Monday, 16 March 2015

Vintage Vinyl #7

Althia & Donna - Uptown Top Ranking
Bought from: Kelly's Records, Cardiff
Price paid: £2

Reggae music was garnering more and more mainstream attention in the UK by 1977, thanks in part to the punk movement (especially the Clash, the Ruts, Don Letts and John Peel). Like punk, a lot of reggae was protest music, the sound of disaffected groups railing against the societies they lived in and the desire for freedom.

But like pop music, sometimes it reflected lighter things in life such as fashion and image. One such record was Althia & Donna's Uptown Top Ranking. One of the year's surprise hits, it was a response to Three Piece Suit by Jamaican deejay Trinity and even used the same riddim (which in fact had first appeared a decade earlier on Alton Ellis' I'm Still In Love). Althia and Donna became the youngest female duo to have a UK number one, but sadly they couldn't repeat the success of their debut. While an album of the same name came out the following year, further singles failed to chart and alas the pair are remembered only for this sole song. But hey, what a song!

Uptown Top Ranking was co-written by Althia, Donna and reggae producer Errol Thompson. Thompson, along with Joe Gibbs who produced this record, worked together as The Mighty Two, and the B-side of Uptown Top Ranking is actually credited to them - in essence a dub version of the A-side. I picked up an original copy of the 7" when it practically leapt into my hands from the reggae section at Kelly's. It's in fine condition for its age and well worth the couple of quid I paid.



  1. I remember seeing a patronising patois translator for the song printed in the tabloid press at the time. Unbelievable really. A classic tune.

  2. Worthless trivia moment - this is the song that ended Mull Of Kintyre's nine-week stay at number one. For that alone, it should always be held in high esteem.

  3. A might record indeed! And, in fact, I've myself been driving thru' Constant Spring when honeymooning in Jamaica, up Stony Hill Road all the way north to Annotto Bay and then further west to Port Antonio. The last part of the trip had been achieved in the dark, mind you, which means that no driving experience on earth, as horrible as it might possibly be, might even shock you at the slightest any more ... you'll just laugh about it, knowing you've survived Jamaica's A3!!

  4. Easily my favourite one hit wonder of all time

  5. I simply love the original, but I have to give a big up to Black Box Recorder's John Barry-esque take!