1995 – UK Reggae Number Ones

As recorded in the very first blog, back in 1976 there were 19 records that topped the chart during the initial year of the UK Reggae 20. For the first few years of the reggae charts, most of the singles averaged one or two weeks at the top, with only a select few having a longer run. This meant that there were sometimes as many as 24 records hitting the top-spot (1979). By the mid-80s, the trend had reversed and fewer records were reaching No.1 but for much longer periods. In 1995 only ten records reached the top! The tunes are a mixture of lovers rock, bashment, ragga and roots. These are the hits – mostly, massive hits! As always, an asterisk signifies non-consecutive weeks at the top spot.

PERFECT LADY | Peter Hunningale | Fashion 2 wks

Peter Hunningale first topped the reggae charts in 1989 on his combination tune with Tippa Irie called Ragamuffin Girl. Dubbed Mr. Honey Vibes, his sweet singing style has firmly established him as one of the kingpin UK lovers rock vocalists. Perfect Lady is a slice of lovers rock perfection. I love the intro – the bleeps from Diana Ross & The Supremes’ Reflections is overlapped by Prince Jazzbo intoning “Sound to keep you movin’” before the ridim drops (Pretty Looks) and the song begins. This tune remains a true party classic. Most definitely one for the ravers.

BABY PLEASE | Peter Hunningale | Saxon 1 wk

From one ravers classic to another, this is one of the rare instances of an artist replacing themselves at No.1 on either the reggae or soul charts – it’s a distinctly uncommon feat and very impressive. Baby Please is another delicious slice of lovers rock magic from Mr. Hunningale – and a true rub-off-wallpaper tune. It’s catchy, it’s melodic, it’s harmonic, it’s a real treat. This one will never die.

SLAM | Beenie Man | Madhouse 9 wks

Dancehall vibes that really did mash up the place back in ’95. This ridim is ‘Arab Attack’ and was popularised by a slew of versions on the Madhouse label – pure bashment business, produced by Dave Kelly. Biggies included: Wayne Wonder’s Honey’s Fine; Professor Nuts with Funny Guy; Frisco Kid with You And Yuh Man and a next cut Yvette; Louie Culture’s rootsy Salute To Ghetto Youth; Spragga Benz’ duet with Nadine Sutherland called Please Me, plus his own Body Good (love that); General Degree with Mr. Tickle; Terror Fabulous with two tunes – Behold and Open The Door; not forgetting Daddy Screw & Donovan Steele with Buff Up Yuh Chest. But the biggest of them all was this almighty version by Beenie Man which lit up dancehall dancefloors all over the world. He also did a less successful cut called Wickedest Ride. Without a doubt, Beenie Man was hotter than fire at this time – his nine weeks at No.1 is testament to that fact.

RAMPAGE | Buju Banton | Cell Block 321 4 wks

Buju Banton had sprung to prominence in 1992 when his gruff style took Jamaica by storm. His ascendance and popularity was marred outside of JA by his sometimes controversial lyrics – in particular the homophobic Boom Bye Bye, which glorified the killing of gay men. However, that tune’s extremely questionable content did not prevent it from topping the UK reggae charts for six weeks. Champion was another No.1 tune in 1994. Rampage hit the No.1 spot in April 1995 and stayed there for four weeks. Released in Jamaica and the UK on Buju’s own Cell Block 321 label. He is currently incarcerated on drugs and firearms charges in the US.

PRAISE HIM  | Sanchez | Penthouse 2 wks

Kevin Jackson (Sanchez’ real name) had begun making waves on the reggae scene in the late Eighties with tunes like Loneliness Won’t Leave Me Alone, a version of Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You Tonight (No.1 in the UK reggae charts for 5 weeks in 1989) and  Love Is The Power (another No.1 in ’89). Amazing Grace topped the charts for 5 weeks in 1990, I Can’t Wait did exactly the same in 1991 and the wonderful Missing You Now reached the top spot in 1993. Combining reggae with spiritual and gospel music has proved very successful for this distinctive singer. Praise Him was his sixth No.1 reggae hit in the UK.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH | Mikey Spice | Runn 5 wks

The first of two chart-toppers in 1995 for Mikey Spice, this incredible lovers rock rub-a-dub version of the Barry White soul smash really shook the rafters with its rumbling bass, rolling ridim and soulful vocals. A reggae classic all the way.

YOUR WORLD AND MINE/IT’S ME AGAIN JAH | Luciano | Island Jamaica 11 wks

With its thoughtful and uplifting lyrics, rocking reggae ridim, positive vibes and Luciano’s great vocals, Your World And Mine would have been a No.1 smash in its own right. With another Jamaican hit It’s Me Again Jah on the flip, the song was a double-sided smash. The flip’s sax riff borrows the refrain from Burt Bacharach & Hal David’s song A House Is Not A Home. It was top of the charts for an amazing 11 weeks.

MAVIS | Merciless | Big Yard 9 wks*

With his catchpherase “Well, well!” Merciless had a strong voice like Bounty Killer (one of his ‘rivals’) but made much funnier records. Mavis will forever remind me of the Notting Hill Carnival – in 1995, nearly every sound was playing it! The lyrics of the song are hilarious and tell the tale of poor Mavis: “Gal ah fly all di way from Paris, And a tell me of how she ‘fraid of Chuck Norris, She no want no man to t’ump and box and kick, Mavis want a man dat is romantic – well, well!” Released on Big Yard, the tune utilises the ‘Boombastic’ ridim which was to replace it at No.1. Like Luciano’s No.1 previous, this also spent a long stretch at No.1 – 9 weeks in total. Robert Livingston flicking switches on production duties. Other big tunes I love by Merciless include Gal Dem Gizzada, Mr. War War, Work Dem, Girls From Near And Far and Mr. Houdini.

BOOMBASTIC | Shaggy | Virgin 3 wks

Shaggy’s Oh Carolina hit No.1 in the reggae charts at the beginning of 1993 and stayed there for a then unprecedented 12 weeks. Surprisingly, it also reached No.1 in the UK pop charts. As did this one a couple of years later, in addition to topping the reggae charts. The album from which it was taken won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album. Shaggy’s single was a rare example of a No.1 single replacing another with the same ridim track.

WHEN YOU’RE LONELY | Mikey Spice | Digital-B 5 wks

Mikey’s second No.1 of the year was this Christmas chart-topper and was heard all over the Yuletide season. Another Jamaican lovers rock vibe, this is quality through and through.

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