Throwback Thursday — Althea and Donna

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.

DJs like Althea and Donna, Sister Carol. Sister Nancy, and Mother Liza, were the predecessors leading the way for later dancehall queens to follow.

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!

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Comments

  1. st.kitts 'suga' bella says:

    i would enjoy more of these, definitely. my mom’s about your age, and i dont have the privilege of a relationship with either of my parents… so i would love to hear more about the music more likely to be relevant to her time and place.

    having grown up in rural st.vincent what she would have been listening to is probably more similar to the genres you heard around, rather than what i know off hand about the general music scene of that era (from an american retrospective)

  2. Welcome back Thursday Throwback! Thanks.

  3. “Uptown Ranking” is one of my all time favorite songs.

    “See mi in mi heels an’ ting/dem check seh mi hip an’ ting”

    Big tune!

  4. mochachoc says:

    hahaha! Oh my gosh I havent heard this in yonks. Thank you ever so much for bringing back some me-mo-ries. ina mi khaki soot an’ting. LOVE IT

  5. This brings back alot of memories! My mother would sing this song whenever she was getting ready to go out lol, she’d put emphasis on the part “Gimme likkle bass mek me whine up me waist”. That cracked me and my brother up lol. Enjoy your Easter weekend everyone :o)

  6. This is really fun! These ladies look like they were having a fun time up there. Thanks for the post. Lovely blog!

    Check out my designer blog
    nzingaknight.wordpress.com

    It’s all about my journey and accomplishments as a young fashion designer.

  7. Althea and Donna are beyond adorable in this video, and their music is so refreshing and joyful.

    So much of the music my 15 yo daughter listens to is screamo or just plain offensive… Thank you for sharing these artists with me and I will pass this onto her as well.

  8. flygyrl72 says:

    Ha! Awesome. They look fly as hell!

  9. This song defines my childhood. My mother danced around everytime this song came on the radio, even though I was born in the 90′s. Big ‘chune. Best song ever.

    Love is all I bring, inna me khaki suit and ting.

  10. This is THE TUNE.

    Reminds me of family barbeques & my older cousins doing the old-west-indian-uncle-with-heineken-or-red-stripe-beer-in-hand dance for jokes, and of the first time I heard the Sean Paul song “I’m still in Love” and nobody my age knowing what I was talking about when I said this was the original song.

    Aaah, i love this blog.<3

  11. It’s arduous to seek out educated folks on this matter, but you sound like you already know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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