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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Signing Off

UB40

1980

Signing Off
Album Summary

Signing Off is the debut album by British reggae band UB40, released in the UK on 29 August 1980 by Dudley-based independent label Graduate Records. It was an immediate success in their home country, reaching number 2 on the UK albums chart, and made UB40 one of the many popular reggae bands in Britain, several years before the band found international fame. The politically-concerned lyrics struck a chord in a country with widespread public divisions over high unemployment, the policies of the recently elected Conservative party under Margaret Thatcher, and the rise of the racist National Front party, while the record's dub-influenced rhythms reflected the late 1970s influence in British pop music of West Indian music introduced by immigrants from the Caribbean after the Second World War, particularly reggae and ska – this was typified by the 2 Tone movement, at that point at the height of its success and led by fellow West Midlands act The Specials, with whom UB40 drew comparisons due to their multiracial band line-up and socialist views. Still considered by many fans and music critics to be UB40's best album, Signing Off was reissued for its 30th anniversary in 2010 as a "collector's edition" containing bonus tracks and a DVD of the videos for the singles plus television footage of the band from the time of the album's release.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.93

Votes

7819
Genres
Reggae

Reviews

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Wed Jan 26 2022
2

Boring. Extra star awarded for hating Tories

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Wed Apr 07 2021
4

You can't beat a bit of Brummie Reggae. A throw back to early 1980s black inequality, three million unemployed and on the dole in Thatcher's inner city Britain. A classic album, and a great document of that era. Used millions of times, usually accompanied with grainy news footage of inner city squaller, queues at the job centre, inner city riots, burnt out cars and striking industrial union members.

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Sat Apr 17 2021
3

Did not realize UB40 sang political messaging, so a bit more respect to them. I'm not a huuuge fan of Reggae but as this goes it's pretty good. Reggae is kind of nice background music for me. It all is groovy and easy listening.

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Sat Apr 17 2021
3

I tend to like the more dubby instrumental tracks/passages here. Always a fan of deep prominent basslines. It's okay but wouldn't be my first choice for reggae, etc.

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Fri Apr 16 2021
2

i can only imagine that in the 80s the united kingdoms was resplendent with reggae norm macdonalds putting unique and terrible white boy flows on reggae

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Wed Apr 07 2021
5

UB40, political motivated lyrics influenced by their folk singing families. Formed whilst signing on, Ali Campbell was glassed in the face and his eye popped out, with the compensation he bought a drum kit for the band. They drank the rest of the cash in the local pub. Now split due to disagreements about money Ali and Astro tour signing the hits whilst Robin Campbell his brother is suing Ali, what a shambles. Great songs that tell a story of the social struggles of the 80s in reggae.

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Mon Apr 19 2021
4

Eh, it's ok. White guys singing reggae always makes me laugh. +1 stars for being from Birmingham

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Fri Feb 04 2022
2

I loved the sax added to the reggae vibe. I thought that was cool and unique. Otherwise it was awfully redundant. I could have Listened to the first 30 seconds of each song and still gotten the same experience musically

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Sun Mar 20 2022
2

Later UB40 is very annoying. Early UB40 as seen here has a few decent songs but is mostly forgettable.

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Thu Apr 14 2022
2

I don't get reggae, never did. But at least with Marley, I get that he's the real deal and a pioneer. UB40 just sound fake and lame. This is what I imagine my personal hell sounds like. F

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Wed Apr 27 2022
2

If it is not Bob Marley, the appeal to reggae is hard to feel. While the songs and styling are certainly reggae, this foray into pop puts a clear line of demarcation between pop reggae and reggae as a culture. The positive and well-earned critique is that UB40 does reggae really well as a song and musical style. The sounds and pop infused elements make for a different yet acceptable take. However, and perhaps this is the differentiator of what Bob Marley gave us vs. what other reggae artists have done is that there is a measure of heart and soul in the cultural significance of Bob Marley that we truthfully need to consider not holding other reggae artists accountable to. As objectively as possible, UB40's "Signing Off" is a good, well executed reggae pop album if the listener is into it for the sake of reggae... and pop. The sounds are clean and the groovy elements are all the signature expectations that one might have listening to reggae, but with more pop. For this review however, the premise is based on whether or not this album is a prerequisite to the afterlife, and that is difficult to really justify here.

