Ambelique seeks love in the city

First recorded by soul singer Bobby Blue Bland in 1974, Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City captured the decay taking place at that time in major American cities. With Jamaica experiencing similar rot, Ambelique thought a reggae version would be appropriate.

His rendition, released two weeks ago, is produced by Willie Lindo.

Ambelique, who has lived in the United States for over 40 years, grew up in the Waltham Park area of Kingston. He is disturbed by the lack of community in Jamaica, particularly Kingston.

"The lack of opportunity for young people, the apathy among people for our culture and our music, and most of all, the love, respect, and compassion for our elders that once was so prevalent during my youth. The children talk to their parents today with contempt," said Ambelique.

He pitched the idea to Lindo of putting a reggae spin on a song that has been covered by rock band Whitesnake and Jay Z. The producer agreed, then assembled bassist Robbie Shakespeare, drummer Paul Douglas, and keyboardist Robbie Lyn, who are responsible for its bluesy-reggae feel.

Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City was a comeback hit 48 years ago for Bobby Blue Bland, best known in Jamaica for the ballad Members Only. His sound is reminiscent of Sam Cooke and Solomon Burke, singers Ambelique considers to be among his biggest influences.

For much of his early career, the singer performed in blues bands in Boston.

During the 1990s, Ambelique was part of Sly and Robbie's Taxi Gang. He recorded several songs for the "Riddim Twins", including La Trengae, versions of Lionel Richie's Penny Lover, and Englebert Humperdinck's Quando Quando.

Howard Campbell

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