Classics: Maxi Priest – Close To You (10 Records)
Born in London of Jamaican descent, Maxi Priest built his notoriety for his penchant to blend Reggae with R&B. In other words, what we remember as Reggae Fusion.
‘Close To You’ most likely stands as the best illustration to this. A cut taken from his 1990 ‘Bonafide’ album, it features Sly Dunbar on drum programming with strings courtesy of the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra. This smooth jam somehow reminds of Soul II Soul‘s famous ‘Back To Life’. Eventually borrowing elements of it, it became a Brit-Soul anthem.
Max Alfred Elliott started singing along with South London Reggae soundsystem Saxon Studio International. He therefore established himself as one of the top British Reggae singers back in 1988 with his cover of Cat Stevens‘ classic ‘Wild World’.
Ironically, Maxi Priest happened to be more geared towards R&B than Reggae. Just like Inner Circle whose frontman was Jacob Miller, his cousin…
‘Close To You’ stands as his biggest success ever. As a result, it made him one of the only two British Reggae acts (with UB40) to have an American Billboard number one. Not surprisingly, both of them came to collaborate years after.
‘Set The Night To Music’, a duet with Roberta Flack from the album of the name, remains among his signature songs. Meanwhile ‘That Girl’, a duet with Shaggy, brought him extra recognition Stateside in 1996. This appetite to work with other artists got him to collaborate with Beres Hammond, Jazzie B and Lee Ritenour.