Bellas in the Seventies knew how to do it!
The golden era of natural hair gave me much hair and style inspiration. Today I want to shine a light on two underrated pioneers in the Jamaican reggae scene, Althea and Donna.
In the Seventies, the late great producer Joe Gibbs made 17 year old Althea Forrest and 18 year old Donna Reid international superstars with the song Uptown Top Ranking. They ranked among some of the earlier female reggae DJs, chatting on Seventies roots riddims just like the guys did.
Check them out, with their TWA and big crazy fro in full effect, in their khaki suit and ‘ting.
The song became number one on the UK Singles Chart in February 1978, making Althea and Donna the youngest pair to hit the top of the UK charts. And to this day, Uptown Top Ranking is a classic that has spawned many imitators, borrowers, and remakes. UK music site Freaky Triggerwrote a great tribute to the track, here.
Althea and Donna’s album, Uptown Top Ranking is worth a listen, but few tracks hit as hard or were as original as Uptown, IMO. I love the freespirited vibe of that track. You can check out No More Fighting, If You Don’t Love Jah, and many of their other tracks on YouTube, but they aren’t as fun.
One very underrated track by Althea (sans Donna), is Down Town Thing. Althea croons about going shopping and drinking Heineken. Sounds like a plan for the weekend!
I’m trying to make Throwback Thursday a regular thing again, bellas. Tell me how you feel about it. Nah pop no style, I’m strictly roots!