sun 24/03/2019

CD: UB40 - For the Many | reviews, news & interviews

CD: UB40 - For the Many

CD: UB40 - For the Many

The British reggae band release a new Labour of Love

Birmingham’s reggae veterans UB40 are a band who have often worn their politics on their sleeves, and the title of their new album is taken from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party mantra. The parallels between the two have already been noted, of course. After a turbulent time, a split saw a new man thrust into the spotlight while divisions raged and claims were made over who had the rights to the soul of a British institution. Sound familiar? 

In fairness to Duncan Campbell, brother of former singer Ali, he seems to have adapted to his role rather better than the current Labour leader (fair enough – he’s had a decade to do so), and away from the songs we associate so much with his sibling's distinctive tones, he is on safer ground. 

In fact, he’s practically anchored to it, as For the Many is a pleasingly heavy effort. A dub version is also due to be released and, if openers “The Keeper” and “Broken Man” are anything to go by, it could be very interesting indeed. As it is, Jimmy Brown (drums) and Earl Falconer (bass) give both of these songs a satisfyingly weighty bottom end from which rimshot flares and washes of echo appear and withdraw. Given the freedom to roam as the please, who knows where they’d end up? 

Thankfully, the same holds true further elsewhere. “Gravy Train” and “Poor Fool” are rocksteady solid, although the vocal melody occasionally adds unnecessary sweetener into the mix. Attention will, undoubtedly turn to “What Happened to UB40” for evidence of laundry being aired in public. That might be the case, but the headline should be the successful mix of dancehall-influences with 007 brass recorded in a room with reverb to spare. They could do with dropping the autotune, but that’s a small gripe. 

Only “Moonlight Lover” and closer “All We do Is Cry” grate. The former because it sounds like an afterthought compared to everything around it, and the latter because it consists of little more than poorly stitched together platitudes. Which rather leaves us at the parallels we started from. 

Taken as a whole, however, fans will be thrilled with this release. They may not be the most fashionable band on the block, but this sounds close to vintage work from a group who have regained their appetite.

@jahshabby

Comments

Having heard a couple of the tracks from their new album I dont doubt it will be worth the wait. They may not be the most fashionable band on the block to the reviewer, but trust me they are to thousands of true supporters of the band worldwide! Well done UB40. The one, the original!!

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