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Sat May 15 2021
5

Love the vibes of the album. Need to throw it into my reggae and ska rotation.

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Mon Mar 15 2021
5

Awesome, a classic imo and so chill Didn't know they were british but knowing this list it checks out

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Fri May 07 2021
5

Nice and chill! It's the anti- Margaret Thatcher message for me. 9

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Sun Mar 07 2021
5

Wow. Creo que este ha sido la mayor sorpresa hasta el momento. Yo tenía la impresión de una banda de reggae que hacía cosas pegajosas, no tenía idea que tenían semejante declaración de principios y tremendos rolones. Hasta voy a conseguir el vinil, está verguísima esto.

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Fri Apr 02 2021
5

The first song was named after me. 5 stars, naturally.

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Thu Jun 17 2021
5

This is fantastic, had always written off UB40 as a pop-reggae group but this is very roots/dub orientated.

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Wed Apr 07 2021
5

An amazing album, both musically and production-wise.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
5

Unbelievable… had know idea these cats pumped out such great dub. I’ll be revisiting this album 100%

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Fri Oct 01 2021
5

Debut album of the most successfull reggae band in the world. Perfect! Must be listened.

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Thu Dec 02 2021
5

I like how this group brings forward political statements especially songs about truth during the time this was written.

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Mon Dec 13 2021
5

4.5/5. Very cool sound effects and backstory behind album + band name. 👍

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Mon Jan 17 2022
5

One of the best things about @1001_albums_gen is reading the backstory of the albums - because this is a fabulous, non-covers debut album i'd never heard. They locked themselves away for a year learning instruments to play - and it's fab!

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Mon Jan 24 2022
5

this is nice pure fucking vibes mm mm mmmmm a very long album but i listened gradually throughout the day and it was so lovely i can’t really fault it

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Wed Apr 20 2022
5

Sunny days on the beach kinda vibe

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Sun Apr 24 2022
5

Very cool. I would describe this style as the prog-rock of whatever umbrella genre this album belongs to.

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Fri Jul 08 2022
5

Super chill reggae sounds, love it! Don't think I'd have checked this one out without this, so I'm really glad!

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Fri Oct 14 2022
5

I had no idea that prior to being the house wives' favourite reggae-lite pop band UB40 were a politically charged reggae behemoth. The music on display here is rudimentary, it's clearly a band still learning to play, but the album is all the better for that. The rough around the edges feel provides an authenticity that you're not getting with Red, Red Wine! There's a soulful, sax driven, feel to the album that makes it much more than a straight up derivative of Jamaica's dub legends. I absolutely loved this album which I did not expect.

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Thu Nov 17 2022
5

Expected: Red Red Wine Received: Dank Dank Dubs

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Mon Nov 28 2022
5

How can a band making this political, interesting, honest album filled with Dub and other fantastic rhythms make such rubbish afterwards? Madame Medusa, Food for Thought, Burden of Shame, King, Tyler, album is full of true classics. This one deserves the full 5 stars!

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Thu Jan 05 2023
5

Reggae klassieker, de remaster vond ik ook wel goed. Plaat die bij de favorieten kan.

