1987 – UK Reggae Number Ones

The advent of dancehall, digital and ragga really shook things up on the reggae scene during the Eighties. However, this didn’t halt the proliferation of home-grown talent which specialized in producing lovers rock for the masses. The year was bookended by two of what have since become masterpieces of the genre. In between, the chart was dominated by dancehall tracks, a couple of soul covers, straight-ahead Jamaican reggae and a leftfield Big People’s anthem. Only eleven records hit the top spot during 1987. As usual, an asterisk denotes non-consecutive weeks at No.1. LATELY | The Natural-Ites | Realistics 6 wks The Natural-Ites hailed from Nottingham and had first made an impression with Close To Me. Their rootsy Picture On The Wall was a massive hit in 1983. Black Roses was another popular tune in 1984. Lately was in the lovers-rock style and features a wicked rub-a-dub ridim with blazing horns and heartfelt vocals with great harmonies. For me – and no doubt many others – their greatest song. AGONY | Pinchers | Live & Love 7 wks Appearing early in 1987 from Jamaica on Jammy’s, this digital dancehall classic was swiftly released in the UK on Third World’s Live & Love subsidiary on 12-inch and shot to the top of the charts. Pinchers (Delroy Thompson) is one of the greatest and unique dancehall singers and this was his biggest smash of the 80s. As one of the biggest and brightest stars of 1987 he produced a voluminous amount of tunes Continue reading

1977 – UK Soul Number Ones

The first issue of Black Echoes in 1977 was dated January 1st. In the Soul Singles chart, KC & The Sunshine Band were knocked off their Christmas top-spot by a group who had already had a few hits on the chart, including a No.1. The year saw a good mixture of bands, soloists, vocal groups and instrumentalists all make their way to the top of the chart. The chart-toppers were dominated by American acts – but a British band and a trio of French disco experimentalists broke through. Unusually, all the weeks at No.1 by all of the acts were consecutive. There were 22 records in all. Spin ’em: CAR WASH | Rose Royce | MCA 7 wks As a precursor to my personal insight on this particular single, please see the 2nd blog – 1976 Soul Number Ones. It gives you the initial lowdown on this essential disco cut. Suffice to say, this was the first No.1 soul single of ’77 and what a scorcher! Topping the charts for an impressive 7 weeks, it was the title-track to a comedy film starring Richard Pryor. Producer Norman Whitfield created the soundtrack which strongly featured the group. With its distinctive opening handclaps, the song (sung with soulful energy by lead vocalist Gwen Dickey) captured the imagination of everyone – topping the US pop charts along the way and reaching the Top 10 in the UK. This was the group’s second UK Soul Singles No.1 hit. DON’T LEAVE ME THIS WAY | Continue reading

1990 – UK Soul & Dance Number One Albums

A total of 27 albums topped the album charts in 1990. It was a year that saw traditional soul artists such as Anita Baker, Freddie Jackson and Johnny Gill rub shoulders with rap acts like LL Cool J, Boogie Down Productions, Master Ace and Public Enemy. UK soul also predominated with Soul II Soul, Loose Ends, Caron Wheeler and Omar all achieving No.1 status on the chart. In chronological order, here is a rundown of the Number One Soul & Dance Albums of 1990. An asterisk indicates non-consecutive weeks at the pinnacle whilst a cross refers to the album being an imported issue. BEYOND A DREAM | By All Means | Island 1 wk This was the second of three albums by this Californian soul trio. Their update of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On was the single taken from the LP. I’d Rather Be Lonely has since become something of a connoisseurs cut. THAT’S HOW I’M LIVING | Tony Scott | Next Plateau+ 2 wks* The title track was a massive hip-house hit in 1989, released by Champion in the UK. Its success was also attributable to the flipside The Chief. His real name was Peter van der Bosch and he was one of the few successful Dutch rap artists. His Love Let Love from later in the year is considered to be a New Jack Swing classic. DONE BY THE FORCES OF NATURE | Jungle Brothers | Warner Bros. 1 wk The group’s previous set Straight Out The Jungle Continue reading

1976 – UK Soul Number Ones

The first UK Soul Singles chart was published in the launch issue of Black Echoes on January 30th 1976. It was the first of the only weekly soul charts published in the UK at the time. Black Music published a soul singles chart monthly whilst Blues & Soul published a fortnightly chart. Not surprisingly, the Motown label dominated the chart during its first year – notching up 17 hits, including two No.1 smashes. In 1976, 204 titles entered the chart of which 126 reached the Top 10. 146 separate acts made the charts on 62 different record labels – including two US imports. There were 83 groups which made the chart – the most successful of which were War and The Stylistics who both had four hits that year. Of the 44 male acts which made the chart, Barry White was the only one to have four hits, the most of all the male artists. Only 18 female singers reached the chart in 1976 – Diana Ross reigning supreme with four hits for Motown. The following is a breakdown of just 20 records that reached the coveted No.1 slot. Love Machine | The Miracles | Tamla Motown 1 wk In 1975, prior to this record’s release in November, the only single released by The Miracles that year was a UK-only issue cover of an old Brotherhood Of Man hit called ‘Where Are You Going To My Love’. It failed to make the pop charts and only die-hard soul fans seemed Continue reading

1976 – UK Reggae Number Ones

The chart returns system in the UK back in the 70s (and beyond) was not a fair one. Sales records for the national singles and albums charts were made up almost entirely of high street shops and chains. In the main, independent record shops throughout the country were not called upon to supply their sales data – which meant that the majority of independently released music (across all specialist genres) was absent from the national charts. The reggae scene in the mid-Seventies was thriving with an ever-increasing number of small independent labels springing up in London, Birmingham and other cities and towns. Major reggae companies such as Vulcan, Third World, Jama and Klik were releasing some tracks which most certainly would have made the ‘pop’ charts had the sales figures of these tunes been returned from the specialist shops. Getting their records distributed into the high street shops was a real problem. However, their sales were reflected in what was initially called the UK Reggae 20 which was first published on January 30th 1976. Thereafter, it was compiled and published on a weekly basis for decades. In 1976, there were 199 entries onto the chart released on 66 different labels (including four Jamaican pre-release imports) by 127 reggae acts. The following is a breakdown – in chronological order – of the 19 records which topped the chart during that year. Midnight Rider | Paul Davidson | Tropical  1 wk Paul’s reggae rendition of Gregg Allman’s 1973 hit song was recorded Continue reading