Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's hard to think of anything more credibility-blowing than admitting you once owned and enjoyed a UB40 album.

But I bought Signing Off when it came out and unless I'm mistaken the bonus 12 inch that came with it is the first dub record I owned.*

I sold the record a few years later (ah, those student days of restricted funds when to get new records you craved you sometimes had to sell off a bunch of things you liked to get cash...).

But you know what, listening, 30 years later, to the Virgin/EMI reissue of Signing Off that came through the mail recently, -- I can see what I saw in it.

Especially with the first double A-sided single, "King" / "Food For Thought", a huge UK hit.

Bass, drums, rhythm guitar, keyboards--they're all rock solid. The singing too, actually, is fine. What lets the side down slightly is the sax, which doesn't have the Jamaican sound, is a bit smarmy and New Wave/New Pop. More Pelican West on mogadon than rootical.

"King" especially is a great tune.

(I mean, be honest now, can you actually remember an Aswad melody, apart from "Don't Turn Around"?)

Now this one, this one is dread.

Singles off the second album are dreary ("One In Ten"), didn't bother checking out that LP.

Then Labour of Love era, which I think is what UB40-hate is mainly based on (and fair enough). (Although "Red Red Wine" is more tolerable in conjunction with the black-and-white kitchen-sink-drama-esque video).

But what about this late period gem?

I bought this at the time. Massive B-line.

* Unless this geezer's LP counts as dub. That would have come out just before Signing Off I think, summer of 1980. PiL themselves were influenced by heavy roots reggae and dub obviously, but their records never actual sound dubby in the classic sense of all those mixing-desk tricks.