Thursday, September 17, 2015

Throw Back - 70s Teens Reggae Chart-Topper Althea and Donna

Althea and Donna were a Jamaican singing duo best known for their 1977 hit single "Uptown Top Ranking," which hit number one on the UK chart in 1978.

The Jamaican teenagers Althea Forrest and Donna Reid then 17 and 18 years old respectively, caused a chart surprise when their song became a UK hit, ousting greats such as Paul McCartney and Bob Marley and held the Number 1 spot for two weeks.  Note their subtle, appealing image as well as playful and fun lyrics that are similar in comparison to OMI's chart-topper 'Cheerleader' single. These artistes scored number one on a major chart in an era that springboarded from the late 60s/early 70s when the British music press and BBC was alleged to have actively campaigned to keep reggae off the airwaves. 

Subsequent to their major chart break, Althea and Donna gained recognition as the first female Deejays in the history of reggae music and this fact is recorded in the Guinness Book of Hit Songs. The duo got signed to Virgin Records and became the label's 'Top Act,' recording an album of the same name "Uptown Top Ranking" in 1978. Other successes by the jovial pair included a role in the Jamaican and/or Jamaican music inspired films "Rockers" and "Heartland Reggae."  

"Uptown Top Ranking" is about two "Uptown" girls coming out against certain social standing that plagued the society at that time. Their message was basically  'don't judge us' because we are dressed in 'heel and things' this is who we are we 'nah pop no style; a strictly roots.' This was an important message in the 70s which lead to their performing the track at an historical peace concert in Kingston in 1980. "Uptown Top Ranking" became that song in the history of Jamaica that marked a musical connection between uptown and downtown. Althea and Donna went on to record other singles including 'Going To Negril' and 'No More Fighting' which were also popular in Jamaica.

Today, Althea and Donna are planning to relinquish their music career with a return to the industry. Their re-immergence is largely as a result of the motivation of their children who all have musical interests. Although they have been on a musical low for more than 20 years, plans are underway for a relaunch of Althea and Donna in Jamaica.

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