Harris is credited with introducing the term lovers rock to reggae.
His initial involvement was marketing recordings from Jamaica under the collective banner of Eve Records, securing a contract to release work from such luminaries as Winston Edwards, Lee Perry and Yabby You.
Notable Upsetters releases included Jimmy Riley’s cover version of Pluto Shervington’s ‘Ram Goat Liver’, which included a version on the b-side performed by the young Perrys, Omar And Marsha, who also appeared on a different cut of the Mighty Diamonds’ ‘Talk About It’.
Other releases included ‘Cutting Razor’ by the Versatiles and ‘Hurt So Good’ by Susan Cadogan, which entered the UK pop chart, peaking at number 4 in 1975 when Harris licensed the release to Magnet.
The song also influenced a pop remake by Jimmy Somerville in 1995, revitalizing interest in the original version. Magnet were also licensed to release the classic Junior Byles tune, ‘Curly Locks’, but disappointingly failed to secure an entry in the UK pop chart. With Yabby You, the label released Ram A Dam, considered by many to be a classic, along with Big Youth’s ‘Lightning Flash (Weak Heart Drop)’.
Inspired by his success, Harris began recording in the UK, producing hits with Two In Love (‘You Are Mine’) and with white singer T.T. Ross (a version of ‘Imagine’ and a remake of ‘Last Date’). ‘Last Date’ was licensed to Polydor Records as both parties were hoping to emulate the success of Cadogon’s hit.
His initial releases surfaced on the Dip, Lucky and Eve labels, but it was the introduction of the Lovers Rock label that coined the phrase that lives on to this day.
Harris recorded Brown Sugar for their hits ‘I’m In Love With A Dreadlocks’, ‘Hello Stranger’ and ‘Black Pride’. Other Lovers Rock productions were Vivian Clark’s ‘Come And Take Me’ and Carolyn And Roland’s ‘You’re Having My Baby’, both of which had crossover potential but were sadly overlooked by the media.
By 1976 Harris was offering a dub plate service, where anybody could make a trip to Upper Brockley Road and purchase a unique disc similar to those heard in the sound systems, as well as take advantage of his generous rates to hire Eve’s eight-track recording studio facilities.
He enjoyed enormous success with his dub albums Leggo Ah Fe We Dis and Ah Who Seh Go Deh, credited to the 4th Street Orchestra whose albums were originally thought to have been recorded in Jamaica.
The musicians who had successfully recreated the Jamaican sound were reported to be members of Matumbi, who had recorded the tunes in Harris’ south London studio.
He also introduced Sunday afternoon auditions in the same way that Coxsone Dodd had done in Jamaica in the early 60s.
In 1977, Laurel Aitken ventured to Harris’ studio where he cut a version of the Demis Roussos tune ‘Forever And Ever’, which worked surprisingly well when given a reggae beat. Sadly, by the early 80s Eve Records had vanished, but not before making an important contribution to the history of reggae.