Chris Lane is a multi-talented musician, producer and writer from London, who has played a crucial role in forwarding reggae music in the UK.

Chris bought his first reggae records when he was 13, spending his paper round money on singles such as The Vampire and Clint Eastwood (Upsetters), Reggae Pressure (Hippy Boys) and of course the must have album of the day, Tighten Up Volume 2.

Four years later he began contributing a reggae column for Blues & Soul magazine. Shortly after making his first trip to Jamaica where he spent his 18th birthday at the Black Ark Studio, co-writing a song with Lee Perry and Bob Marley and carrying out interviews with some of the legends of reggae, such as Dennis Brown, Big Youth, Bunny Lee and Coxsone Dodd.

In 1976 he co-founded Dub Vendor with John MacGillivray and in 1980 they both launched their own label, Fashion Records, allowing Chris to develop his skills as a producer, musician and engineer. Throughout the 80s and 90s he produced, played and engineered for renowned artists like Johnny Clarke, Alton Ellis, Cutty Ranks, Top Cat, General Levy and many more.

Based in London, Chris is a regular selector in the revival scene and still works as an engineer, producer, musician and sleeve note writer.

Respect to Chris for his Top Eleven!

Top ska instrumental: Roland Alphonso – Cleopatra

A classic shuffling instrumental, Roland and The Studio 1 Orchestra let rip on this great original tune (as far as I know!) with some superb playing from the flute led horn section and legendary drummer Lloyd Knibb.

Top ska vocal: The Zodiacs – Renegade

This is my favourite ska song, it has a relentless, driving rhythm. I remember finding this over forty years ago  in a junk shop, a blank label with loads of biro scribble all over it. It still excites me when I hear it today and that same copy is always in the box when I play out.

Top tune by a female singer: Phyllis Dillon – Love Was All I Had

Female singers are sadly under-represented in Jamaican music, there must have been dozens of them that were never recorded. This is a near perfect performance from Phyllis, and of course Tommy McCook and the Supersonics provide a suitably sophisticated backing track.

Top tune by a male singer: Bob Andy – Unchained

Even though the music was recorded for a completely different song by an unknown singer, ‘Unchained’ fits the rhythm like a glove. Bob’s heartfelt rendition of his own typically conscious lyrics guarantees the classic status of this tune.

Top tune by a harmony group: The Gaylads – Let’s Fall In Love

This is a very rare tune and it’s a gorgeous piece of rocksteady featuring one of the genre’s most proficient harmony groups. Great song, great singing and of course a stellar rhythm from Lyn Tait and the Jets.

Top Rocksteady Instrumental: Tommy McCook – Moody Ska

I always imagine that these Treasure Isle tunes were recorded on a Sunday afternoon after a delicious Sunday dinner, laid back, slightly loose, and finely crafted, this is just one of a dozen or so tunes I could have chosen.

Top Organ Instrumental: Winston Wright & Dynamites – Black Beret

Organist Winston and Gladdy Adams on piano work their magic for producer Clancy Eccles. Easy listening? Lounge reggae? I don’t care, reggae was never all about loud drum rolls and sub sonic bass. It’s always nice to hear something mellow and melodic.

Top Deejay tune: U Roy – Foundation Skank

A cracking deejay cut to an updated ‘Sweet Talking’ rhythm, this tune has minimalist dub mixing with U Roy doing his thing over the top. Forget the bells and whistles, this is stripped down reggae at its best and at the time a hugely sought after record.

Top reggae instrumental: Fiddlers – Violin Rock

This is a violin version of the ‘Love Is Not A Gamble’ rhythm, what more do you want? The enigmatic and sadly late ‘White Rum’ Raymond plays beautifully on a basic, no frills, early 70’s relick of the Techniques’ classic. If you were there at the time this was state of the art sound system material!

Top Dub tune: Johnnie Clarke & King Tubby’s – A Rougher Version

This is the B-side dub mix to ‘Don’t Trouble Trouble’, recorded at a time when both Clarke and Tubbs were at the peak of their powers. Snatches of pugnacious vocals, militant rhythm and horns, machine guns, explosions, sirens and a terrible kick drum pedal squeak! All fiercely mixed in a frenzy of sonic mania. “Trouble is very dangerous!”

Top Roots tune: Fashioneers – Guiding Light

Aspirational lyrics, slightly out of tune vocals, great bass line, superb rhythm section….all adds up to one of my favourite roots tunes, with a great Channel 1 dub mix on the B-side.