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Wed May 10 2023
5

Chill reggae sounds, love this Saved tracks: Tyler, King, Burden of Shame, I Think It’s Going To Rain Today, Food For Thought, Madam Medusa

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Thu May 18 2023
5

While not known for much more than Red Red Wine by novice reggae listeners, the music of UB40 is highly significant to most serious reggae listeners. When they emerged in Birmingham in the late 1970's with this album leading wave after wave, suddenly a new alternative to Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and other early pioneers hit the scene. And while reggae is often accused of "all sounds the same", it isn't. The sound of UB40's Signing Off, the lyrics, and the overall originality of its ideas have led it to be a major stand out above many lackluster reggae albums out there in the universe. For example, the keyboard sounds that lead 'King' are unique to this song and as far as I know aren't on any other band's reggae albums to date. The waves of baritone and the tight rhythms are in constant play across the album and work very nicely together. We had this album at least by the early 1980's and it got a lot of play in the house. A lot of it is instrumental and the spare words mean that the focus here is on instrumentation and rhythm, the two things that UB40 did very well. The timing too is excellent. 'Tyler' at 1:39 is a very good example of the genius of their timing. For the record, Red Red Wine is their absolute worst song. That song is kind of UB40's Touch of Grey if that resonates.

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Mon May 22 2023
5

Well this is a pleasant surprise. I'd never heard this before and thought was absolutely on point. A great achievement

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Thu Jun 22 2023
5

another great album from a band and genre i have basically no experience with. this list can be bad sometimes but when it’s good, it’s excellent. reggae is always political, but this was really political in a way i love, and you can also vibe to it.

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Thu Jun 22 2023
5

Surprisingly fantastic. Jammy in a satisfying way. It’s one of those albums where it’s hard to describe what exactly makes it great. It’s both nothing and everything. It held my attention for an hour and 6 minutes, I can’t give a much more ringing endorsement than that.

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Tue Jul 25 2023
5

In 1979 I drank in the Castle & Falcon, Balsall Heath, Birmingham. I remember one night a guy burst in saying "look, my cousins have made it big!" and showing everyone who would listen a newspaper clipping. UB40 had a chart hit. This album is hugely evocative of that time. I bought it, and bought another copy for my girlfriend. I later worked in an unemployment benefit office and became very familiar with the UB40 which makes up the fantastic cover sleeve. This was easily the best UB40 album and though I love the band and they did lots of good stuff over the years, this was by far their artistic highpoint. It's brilliant.

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Mon Sep 11 2023
5

Actually really enjoyed this.

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Wed Sep 20 2023
5

I always thought of UB40 as more ska than reggae, butthis is a hardcore reggae dub album - loved it.

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Wed Sep 27 2023
5

A great album that I don't want to forget.

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Thu Sep 28 2023
5

This album is a testament to UB40's ability to infuse reggae with a distinctive British twist. From the first track, "Tyler," with its politically charged lyrics, to the soulful "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," "Signing Off" offers a diverse musical journey. The band's use of horns and dub-style production sets them apart in the genre, creating a unique sound that's both infectious and thought-provoking. One of the standout tracks is "King," which showcases the band's socially conscious lyrics, addressing themes of poverty and inequality. The song's skanking rhythm and haunting melody make it an anthem of resistance. Another gem is "Food for Thought," with its upbeat tempo and powerful lyrics that reflect on the struggles of urban life. UB40's cover of Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" is a poignant, stripped-down moment on the album. It showcases the band's ability to breathe new life into familiar songs, making them their own with their reggae-infused interpretations. What makes "Signing Off" enduring is its lyrical relevance and universal themes. The album speaks to issues that remain pertinent today, such as social injustice and the human condition. The band's commitment to addressing these themes through their music has solidified their place in music history. "Signing Off" is a landmark album that ushered in a new era for British reggae. UB40's fusion of reggae with socially conscious lyrics and their unique sound continues to inspire and resonate with audiences worldwide. It's an album that stands the test of time, making it a must-listen for anyone exploring the rich tapestry of reggae music.

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Wed Nov 08 2023
5

This is a very smooth jam. I'm adding this to my collection, thanks.

