[Film Review] The Story of Lovers Rock


Look up Lover’s Rock on Wikipedia and it tells you the roots lie in Jamaican and American singers covering old love songs and while that might strictly be true it does not quite give you the heart and soul of it. The Story of Lover’s Rock, directed by Menelik Shabazz, however, takes one on a journey of a genre, perhaps even a movement – you will see this in the way Sylvia Tella talks about the music – through the story of its makers and listeners.

Shabazz, with this film mixes straight documentary, beautifully framed and shot, with dramatized scenes of anecdotes about the dances and the music scene. Scenes that had audiences laughing and others blushing (the Dance!)

Now, I could tell you of the film and what it contains as a titillation, review tease if you like but you can watch the trailer for that, I think I would rather tell you of the what I left with after the screening. It was not only the knowledge of how the Lover’s Rock name came about, nor how Dennis Bovell, who really wanted to be a guitar player but on meeting and hearing John Kpiaye play decided to stick to the bass. Or that it was an accidental drum flourish that made that UK sound the one all the musicians coveted. It was a feeling, a feeling of belonging. I saw a history of my friend’s parents, heard their stories about the music the dances.



The Story of Lover’s Rock like all the best stories is not just about Lover’s Rock. It is the story of the UK and its music, the story of kids with Caribbean blood and British lives, their struggles through tumultuous times marred violence and struggles through puberty and love. It’s also a story of the music business – a business that still has its issue with black music (I mean urban? Really what is that? Ok, let me not go down this road) – and the way UK made music didn’t get as much UK love as it should have. It’s a story of a dance culture that still resonates to this day and a DANCE (the Scrub and the Rub) that is the sexiest thing I have ever seen!

And finally, the film in and of itself is a story of dedication to and of a generation and the contributions they made to where we are now in Britain, be it musically or socially. It is a story of a man with a vision to document a history often left to people outside its being. The Story of Lover’s Rock is beyond just a document of Lover’s Rock, to me it felt like a beginning of a movement to document our story and it was a sentiment that Shabazz spoke on.

The DVD is currently taking pre-orders and is due to be released on February 13th



Review by Elelta Demissie of Nothing to Display | @broke_grove