Signing Off (40th Anniversary)

UB40

EMI/UME , 2021

http://ub40.global

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/25/2021

If you're like me, when you hear the name UB40, you immediately think of their cover of Neil Diamond's “Red Red Wine,” which was all over the Billboard Charts, television, and the radio in the '80s.

Before that fame, though, was their 1980 debut Signing Off. Now 40 years old, the reissue treatment seems in order, and this version even has a colored vinyl option in 2xLP format. Included are the original 10 tracks, plus three bonus tracks, housed in the clever, original artwork. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Tyler” starts the record off with hypnotic reggae sounds coated in Ali Campbell's inimitable, smooth vocals and soothing sax fills from Brian Travers. “King” follows and showcases Mickey Virtue's proficient keys in the dreamy landscape, and “12 Bar” continues with a percussively strong presence thanks to Norman Hassan.

The record's singles, “Food For Thought” and “I Think It's Going To Rain Today,” land on side B. The former, which addresses the famine in North Africa, is soulfully textured and includes synth reverb. The latter, a Randy Newman tune, displays Robin Campbell's guitar prowess and Earl Falconer's bouncy bass lines amid no shortage of melody in their timeless formula.

The bonus material leads with the 12 minutes of “Madam Medusa,” where the band's patented meshing of dub, reggae, and pop unfolds with Jimmy Brown's crisp drumming and Campbell's versatile vocals highlighting the mood. Another cover, this time one popularized by Billie Holiday, lands near the end, where the memorable brass and laid back grooves of “Strange Fruit” don't disappoint. The infectious rhythm of “Reefer Madness” exits the listen with a mesmerizing climate.

Like any band who has existed for as many years as UB40, there's been bumps along the way. Regardless of the turmoil within the band, they will always remain one of England's most loved, divers, and original bands, and Signing Off certainly has aged well and sounds better than ever on this reissue.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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