Words by Martei Korley
“Should I”—isn’t that a Dennis Brown song? It is. Maxi Priest borrowed a couple of lines from it too, but that’s about it. Maxi’s “Should I,” from his ’85 breakout album You’re Safe, is a stellar example of British-bred lovers rock at it’s most vibrant . The synergy of his voice and the driving swing of his band Caution is almost perfect—pretty good for a first outing! The song was produced by Paul Robinson (a recording artist in his own right, who had some success on the British Lovers Rock scene under the moniker “Barry Boom”) and played by a band consisting of mostly Robinson family members. It’s a particular sound that has never really been replicated—smooth Lovers Rock with hard, Yard-style reverb.
The decidedly English video depicts a London dockland romance and heartbreak, and lots of Kangols and sweaters. A well crafted, if typical ’80s set, plenty of vignetted and back-lit frames here… It gets really interesting when Maxi sings his own harmonies on the chorus. What’s the quadruplet shot about? Maxi had recently abandoned working as a carpenter and although stylish an’ ting inna him granny tess-glass, he seems a bit out-swaggered by the browning with the bedhead ‘do. While he’s still light years away from the international success of “Close to You,” which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard chart only half a decade later, there’s no denying his talent—the execution is masterful. Pretty sure even Dennis Brown would have approved.