Uptown Top Ranking: In memoriam Joe Gibbs

When Joe Gibbs began to sell records in his TV repair shop in Kingston he did not know that this would change his life completely. He soon got a simple two-track recorder and in 1967 he started to record the local talent in the back of his shop.

From then on he would become one of the most influential producers of jamaican music which evolved from Ska to Rock-Steady and finally to Reggae.

Ten years later his productions would become a big influence on the emerging punk scene and in 1978 he produced the number one hit "Uptown Top Raning" by Althea & Donna. To this day I have never met anyone who doesn´t like this bizzare one-hit wonder.

Althea & Donna: Uptown Top Ranking
"Uptown Top Ranking" is one of those songs that used an already well known riddim which was (and still is) recycled every now and then.
Originally it was the music for "I am still in love" by Alton Ellis. It was later used by Marcia Aitken as "I´m sill in love with you boy". Recently the riddim was used in its entirety or as a sample by many producers.

Sadly, jamaican music (and Jamaica) has recently got a very bad reputation because of raging homophobia and gay-bashing. While some of the music that was released during the last ten years is downright disgusting in its hate for the so called "Batty Men" it should not be forgotten that especially in its formative years some Ska and Rock-Steady tunes were the most original music ever made.

Here is Big Youth with "Last train to Rhodesia".
He also worked with Joe Gibbs and his style was a mixture of upbeat music with social conscious lyrics.

Joe Gibbs died aged 65 one week ago.

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