Tuesday, June 8, 2021

"Tomorrow People" by Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers

Song#:  3518
Date:  05/14/1988
Debut:  89
Peak:  39
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Reggae

Pop Bits:  In 1979, reggae legend Bob Marley got his four oldest children, Sharon, Cedella, David (aka Ziggy), and Stephen,  to record a song he wrote titled "Children Playing in the Street." The single would be used as a benefit for the United Nations and their International Year of the Child project. It was released as by the Melody Makers. Ranging in age from 7 to 15, the quartet would begin to focus more on a career together following the death of Bob Marley in 1981. They would release a few singles beginning in '82 and would attempt to record an album, which got shelved. In '85, they would record a debut album, Play the Game Right, with producer Steve Levine (Culture Club). The majority of the songs were written by Ziggy. It would be well-received and would earn the siblings a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album. A second LP, Hey World!, would come out in '86, however this time the group became officially known as Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers. The album got enough attention to reach #96 on the US chart. With their popularity on the increase, the band signed on with Virgin Records and in '88 recorded their third effort Conscious Party, which was produced by Talking Heads members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. This first single was issued out and it did quite well at Rock reaching #16. The tune crossed over to the Pop chart and became the band's first (and only) to crack the Top 40. In doing so, the siblings surpassed their father's best effort on the Pop chart, the 1976 #51 "Roots, Rock, Reggae." Conscious Party would perform well reaching #23 Pop/#26 R&B. It would go gold in the summer of '88 and eventually turn platinum. It would also earn the band their first Grammy win (Best Reggae Album).

ReduxReview: While there have certainly been some reggae songs to make the Pop chart over the years, it wasn't a genre that was continually represented. Just every now and then one would break through and in the late 80s, this was the reggae track that made a few waves. I think it did well thanks to Island giving it a good promotion, a boost from MTV, and having a pair of Talking Heads as producers. Plus, it was just a good song with a hooky chorus. It was an easy jam to groove along with and it was great for summer radio airplay. It should have done better, but the fact that it got in the Top 40 was a good accomplishment and it helped the album become a gold seller, which at the time wasn't all that common for a reggae recording.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  With this song, the siblings surpassed their father's best effort on the US Pop chart. His 1976 single "Roots, Rock, Reggae" would make it to #51. It would end up being is only song to get on the Pop chart. Despite not having singles get on the chart, Bob Marley's albums during the 70s and early 80s performed well with four of his regular studio albums making the Top 50 including his sole Top 10 entry, 1976's Rastaman Vibration (#8). Marley's albums would continue to sell well over the years and more than a decade after his death, five of his studio albums and one live set would all be certified gold. However, all those totaled up don't even come close to the biggest seller in Marley's catalog. In 1984, Island Records put together the compilation Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers. The collection was geared more towards a UK audience where Marley scored six Top 10 hits. When released, the LP reached #1 in the UK and stayed there for 12 weeks. It would also be pushed out in the US, but on its initial chart run, it peaked at #54. However, over the years the LP continued to steadily sell and it would bounce on and off the chart. It would reach a new peak of #18 in 2012, but would finally crack the Top 10 (#5) in 2014 thanks to a 99 cent price sale for the digital version. As of June 7, 2021, the album had spent 680 non-consecutive weeks on the chart (over 13 years) and was still going. Only one album has spent more time on the chart. Pink Floyd's 1973 #1 classic The Dark Side of the Moon hung around for 958 weeks. Sales certainly factor in to chart longevity and Legend has reached the 15 million mark which puts it in the list of the Top 20 best sellers of all time in the US. It is also among the best selling albums worldwide with over 25 million in sales.


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