A Guide to the Discography of British Reggae Architect Dennis Bovell

A Guide to the Discography of British Reggae Architect Dennis Bovell

It’s impossible to tell the story of British reggae without Dennis Bovell. As a producer, bassist, songwriter, DJ, and recording engineer, he’s been in the studio or on stage from the music’s breakthrough in the early ’70s through its subsequent twists and turns—the boom years and the quiet times. So when director Steve McQueen needed a song to serve as the focal point of his 2020 film Lovers Rock—part of an anthology depicting moments from the Black British experience in the ’60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s—the choice might have been obvious. “Silly Games,” a woozy ballad that reached #2 on the UK singles chart in 1979, epitomizes the style of romantic reggae that gave the film its name. Sung by Janet Kay, the song’s shatteringly high vocal register, yearning lyrics, and inventive, skittering hi-hat pattern are all Bovell’s handiwork.

 

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