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SOUL SUGAR

Etta James & Sugar Pie Desanto / John Gary Williams

In The Basement (Soul Flip Edits)

Soul Flip come through with a couple of mega...err...soul flips here, plucking some sound source material and working their magic. On the A-side we get a phat big beat refix of Etta's evergreen "In The Basement", which pushes the track a mile in opposite direction of Theo's Detroit workout, opting to add a hefty back beat and up the ante in Brighton beach style. Over on the flip, John Gary Williams' soul version of George's gorgeous (and only slightly plagiaristic "My Sweet Lord") gets the dance floor overhaul with subtle boosts and extensions from the team.

Brown Sugar

I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks: Brown Sugar And The Birth Of Lovers Rock 1977-80

Soul Jazz Records release this first ever collection of the pioneering British reggae Lovers Rock group Brown Sugar including rare singles, dubs and extended mixes. The album comes with extensive sleevenotes and interviews with Dennis Bovell, Pauline Catlin, John Kpiaye and Winston Edwards (Studio 16).

Brown Sugar were formed by three young teenage girls - Pauline Catlin, Caron Wheeler and Carol Simms in South London in 1976. In the short period of time 1976-1980, the group - working with Dennis Bovell on the mixing desk and John Kpiaye (‘Brownie T) in the studio - recorded barely a handful of singles on the new Lovers Rock label, a number of which went to the top of the UK reggae charts. But success stopped there and with no album release and no industry support the group broke up in the early 1980s.

Following their split Caron Wheeler became the lead vocalist for the hugely successful group Soul II Soul, Carol Simms launched a solo career as Kofi (re-making a number of Brown Sugar songs with producer Mad Professor) and Pauline Catlin returned to education.

Despite their relatively low-key mainstream public exposure Brown Sugar (and the label on which their first records appeared) announced to the world a new genre of reggae music, Lovers Rock, which spoke for the first time with the sensibility of a new segment of British society; that of first generation-born Black British female youth.

And while Lovers Rock became synonymous with sweet love songs, Brown Sugar’s music in fact expressed far more; a righteous pride and consciousness in being Black and British, a political stance more often associated with UK roots groups like Black Slate, Aswad, Misty In Roots and other British reggae acts in the late 1970s. Brown Sugar were in fact their own genre of ‘conscious lovers rock’ - an expression of ideological black cultural pride.

Brown Sugar’s handful of three-minute love songs (often plus extended dubs) somehow manage to encapsulate all the complexities of identity, sexual politics and youthful righteousness of Afro-Caribbean youth living in Britain in the 1970s. Songs such as ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’, ‘Our Reggae Music’, ‘Black Pride’ and ‘Dreaming Of Zion’ spoke with a straightforward righteousness and consciousness that few roots groups could hope to match. The fact that they were all teenagers is even more striking.

Dennis Bovell comments, “For Lovers Rock we needed a pulpit, a way of saying ‘this is the style’. Sound systems were already saying ‘this is lovers,’ brandishing it in the dance. Our intention was to create a style of music that my generation could identify with - one that had a beat, and you could dance to with your partner in a sound system setting.”

Dennis Bovell’s mixes for the group gave a further dimension to Brown Sugar records - a sound system mentality, adding sound effects and dub elements. ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’ was the debut release for both Brown Sugar and the Lovers Rock label, a fitting calling card for both. The record was a hit on many sound systems across the UK, reaching the top of the reggae charts.

Although the career of Brown Sugar was short-lived, their legacy and influence remains significant and now, 40 years on from these first records, all of the members are still involved in music. Pauline Catlin has recently re-launched her career under a new moniker, Shezekiel; Carol Simms, aka Kofi, remains a successful solo artist, one of the queens of Lovers Rock; Caron Wheeler, after leaving Soul II Soul at the end of the 1980s, embarked on a solo career, before re-joining the soul super-group which she continues to front to this day.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Lovers rock was a distinctly UK-JA hybrid, and Brown Sugar were one of the catalysts of this homegrown, offshoot movement and were huge here in Manchester, as well as London & Birmingham.

Long out of print re-release of this classic Sugar Minott album on Soul Jazz Records, bringing together the best of his classic material recorded at Studio One in the 1970s. Lincoln Sugar Minott was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1956. He grew up in a poor area of West Kingston and from an early age developed a love of reggae music and the music of Studio One in particular. As a teenager, he became selector for Sound of Silence Keystone and Gathering of Youth local soundsystems. By the late 1970s Minott had risen to become one of the biggest stars in Jamaican music.

Sugar Minott began his career at Studio One. After auditioning in front of Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd in the early 1970s, he became the first artist to record new songs over classic rhythms, singing over original Studio One tapes - the significance of which led directly to the birth of dancehall, as Channel One, Joe Gibbs and hundreds of other Jamaican producers quickly began releasing their own material based on these same classic Studio One rhythms replayed by Sly and Robbie, The Aggrovators, Soul Syndicate, Roots Radics and many others.

'I knew Studio One spiritually before I knew Studio One physically. You know I grew up beside a dancehall and Sir Coxsone’s sound used to play there from when I was a boy. So from that influence you know I used to love Studio One sound so much, I became a sound selector. So that was my first involvement with getting to know Studio One music like The Heptones, Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, the whole works and that was my life from a youth.'

After Sugar Minott’s debut many other artists followed suit at the label such as Freddie McGregor, Johnny Osbourne, Lone Ranger and Michigan & Smiley leading to one of the most creative periods for the label. This is the first retrospective of Sugar Minott at the label and most of these recordings have never been widely available outside Jamaica. Sugar Minott went on to a huge career in reggae and is today one of the biggest stars in Jamaican music. He set up his own Black Roots / Youth Promotions label releasing music by Barry Brown, Michael Palmer, Tenor Saw, Barrington Levy, Horace Andy, Garnett Silk, Junior Delgado, Yami Bolo, Junior Reid and many more.

Sugar Minott went on to work for numerous Jamaican producers. His "Good Thing Going", produced by Donovan Germain, became a Number One hit in the UK and led to the rise of Lovers Rock. This album includes classic cuts as well as super-rare singles, all of which have been digitally re-mastered for this release.



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