Tuesday, December 7, 2021

"Wild World" by Maxi Priest

Song#:  3694
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  95
Peak:  25
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Reggae, R&B

Pop Bits:  Max Elliott was born in England after his parents made the move there from Jamaica. He was exposed to many of the great Jamaican artists along with current pop/R&B hitmakers. Elliott began singing in church and as a teen performed with Saxon Studio International, a reggae sound system that performed around London (a "sound system" is rooted in Jamaican culture and is a group of DJs/MCs that typically play reggae and ska music for street parties/events). As he developed his musical skills, Elliott thought that perhaps he'd give it a go as a solo artist. He got the attention of the Virgin Records offshoot label 10 Records and signed up with them. By that time he had changed his name to Maxi Priest and in 1985 he would release his first solo effort, You're Safe. Nothing much came of it, but his next effort, '86's Intentions, did better. With the LP, Priest started to do a fusion of reggae and R&B and it resulted in four lower-charting singles in the UK. The attention gained from the singles helped to set up Priest for what would be his breakthrough third album Maxi. Released in the UK in '87, its first single, "Some Guys Have All the Luck," which had been a #10 hit for Rod Stewart in '84, reached #15. A second single didn't do as well, but then this third single would help his star rise. It would get to #5 in the UK and in-turn would then prompt a release of the single and the album (under the title Maxi Priest) in the US. The track would end up doing well hitting #10 at AC and making the Pop Top 30. The album would then get to #108.

ReduxReview:  If you were a reggae-based artist and wanted to break through in the US in the 80s/90s, it seems doing a cover tune was the way to go. UB40 had success doing that and the formula would also benefit Maxi Priest. Reggae was not a genre that a mainstream US audience gravitated to, but if someone covered an old hit in a reggae style, then that was somehow more palatable. I wasn't necessarily a fan of these remakes and tended to ignore them, but this one by Maxi Priest wasn't too bad. The song was a good fit for the reggae rhythms and it was delivered in a pleasant, unadorned way by Priest. It definitely wasn't amazing and inspired, but it was listenable.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam). It was a track on Stevens' 1970 breakthrough fourth album Tea for the Tillerman. Released as a single in '71, "Wild World" would be Stevens' first single to chart in the US. It got to #11, which then helped the LP get to #2. Eventually, it would sell over three million copies. Many artists would cover the song, but only two others besides Maxi Priest would reach the Pop chart with the song. Garage rock band The Gentrys would cover the tune and release it as a single in '71. It would only get to #97. Later in '93, the rock band Mr. Big would take their version to #27 Pop/#33 Rock.  2) Maxi Priests' fourth LP, 1990's Bonafide, would be his most successful release. Its first single, "Close to You," would be a gold seller that reached #1 Pop/#2 R&B/#12 Dance/#15 AC. The hit would helped the album get to #47 and go gold. Priest would hit the Pop Top 10 one more time. In '91, Roberta Flack would record "Set the Night to Music," a Diane Warren-penned song that was originally recorded by Starship in '87 (#9 AC). The track would be turned into a duet and Priest brought on board to sing with Flack. The single would become a hit getting to #6 Pop/#2 AC/#45 R&B. Priest's last significant hit in the US was the 1996 "That Girl," which featured reggae artist Shaggy. It got to #20 Pop/#34 R&B.


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