John Goto’s book ‘Lovers Rock’ chronicles black youth in 1970s South London

Released by Autograph ABP, ‘Lovers Rock’ is a series of photographs taken by John Goto during a series of evening classes at Lewisham Arts Centre in the 1970s.

The striking collection of portraits gives an intimate look at the lives of Black youth in London and which from whose title was by the reggae influenced genre of music made popular at the time which has also been documented in a film by director Menelik Shabazz.

1977 was the year that the two sevens clashed. That summer, as the seventh day of the seventh month approached, London’s hatches were being battened down for more than a mere reprise of the previous year’s rioting.Gregory Isaacs’ heavy, Upsetter-produced anthem ‘Mr. Cop’ sat at number one in the Reggae chart just above Denis Alcapone’s exhortatory toast ‘Brixton Hall’. (…) Denis’ echo-laden, opening lyric, ‘I am standing ten feet tall in a Brixton hall, with my back against the wall, but I ain’t gonna fall yaaaaaah’, captured all the edgy violence of the profound moment of realignment that is registered so beautifully in John Goto’s extraordinary portraits of young South Londoners readied for a night out… After 35 years, Goto’s portraits have acquired special gravity. They are powerful and important for the explicit challenge they present to the rules of racial interpretation.
– Paul Gilroy, There is Love in the Heart of the City

The photographs are currently on display as part of an exhibition taking place at Art Jericho in Oxford where signed copies of the book will also be on sale.