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Wed Nov 29 2023
5

Great bit of reggae with interesting lyrics

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Thu May 27 2021
4

This is pretty enjoyable, actually. I hadn’t ever heard of them, but I do like reggae.

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Thu May 06 2021
4

I really like the UB40 vibe. There are some good songs in the mix, and the tail end of the album really fines a nice groove. In the middle there is a slight sameness... i'll still round up a little bit since i like the sound.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

I’ve never listened to their music aside from red red wine. So we’ll see, I’m not the biggest reggae fan. So far it’s actually been quite enjoyable. Very groovy. I wish red red wine was on this album

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Sat May 22 2021
4

J’aimbien aime le regea . Un bon vibe et de bon musiciens !4.25

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Sun Mar 07 2021
4

Pachecón, que así describirlo, tratandose de reggae, es una redundancia. Me gustó el toque de sax. Canción favorita: Madam Medusa, porque sí está mareadora. Mood: hiperfrito

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Fri May 07 2021
4

7/10. Might even have been a bit higher, it felt a little bit more interesting than some of the other Reggae albums we've had.

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Thu Feb 18 2021
4

i like this one! some of the songs aren't that notable but it's still fun to listen to the album lol

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Thu Apr 01 2021
4

Enjoyed listening to this one 👍

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Mon May 24 2021
4

Nice chilled reggae, good background music

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Mon May 24 2021
4

Cool instrumental reggae. Very chill.

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Sun Jul 25 2021
4

Great album and one I will play again. Way ahead of their time.

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Thu Aug 19 2021
4

Some quality tunes on this album.

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Thu Nov 18 2021
4

Amazing songs, great production, a little long

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Fri Nov 19 2021
4

Excelente disco de reggae para ambientar y para disfrutar.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
4

Super white boy reggae from the Campbell Bros et al. Highlights are "King" a great reggae version of "Strange Fruit" (I wonder what Billie Holliday would have thought?) and "Food For Thought" Lovely time educing sounds

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Fri Nov 26 2021
4

Nice hearing their early stuff, actually, rather than the hits that have been crammed down my ears since childhood! Plus one star out of Brummie pride... Fave track - "Tyler" was a great opening. "Reefer Madness" was fun, too.

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Mon Jan 03 2022
4

Super horn section, classy reggae riffs, such a great group, I loved it.

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Wed Jan 26 2022
4

I don’t always go sniffing for reggae, but this was very relaxing

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Fri Feb 04 2022
4

Jako opuštajuće, zrači nekom srećom

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Sun Feb 27 2022
4

Better than expected- good tunes good politics

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Fri Mar 04 2022
4

Top albumpje met een paar klassiekertjes erop

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Mon Mar 21 2022
4

Really liked this album! I don't listen to enough reggae so I'm glad to know of this band

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Mon Apr 11 2022
4

Great melodies, loved the way they incorporated jazz ska and reggae a reggae classic! Main Critism was it was two long :(

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Sun Jul 17 2022
4

Just-right reggae, with squeaky clean beats and perfectly balanced tempos, nary a note goes wrong.

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Wed Aug 10 2022
4

It's a chill Reggae album, has some fine ass tunes. 4/5

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Fri Aug 12 2022
4

Never really knew anything outside of "Red Red Wine" from this band but the whole album is pretty chill. I think I've always wrote off reggae as stoner music but I should give it another chance because I really liked the entire album.

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Thu Aug 25 2022
4

Lovely bit of reggae-dub to chill out to.

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Wed Sep 14 2022
4

Takes me back. the 80s were a great time for reggae and ska to hit the mainstream.

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Thu Oct 06 2022
4

I really enjoyed this. They were doing it long before I knew about them...

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Thu Oct 06 2022
4

Really didn't want to like this. In my memory, UB40 is Red Red Wine, and The Way You Do the Things You Do. This album was not that. I really enjoyed these songs, front to back a very enjoyable album, I'll definitely add some of these tracks to my playlists.

