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 By Kevin Jackson—
 Maxi Priest—-

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, the album Bonafide broke British reggae singer Maxi Priest in the American mainstream market.

Released in June 1990, the 12-track set had a strong cast of Jamaican producers: Handel Tucker, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chung and Augustus Clarke as well as Briton Nellee Hooper, known for his work with Soul II Soul).

The drum-and-bass team of Dunbar and Shakespeare led an impressive list of musicians including keyboardist Robbie Lyn, drummer Cleveland ‘Clevie’ Browne and guitarist Danny Browne.

“Working on Bonafide was an amazing experience for me. We brought over Sly, Robbie, Handel and Geoffrey to England when we were worked on the album. Having such a wealth of expertise in the room working on each song was like an operation with four of the best doctors in the room,” Priest said in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Bonafide was released by Charisma Records, a subsidiary of Capitol Music. Some of its tracks are Just a Little Bit Longer, Close to You, Best of Me, Space in My Heart, Temptress and Prayer for The World.

Close to You topped the Billboard Hot 100 during the summer of 1990 and peaked at number seven on the UK national chart. Just a Little Bit Longer stalled at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100, while Space in My Heart reached number 76 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.

Bonafide, which peaked at number 47 on the Billboard 200 Album chart, was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Jamaica (RIAA) for sales of over 500,000 copies.

It was the biggest seller for Priest who had made a name as a lovers rock artist in England.


Priest said he did not expect the album to have done as well as it did, but added he knew there was something special about it upon completion.

“When you walk into the situation, you wanted to do well. I walked in with the strength of these well-known producers, so the bonus is the fact that the album sold well,” he explained.

Bonafide’s success opened doors for the London-born singer, whose parents are Jamaican.

“So many things started to come at me. Movies, more mainstream radio play, more interviews and more television appearances. I was even on the Oprah show,” he recalled. “With success comes opportunities.”

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