Interview: Chris Lane, Reggae Writer – Part 1

April 7, 2013

Last spring when United Reggae spoke to Chris Lane (along with his Fashion Records and Dub Vendor co-founder John McGillivray) it was in his capacity as a producer, musician and engineer. But as true heads will know Chris was also one of the first people to start writing seriously about Jamaican music in the 1970s mainstream UK music press. Most specialist reggae writers today will relate to the fact that Chris only ever wrote part time in conjunction with a variety of day jobs. But despite his articles in “Blues & Soul”, “Black Music”, “Melody Maker”, “New Musical Express”, “Let It Rock” and “Music Week” being hard to find without a visit to the British Library archives, many of them are still passed around internet forums in a virtual atmosphere of hushed awe. Last summer Angus Taylor visited one of the founding fathers of his profession and spent an enjoyable two hours listening to records and having this rambling open-ended chat. Opinionated yet never arrogant, Chris had plenty to say.

What was the first reggae tune you heard?

I always really liked pop. I loved the Monkees, I don’t care who knows that. Loved the Beatles, the Kinks, Small Faces, I liked Motown stuff. So I’d obviously heard records like My Boy Lollipop, the Johnny Nash records that were hits, Cupid, You’ve Got Soul, Hold Me Tight. I really liked Without You by Donny Elbert. I don’t think it was a huge hit but I remember it being played. My best mate’s older brother was buying records. He had those albums like Coxsone Special and Bluebeat Special and the one on Island, Put It On: It’s Rock-Steady. And a little after that he had the first Tighten Up album.

I know I’ve told this story before, but I was round my mate’s house one day and his elder brother came in with a couple of records in a bag. He said “I’ve been in this reggae shop in Kilburn”. It was like “Fucking hell!” because in those days for a white kid to go into a black reggae shop, it was a bit of an undertaking. I just remember he played Mama Look Deh and me and my mate were like “What are they on about? Can’t understand a word” but there was just something about the record that just really hooked me.

Read more…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *