Chris lane

Journalist / Producer / Musician — London

Name, where are you from?
Chris Lane, London

What do you do?
I’m a reggae journalist, record producer, musician - and I co-own a record label, Fashion Records.

Describe your style in three words:
Music, music, music.

Which music defines the teenage you?
Reggae, Soul and Motown.

How were you introduced to reggae music?
I first heard Desmond Dekker and Johnny Nash on the radio when I was about 12, and around that time reggae became fashionable with white teenagers in London. I had a mate whose older brother bought loads of rocksteady and reggae records so I’d hear them round his house, and of course, reggae and soul was the soundtrack at the local youth clubs. 

When did you start writing about it?
In 1973 I wrote to Blues & Soul magazine and told them they needed a reggae column - and they believed me!

And was it a natural transition into making music?
Yes, my first job when I left school was working in a record shop, and then I started Dub Vendor with John MacGillivray, who still runs it. When I was standing behind the counter, I’d be thinking “I should be making records, not just selling them!”

I’d already been to Jamaica and spent time in studios, so I was beginning to see how it all worked, and I used to pick records to pieces in my head, so I was sort of analysing what went into the tunes even then.

Who do you consider to be your heroes of the genre?
I’ve got so many heroes, and they’ve all played an important part in the history of ska and reggae... Coxsone Dodd, Lee Perry, Prince Buster, King Tubby, U Roy, Jackie Mittoo, Bob Marley, Bob Andy, Alton Ellis, Roland Alphonso, Tommy McCook, Lyn Tait, Augustus Pablo.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
Probably ‘The Vampire’ by The Upsetters. We didn’t have a record player in the house till my Mum and Dad bought a little Dansette around Christmas 1969, and this was one of the first records I bought with the Christmas box money from my paper round. I loved the intro, the weird drum roll (sounds like the tape’s been stretched) and of course the tune itself, a fantastic (and atmospheric) organ instrumental.

A track from a favourite album?
I’ve never seen reggae as an album music, it’s mostly about singles for me, but if pushed I’d have to go for 'Your Ace From Space' by U Roy from the Version Galore LP, or perhaps 'Created By The Father' from Dennis Brown’s No Man Is An Island set on Studio 1.

A song you wish you’d written?
Probably something by Bob Andy, probably ‘Life’ or ‘Let Them Say’ - there’s so many! 

What is the last piece of music you bought?
Nothing too expensive or obscure... a couple of tunes I let go years ago and have now reclaimed (Errol Dunkley's cut of Movie Star and Psalms 9, the Tommy McCook instrumental to Blood & Fire )... and the Tubby Hayes documentary on DVD, if that counts?

Most meaningful lyrics to inspire change?
'Get Up and Fight For Your Right' 
'Declaration of Rights' - Abysinnians

Best song to bring people together?
'Love The Way It Should Be' by the late Prince Lincoln and the Royal Rasses

What has been your all-time favourite gig?
The U Roy show at Croydon Top Rank in 1972. I’ve still got the poster!

Best love song of all time?
'Ooo Baby Baby' - Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore. 

Is there a song you like that people wouldn’t expect?
'Alone Again Naturally' - Gilbert O'Sullivan

What new music/bands are you listening to?
To be honest, I don’t often listen to new music, I’ve got to the age where I’m more comfortable exploring more of the old stuff!

'Mama Look Deh' - Reggae Boys
The tune that really got me into reggae. I heard it round my mate’s house and fell down the hole!

'Flashing My Whip' - U Roy
I didn’t really get U Roy at first, the Version Galore album didn’t make any sense to me at all, but then I heard this, and somehow it unlocked it all for me.

'I’m Still In Love With You' - Alton Ellis
A beautiful, simple song from my all-time favourite singer, great rhythm too!

'You Don’t Know' - Bob Andy
Bob Andy is arguably Jamaica’s best songwriter, and this is a fine example of his astute, intelligent lyrics. A great song with a lovely melodic backing track from Gladdy’s All Stars at Dynamic.

'Love Me Forever' - Carlton & His Shoes
Rocksteady just as it starts changing into reggae, great song and great harmonies.

'East Of The River Nile' - Augustus Pablo
Groundbreaking instrumental from a 16-year-old kid with a melodica.

'Real Cool' - Tommy McCook & The Supersonics
I love the Treasure Isle studio sound; the rhythms always have that relaxed Sunday afternoon vibe. This is a perfect example, a typically sweet instrumental with a lovely understated solo from McCook.

'It’s A New Day' - James Brown
Bought this in the Music City in Kilburn, the tune that turned me on to JB.

'Yardbird Suite' - Charlie Parker
I can remember not liking jazz in my teens, but somehow knowing I should like it. This was one of the first bebop tunes that hooked me, it’s melodic and accessible while still being a work of genius. 

'Nuages' - Django Reinhardt
I love jazz guitar, but I didn’t properly appreciate just how great Django was till I started trying to play gypsy jazz a few years ago. The more you listen to him, the more you realise how ahead of his time he was.

'Look A Py Py' - The Meters
Another youth club classic, and so damn funky!

'I’m The One Who Loves You' - The Impressions
Curtis Mayfield is the Godfather of Jamaican music, so many of his songs were made into rocksteady and reggae classics, and although I love the cover versions it’s always good to hear the originals.

'Stardust' - Nat King Cole
Great song, sublime arrangement from Gordon Jenkins and a peerless performance from a superb singer.

'Chega de Saudade' - João Gilberto
Love his singing and his comping, and Jobim’s tunes are always gorgeous.

'Ain’t No Mountain High Enough' - Marvin & Tammi
Great piece of Motown... with two drummers!

