Promises and Lies – C’Est la Vie.
Another variation in style of music – reggae by UB40 – which is quite variable in sound, not always full-out reggae, but tempered by brass rhythms. This album is one of their best and there are many favourite tracks, but I have chosen the first track because of the strength of the reggae beat.
The track starts with a strong percussion beat that quickly develops that distinctive reggae rhythm as the bass picks up the sound and the singing adds a true Trinidad sound. The lyrics are very good adding to the quality of the song. There are also the odd strange sounds that are common to a lot of UB40 music, all of which builds into a great song.
Live at the Counter Eurovision – Ghetto of the city.
Way back in my student days one of my fellow students told me about a reggae band he had heard around Southall and this is them. Eventually, they got around to recording this album and I really like the music – shame they haven’t recorded many others.
This track is typical of the live sessions that comprise the album (interspersed with political chat that must have fitted the occasion) and is a solid piece of British reggae. Misty are one of the better British reggae bands.
Legends – Buffalo Soldier.
Every record collection should have some reggae by the Legend that is Bob Marley and this album is an excellent way to collect the best tracks quickly.
I love the brass start to this track and the lyrics are so important to listen to, but the real quality lies in the easy reggae rhythm that makes the track immortal. This is a classic that does not age.
Guns in the Ghetto – Friendly Fire.
This album, in my view, has a stronger than usual reggae sound to it (for UB40), but the beat varies a lot between the tracks. I think it is this variation that attracted me to the album.
The title track and this track are, I think, the best two tracks and what I like about this track is the upbeat opening bars, with a percussion that defines the music. The lyrics are very good and typical of much of UB40’s sound. The brass adds to the track making a very good composition.
However, many like the title track more!
Exodus – Three Little Birds.
This is a classic reggae album and one that I have owned (vinyl) since its release (1977). I like to listen to reggae every now and then, but it not my favourite style of music (which you probably have gathered is blues/rock). This album, though, is brilliant.
I don’t know why, but I always forget that this track has this title (I tend to call it “don’t worry about a thing”), but I think it is by far and away the best track on the album. It has a simple reggae beat and brilliant but simple lyrics. It provides a wonderful illustration of Bob Marley’s style and how his reggae music was polished by the production methods to make reggae more popular for a wider audience (I may return to that themes in later blogs).
The Best Of UB40 Vol. One – One In ten.
I have always liked UB40 (their name amuses me for one thing – yes I know what a UB40 form is/was), but it is more their mixture of sounds, including brass and electric with assorted acoustics, applied to a reggae rhythm that I really enjoy. This album is a wonderful collection of the their best tracks and it is difficult to really pick an absolute favourite. Therefore, what I have tried to do is not choose the best know (such as red red wine), but rather concentrate on a genuine UB40 production.
This track has a strong message, which is what I think UB40 are really about. It also is a good reggae beat, which is interspersed with some sounds that include percussion and scratch sounds from a vinyl record and deck. it is difficult not to sing along to the track even if you don’t know all of the words, but it is even better if you learn the words and think about how they apply to your world. Wonderful stuff!