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Fri Oct 07 2022
4

I think, as Americans, we often think of reggae from anywhere but Jamaica as poser music. But that's an ameri-centric view that's almost offensively dismissive of the Jamaican diaspora's impact on British culture. Reggae and ska (the original stuff, not the Cali-ska, third wave trash from my youth) took root in the UK in a way that they didn't in the US. The diaspora and the music it brought changed the game and created brand-new, uniquely British genres like Jungle, House, Dub and, eventually, Grime. You can feel its impact in UK punk bands even. The Clash's "London Calling" album wouldn't exist without British reggae. Anyway, all that to say, I don't have a problem with a bunch of lads from Birmingham making reggae. Especially when it's this good. Does it have the raw edge of Marley's reggae? No. But, then again, comparing every reggae album to Marley seems a bit unfair. The songs are excellently composed, well-performed, and the recordings are damn near immaculate. The lyrics are thoughtful and thought-provoking. I wish there was about 60% less saxophone but I'll let it slide this time because it's just part of the genre. Overall, a pretty great album.

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Wed Oct 12 2022
4

Ub40 luisteren terwijl je aan het fietsen bent op een maandagochtend in de gietende regen geeft je toch nog een beetje een warm gevoel...life is good en het is maar regen.

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Fri Oct 14 2022
4

way more dub than i was expecting. i've no idea what it is about UB40 but i have a soft spot for them and this album almost validates my soft spot. the lack of credibility the more poppy cod reggae brings is easily counteracted by their debut dub album.

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Mon Nov 07 2022
4

Easily 3.75 stars. I had a copy of "Labour of Love" just like everybody else but admittedly have never heard any of UB40's non-cover song work. This came off as a pretty genuine dub record. If I had to pick a reggae band from Birmingham, Steel Pulse would still stand heads and shoulders above IMO, but this was pretty good

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Fri Nov 25 2022
4

This album didn't have any of the traditional Labour of Love UB40 tracks that I'm used to, but I enjoyed it. It's amazing that this is a British, and I love the origin of their band name, too.

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Wed Dec 21 2022
4

Pretty good. Very easy and enjoyable to listen to.

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Fri Dec 23 2022
4

8/10 nothing spectacular but that’s still a super fun reggae album

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Fri Dec 30 2022
4

Rating: 8/10 Best songs: Tyler, king

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Thu Jan 05 2023
4

Lekker zomers. geen hits, maar da's zeker niet erg

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Fri Jan 06 2023
4

Listening to this today on the original vinyl I bought second hand in about 82, complete with bonus 12" disc. What a fine album this is, the most successful bringing together of new wave and reggae, perhaps the reggae equivalent of what Gang of Four did for funk. This and its follow up are just great, but from then on its a tale of diminishing returns, awful covers, awfuler collabs, fallings out and ultimately two UB40s touring simultaneously. Never let 'I got You Babe' stop you listening to this. In their defence they went bust several times and covers are a way to get a hit quick and money in. As a Brummie, whose local has a plaque commemorating their first rehearsal, it hurts that they didn't go onto fulfil the promise of the first two albums, though what do I know, they sold 100 million records. Most of which are Red Red Wine or I Got You Babe.

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Thu Jan 19 2023
4

Some easy reggae. Burden of Shame is great. Madam Medusa is also a bop.

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Thu Feb 02 2023
4

I enjoyed this although I'm not sure I could pick out any song in particular as a favourite. Was all fairy samey but very easy to listen to in the background. Much less pop sounding and far more dubby than I expected, which was a nice surprise. Need more dub on this list. Will be listening again

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Thu Feb 02 2023
4

Quite funky and jazzy, better than I would have thought. Listenable.

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Sun Mar 05 2023
4

One of the great things about this list is hearing bands in before they became schlocky 80s ballads. Prime example here. This was miles better than Red Red Wine. More interesting instrumentally and lyrically.

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