Name, where are you from?
Chris Lane, London

What do you do?
I’m a reggae journalist, record producer, musician - and I co-own a record label, Fashion Records.

Describe your style in three words:
Music, music, music.

Which music defines the teenage you?
Reggae, Soul and Motown.

How were you introduced to reggae music?
I first heard Desmond Dekker and Johnny Nash on the radio when I was about 12, and around that time reggae became fashionable with white teenagers in London. I had a mate whose older brother bought loads of rocksteady and reggae records so I’d hear them round his house, and of course, reggae and soul was the soundtrack at the local youth clubs. 

When did you start writing about it?
In 1973 I wrote to Blues & Soul magazine and told them they needed a reggae column - and they believed me!

And was it a natural transition into making music?
Yes, my first job when I left school was working in a record shop, and then I started Dub Vendor with John MacGillivray, who still runs it. When I was standing behind the counter, I’d be thinking “I should be making records, not just selling them!”

I’d already been to Jamaica and spent time in studios, so I was beginning to see how it all worked, and I used to pick records to pieces in my head, so I was sort of analysing what went into the tunes even then.

Who do you consider to be your heroes of the genre?
I’ve got so many heroes, and they’ve all played an important part in the history of ska and reggae... Coxsone Dodd, Lee Perry, Prince Buster, King Tubby, U Roy, Jackie Mittoo, Bob Marley, Bob Andy, Alton Ellis, Roland Alphonso, Tommy McCook, Lyn Tait, Augustus Pablo.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
Probably ‘The Vampire’ by The Upsetters. We didn’t have a record player in the house till my Mum and Dad bought a little Dansette around Christmas 1969, and this was one of the first records I bought with the Christmas box money from my paper round. I loved the intro, the weird drum roll (sounds like the tape’s been stretched) and of course the tune itself, a fantastic (and atmospheric) organ instrumental.

A track from a favourite album?
I’ve never seen reggae as an album music, it’s mostly about singles for me, but if pushed I’d have to go for 'Your Ace From Space' by U Roy from the Version Galore LP, or perhaps 'Created By The Father' from Dennis Brown’s No Man Is An Island set on Studio 1.

A song you wish you’d written?
Probably something by Bob Andy, probably ‘Life’ or ‘Let Them Say’ - there’s so many! 

What is the last piece of music you bought?
Nothing too expensive or obscure... a couple of tunes I let go years ago and have now reclaimed (Errol Dunkley's cut of Movie Star and Psalms 9, the Tommy McCook instrumental to Blood & Fire )... and the Tubby Hayes documentary on DVD, if that counts?

Most meaningful lyrics to inspire change?
'Get Up and Fight For Your Right' 
'Declaration of Rights' - Abysinnians

Best song to bring people together?
'Love The Way It Should Be' by the late Prince Lincoln and the Royal Rasses

What has been your all-time favourite gig?
The U Roy show at Croydon Top Rank in 1972. I’ve still got the poster!

Best love song of all time?
'Ooo Baby Baby' - Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore. 

Is there a song you like that people wouldn’t expect?
'Alone Again Naturally' - Gilbert O'Sullivan

What new music/bands are you listening to?
To be honest, I don’t often listen to new music, I’ve got to the age where I’m more comfortable exploring more of the old stuff!

'Mama Look Deh' - Reggae Boys
The tune that really got me into reggae. I heard it round my mate’s house and fell down the hole!

'Flashing My Whip' - U Roy
I didn’t really get U Roy at first, the Version Galore album didn’t make any sense to me at all, but then I heard this, and somehow it unlocked it all for me.

'I’m Still In Love With You' - Alton Ellis
A beautiful, simple song from my all-time favourite singer, great rhythm too!

'You Don’t Know' - Bob Andy
Bob Andy is arguably Jamaica’s best songwriter, and this is a fine example of his astute, intelligent lyrics. A great song with a lovely melodic backing track from Gladdy’s All Stars at Dynamic.

'Love Me Forever' - Carlton & His Shoes
Rocksteady just as it starts changing into reggae, great song and great harmonies.

'East Of The River Nile' - Augustus Pablo
Groundbreaking instrumental from a 16-year-old kid with a melodica.

'Real Cool' - Tommy McCook & The Supersonics
I love the Treasure Isle studio sound; the rhythms always have that relaxed Sunday afternoon vibe. This is a perfect example, a typically sweet instrumental with a lovely understated solo from McCook.

'It’s A New Day' - James Brown
Bought this in the Music City in Kilburn, the tune that turned me on to JB.

'Yardbird Suite' - Charlie Parker
I can remember not liking jazz in my teens, but somehow knowing I should like it. This was one of the first bebop tunes that hooked me, it’s melodic and accessible while still being a work of genius. 

'Nuages' - Django Reinhardt
I love jazz guitar, but I didn’t properly appreciate just how great Django was till I started trying to play gypsy jazz a few years ago. The more you listen to him, the more you realise how ahead of his time he was.

'Look A Py Py' - The Meters
Another youth club classic, and so damn funky!

'I’m The One Who Loves You' - The Impressions
Curtis Mayfield is the Godfather of Jamaican music, so many of his songs were made into rocksteady and reggae classics, and although I love the cover versions it’s always good to hear the originals.

'Stardust' - Nat King Cole
Great song, sublime arrangement from Gordon Jenkins and a peerless performance from a superb singer.

'Chega de Saudade' - João Gilberto
Love his singing and his comping, and Jobim’s tunes are always gorgeous.

'Ain’t No Mountain High Enough' - Marvin & Tammi
Great piece of Motown... with two drummers!

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