British singer Lloyd Brown feels UK reggae artists fail to get same recognition as Jamaican counterparts
By Davina Hamilton—
VETERAN: Lloyd Brown
WITH A career that has spanned over three decades, Lloyd Brown is one of the UK’s most respected reggae artists. And in a market that he himself believes is slow in recognising the wealth of available reggae talents, Brown’s resilience is commendable to say the least.
Back with the new album Rootical, the British singer makes no bones about the challenges he feels British reggae artists face in the ever-changing music industry.
Asked for his thoughts on the current state of reggae music, the celebrated artist let out a wry chuckle as he responds: “You don’t have enough pages for me to talk about that! There are so many elements involved in the entertainment industry at large, much less the reggae industry.
“Money and politics are just two elements that cause hardship for those who remain in their respective industries and who are trying to keep striving in what they do. And now, from a commercial standpoint, the worth of music isn’t as much as it used to be back in the day when a platinum selling album really was a million-selling album.
“Technology and the way music is consumed has changed, which has affected the industry as a whole. But for reggae in particular, it’s a shame it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves commercially because there are so many talented artists out there. And as for British reggae, I think it has often been treated like a poor relation when compared to Jamaican reggae and that too is a shame.”
Brown believes that it’s not only the commercial market that is slow in recognising British reggae, but also the British Caribbean community, many of whom the singer feels fail to show UK reggae the love it deserves.
“Reggae has almost been outsourced to the point that it has been embraced by artists of all races, and I have no qualms with that because the music is all about ‘one love’ which Bob Marley sang about. But within our own Caribbean community here in the UK, I don’t think British reggae is seen as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the reggae output from Jamaica.
“It’s ironic that Bob Marley’s Exodus, which is considered by many to be one of the greatest albums of the millennium, was recorded here in the UK, during his [Marley’s] exile.
“The UK has been the launch pad for so many megastars, yet it sometimes feels as though the UK doesn’t recognise the talent that is right here when it comes to reggae music.”
Brown adds: “Having spent a lot of time in America, I’ve often been asked why the British reggae artists don’t get the props they deserve in the UK. Being an international artist, I’ve been able to see where the love is for British reggae, and unfortunately, it’s not always here in the UK.”
ROOTICAL: Brown’s new album
Nonetheless, the singer remains dedicated to his art, as is demonstrated with the release of his new album Rootical. Describing his latest offering as “a roots based album with a few love songs injected in there too,” the singer deviates from his well-known trend of recording cover versions of songs in the new album, and instead teams up with US imprint Zion High Productions to create an album of original material.
“I’ve been described as an artist that makes daring cover versions,” says the singer, whose covers include Craig David’s Fill Me In, Robbie Williams’ Angels, and Sharing The Night Together by the late US country singer Arthur Alexander.
“So to be approached by another production team to co-produce and album that’s entirely original was an honour and a pleasure. I look at artists like Burning Spear with great admiration because his work has been entirely original and he has worked so consistently for so many years.”
Explaining why he developed a penchant for creating his own versions of other people’s songs, Brown says: “It’s easy for artists to cover songs to bring familiarity to people. But I tend to cover songs to let people know of my influences. I don’t choose songs that everyone knows or that everyone has done before. I go for songs that are more daring; pop songs, rock songs, ballads – a variety.”
One track that the singer was destined to cover was the song that brought tears to his eyes when he was just a little boy.
“I often cite Otis Redding as the first artist to make me cry living eye water when I was about eight or nine years old, and at the time, I didn’t even know why I was crying,” Brown recalls. “As I got older and developed a deeper over-standing of [Redding’s song] These Arms Of Mine, it just made complete sense.
“My love of music was predominantly down to the influence of my father, because of his love for music and through listening to the artists that moved him. He introduced me to so much music, from so many different genres. That was really the pre-cursor that set the foundations for me to have a career in music.”
Considering his hopes for the future, Brown says: “I’m working on my eighth studio album, which is due to be released in March next year. I just hope for continued health and strength and hope that my music is liked and embraced the world over. That’s all I can hope for.”
Rootical is out now, available on iTunes