The Natti Love Joys were formed by the husband and wife duo of Tony ‘Jati’ Allen from Kingston, Jamaica and Sonia ‘Marla’ Abel from Brixton, London, England. Allen initially played bass and associated himself with neighbouring heroes, Bob Marley, Tyrone Downie and Supercat. Abel and her cousin were members of the teenage lovers rock group, the Lovejoys. The group found success in the UK with the Lloyd Barnes -produced ‘Sweet Feelings’. It was at Barnes’ Bronx-based studio that both Allen and Abel first met. The duo formed A&A Reggae, and in 1998 reconvened as the Natti Love Joys. They began working with a number of reggae superstars including Ken Boothe, the Congos and Nadine Sutherland. In Jamaica, the couple’s professional approach resulted in them being customarily involved in session work at Marley’s Tuff Gong Recording studio. The Marley connection continued when they also worked alongside Marcia Griffiths, who had enjoyed international acclaim as a member of the I-Threes. The band also toured extensively supporting Jimmy Cliff, Inner Circle and Steel Pulse while non-reggae bands including the Ramones, Joan Jett, Psychedelic Furs and the Clash enrolled their services. In 1998, the duo was poised for an international breakthrough with the release of their acclaimed album debut. The project was produced by Marty Stoyer alongside Allen and demonstrated a combination of sweet melodies with the raw edge of modern day ragga. They performed to critical acclaim at Camp Reggae Festival in Tennessee, which was regarded as a highlight of the Labour Day celebrations. Owing to the widespread demand both Lovejoys albums, Lovers Rock Showcase and Reggae Vibes, were re-released in 1999 by the Wackies label.
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