Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1098

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UB40: Getting Over The Storm (Universal/Virgin)

UB40: Getting Over The Storm (Universal/Virgin)



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UK release date 02.09.2013

They are back. This countryâs most successful reggae band ever, with 80 million records sold and over 40 UK hit singles. OK, letâs get this bit out of the way. They used to have a lead singer called Ali Campbell and he left a few years ago. Then there were financial issues and a much publicised rift. His brother Duncan replaced him and third Campbell Robin, is still on guitar.

Thatâs all history; and if history is your thing, go watch Time Team. This is the present. Their first album for three years (2nd September release) but something a bit different. A country album, but Iâll clarify that: It is still a reggae album and classic UB40 sounding. But out of the 13 tracks, eight are country covers and five are brand new songs on a country tip.

The only thing to give you a little clue itâs country material is the blissful pedal steel work from Melvin Duffy. If the record label suits do their job, this is a smash hit waiting to happen and will put them back where they belong. At least three hit singles here too.

Boy bands have been plundering the Nashville vaults for years. Reggae artists have always covered country songs, and in Jamaica, everyone owns country records. The idea was sparked when the band re-discovered the unreleased Randy Travis song âOn The Other Hand,â that they cut with the late Robert Palmer. It inspired UB40 sax man Brian Travers to write some country originals, and for the band to sift through their own record collections to choose country songs that would work UB4O stylee. The choice of material is genius.

It opens with Greg Allmanâs âMidnight Rider,â and the band give us gems from George Jones (the title track), Vince Gillâs âIf You Ever Have Forever In Mind,â Buck Owensâ âCrying Time,â Jim Reevesâ âHeâll Have To Go,â The Fred Rose-penned Willie Nelson classic âBlue Eyes Crying In The Rain,â The Randy Travis tune âOn The Other Hand,â the 1929 Great Depression song written by Blind Alfred Reed; âHow Can A Poor Man Stand Such times And Live?â - with modernised lyrics by Duncan Campbell. Note: The originals are as good as the classic covers.

Duncan does a bloody great job on lead vocals for UB40 2013, and there is nothing that doesnât work here from any of the band. Brianâs sublime horn arrangements, the icing on the cake. Lots of tears in your beer ballads here, and it is all more about politics of the heart than slagging off the state of the countryâs politicians, as they have in the past. This is focused on âsomebody-done-somebody-wrongâ songs. But UB40 has most certainly done something very right with this album. Welcome back guys.

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