One Hit Wonderland: Althea and Donna
In a world where one-hit wonders once ruled the world (I mean, look at the beginning of the 1990s), it’s hard to find the songs that really seemed to make a difference or were, in fact, enjoyable despite being a lone release from the artist.
For every shite, club night-ending song from Chesney Hawkes or Whigfield, there’s a hit from a team like Althea and Donna. The Jamaican pair shot to number one in the UK with their hit ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ in 1977, proving that there was indeed a wider audience for reggae, particularly the kind that had grammar to infuriate the up-tight English language tutors around the still somewhat culturally-naive country; at least by today’s standards. This was a time before hip-hop and rap, dubstep and grime.
‘Uptown Top Ranking’ only had a week of number one status before Brotherhood of Man, a poor man’s Abba, decided to ruin the party with ‘Figaro’. Althea Forrest and Donna Reid, 17 and 18 respectively, went on to become the youngest female duo to get to the top of the UK chart.
The song opened the eyes and ears of people from the UK to more music from black cultures. It probably improved the chances of Musical Youth in getting their three weeks at the top with ‘Pass the Dutchie’ in 1982, despite its pretty obvious subject (and its juxtaposition with young kids). Then again, it was an epic song.
There’s a true 70s version and a remastered version, both of which are superb. I would usually ask you to get involved with Althea and Donna’s greatest hits, but until now it hasn’t surfaced.I guess it’s obvious why that’s the case.
Stay tuned for another One Hit Wonderland next week.
By Matt Gardner