's soul anthem, Be Thankful.
Taking the influence of reggae from the Caribbean diaspora within the cultural melting pot of 70s London, the birth of Lovers Rock, often-dubbed 'romantic reggae', is a uniquely black British sound, developed against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems.
A style suited to the London scene, it represents an apolitical counterpoint to the then dominant conscious Rastafarian sound and continued the soulful and commonly love-themed rocksteady style.
Active during the scene's peak, King & City was launched by Neville King and Lee Laing to champion the sound and alongside other producers like Dennis Bovell, created genre-defining hits.
Formed in 1979 One Blood was made up of the 5 Robinson brothers - Errol, Jerry, Lloyd, Trevor and Paul - and recording at the legendary TMC studios, went on to release two albums and countless singles.
Be Thankful pays homage to DeVaughn's original, with smooth vocals gliding atop tight drum and bass, vocal jumping up dub pom acapella to summer perfection. The tapes here passed to cohort Lexx, crafting a wonderful discodub that is all groove, expertly cutting back and forth...diamonds in the back, sunroof top.
Review: The King & City reissue series continues with Paul Robinson's disco boogie jam Come On Sister. Moving from the Lovers sound of his early productions, his first solo recording was aimed straight at the blues, clubs and pirate stations of South London and beyond - a prolific artist on the rise.
Appearing as a 13 year old protegee drummer in The Simeons, recording for the legendary Freedom Sounds label out of Kingston; to forming the influential Roots / Lovers Rock outfit One Blood; then vocalist in the Nick Straker Band; and through to a 30 year career as "dubplate" producer / singer Barry Boom, Robinson is a man of talents and serious legacy.
This highly sought after debut, part of Neville King and Lee Laing's family of labels, followed releases in One Blood and productions for female Lovers groups Blood Sisters and Charisma. A pure disco boogie party cut, Come On Sister sees the Robinson family hit the Brit funk.
In label style, the flip is given the Discomix treatment, here by up and coming digger, dealer and producer, Bruno (Perfect Lives). Letting the horns, dub bass and drums build in anticipation before the keys and guitar join and it all drops to Robinson's vocals - Come On Sister.
Review: To close the 3 EP reissue series of Neville King and Lee Laing's King & City label, the all female group Charisma are presented with their summer infused Lovers cut, Everything Is Fine.
Three Lewisham friends, Angela Richardson on lead vocals, with Geselle and Janie backing, were active from 1982 to 1990, but are really remembered for the early recordings made with Neville King. Their debut, Everything Is Fine rides the Lovers sound at its peak. Written with One Blood's Lloyd Robinson, with the rest of band of Robinson brothers providing the rhythm section, this is pure South London sound system music.
Recorded again at TMC (Tooting Music Centre) Recording Studios - working alongside the likes of Dillinger, Tradition and New Musik - Everything Is Fine rides a beautiful soul reggae rhythm as Trevor (Drums) and Lloyd (Bass) Robinson set the foundations, while One Blood provide the Dub mix.
A true love's lament, a song of hope, serenity and pure vibes. Label head Chuggy slides behind the mixing desk for an extended Discomix that stretches, loops and dubs the vocal and dub back forth, to close a glimpse at this uniquely British phenomenon, taking reggae closer to it's heart and soul.
Review: Emotional Rescue presents the music of Haile Maskel in the first in a reissue series working with Patrick Billard aka DJ Duckcomb, sourcing and licensing from this digger's vaults and out to the wider world.
Heralding from the furtive 60's Trenchtown, Jamaica, young Michael Ashley aka Haile Maskel grew up singing, learning guitar and bass. His first recording session was produced by friend Bob Marley, with Peter Tosh on keys, Robbie Shakespeare on bass and Carlton Barrett on drums.
The list of sessions is long, working with Lee Perry, Light Of Saba, Dennis Brown and Sugar Minott. Touring took him overseas where he settled in Los Angeles in 1983, soon launching his Opulence (Sound) label.
Maskel's band, the 101's featured members of The Twinkle Brothers, including cousins Asher and Debo Brown on drum and bass, and augmented by local players. Mixing conscious messages in love songs, Maskel crafts a boogie discodub on which to exalt an uplifting summer jam.
With the highly prized original the tapes unearthed unreleased dubs - "Take 1" providing a wonderful version. LA native Duckcomb found a trove of tapes of unheard material, still for discovery. For now, his longform Discomix, cutting and editing Maskel's vocal along with the dubs, completes a first archival splendor.
Review: The second in the series of DJ Duckcomb affiliated reissues brings the Jamaica / London connection to light, with a reissue of the Brixton based band Red Cloud under the spotlight.
Double Talk was their debut release, coming on House / Freestyle / Reggae label Dancefloor Records, first explored by Emotional Rescue several years ago. After meeting with label head, Jeffrey Collins, in his then London base, the band went on release 2 albums, a 12" and 7" with him, as well as notably being Floyd Lloyd Seivright's backing band.
The original 1983 12"" - now a highly sought after digger's disco reggae bomb - Double Talk is a perfect summer Lovers jam. A tale of sweat talking, cross loving and loss, with redemption and strength, all backed by an uplifting drum and bass, with guitar, keys and piano highlighting the JA climbs instilled in dem sound.
Dubble Dub brings it all down, stripping away and lifting the interplay between keys and piano, allowing guitar to ride above warm bass grooves.
On the flip Duckcomb returns, with his now trademark riding the vocal'n'dub, gently teasing'n'pulling, looping'n'flipping, before letting the echoplex loose to just let the wonderful groove bump'n'grind.