Various Artists

Island Presents: Lovers Rock

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Jamaica was at a dangerous and combustible spot as the 1970s rolled in, beset by class disparity, crushing poverty, increasingly barbed friction between the country's two political parties, and violence that amounted to open warfare in the streets, all of which fermented and came together creatively inside the island's maverick music industry, resulting in what was undoubtedly Jamaica's greatest pop music era, the era of true roots reggae, much of which was highly political and charged with desperate and stubborn defiance. In the midst of all this, a subgenre known as lovers rock emerged, love songs chanted and crooned out of the same destitute streets and neighborhoods that created the more militant songs. Poised to export all this to the rest of the world was Chris Blackwell's fledgling Island Records imprint, which grew in time into a major player in the rock market, but back then, it was all roots, including this set of Island love song classics tracked between 1976 and 1988, which includes the Heptones' "Crying Over You," Alton Ellis' "And I Love Her," and Jimmy Riley's version of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," among others.

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