UB40Â formed in 1978 inÂ Birmingham, England. Since then, the band has had more than 50 singles in theÂ UK Singles Chart, and has also achieved huge international success. The band has been nominated for theÂ Grammy Award for Best Reggae AlbumÂ four times, and in 1984, were nominated for theÂ Brit AwardÂ for Best British Group.Â One of the world’sÂ best-selling music artists, UB40 have sold over 70 million records with theirÂ hit singlesÂ including their debut “Food for Thought” and twoÂ U.S. Billboard Hot 100Â number ones with “Red Red Wine” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love“. Both of these also topped theÂ UK Singles Chart, as did the band’s version of “I Got You Babe”.
On 2nd September, 2013, UB40 will release their new album ‘Getting Over The Storm’, the reggae stars’ 20th studio album,Â and their first since 2010’s ‘Labour of Love IV’.Â Like many of UB40’s previous albums, the group’s original material is complimented by a smattering of cover versions andÂ interpretations. Interestingly, amongst the five original UB40 songs, the covers recorded for ‘Getting Over The Storm’ wereÂ originally written and/or recorded by country music artists.Â Knowing that country music is loved by Caribbean audiences, UB40’s sax player Brian Travers said, “We’ve all spent a lot ofÂ time in Jamaica, and country music is very much part of the fabric. It’s an honest music, just like reggae. The two genresÂ really sit together well.”
The genesis for the country covers dates back to 1990, when UB40 were recording the UK #6 single ‘I’ll Be Your BabyÂ Tonight’ with their friend, the late Robert Palmer. Robin Campbell said, “Robert really wanted to record the Randy TravisÂ song called ‘On The Other Hand’, so we recorded it together. However, we were unable to reach an agreement withÂ Robert’s estate for use of his vocal on the track, so the version you hear on the album now features Duncan (Campbell)Â singing instead. Then the idea of covering some other country songs really intrigued us, so we started trawling through ourÂ favourite country albums and settled on songs such as George Jones’ ‘Getting Over The Storm’, Jim Reeves’ ‘He’ll Have ToÂ Go’, Willie Nelson’ ‘Blues Eyes Crying In The Rain’ and Vince Gill’s ‘If You Ever Have Forever In Mind’.”Â “It’s not a country album, though.” states Robin. “It’s a UB40 album. It’s a reggae album. We’ve just covered some countryÂ tunes.”
As with all of UB40’s albums since 2005’s ‘Who You Fighting For’, all of the tracks were cut live in the studio. RobinÂ Campbell: “We don’t use studios like we used to. It’s like a rehearsal set-up, where we sit in a circle and play together. ItÂ helps get the vibe right.”Â When it came to overdubs, the band used top pedal steel guitar player Melvin Duffy, whose understanding of countryÂ music helped to bring the album to life. Brian Travers explains, “We gave Melvin free reign to play whatever he liked, andÂ he did an incredible job. He’s a hugely intuitive musician.”
Formed in 1978, UB40’s have often been associated with politically charged lyrics, but that’s not the case with the lyricalÂ themes found on ‘Getting Over The Storm’, with politics of the heart more to the fore. However, the album’s most politicalÂ song is ‘How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?’, the 1929 Great Depression song written by Blind Alfred Reed,Â and later popularised by Ry Cooder on his self-titled 1970 album. “We reworked the lyrics to update them a bit,” explainsÂ Robin “But that’s the only political lyric on the album. The rest are ‘somebody-done-somebody-wrong’ songs. We all knowÂ someone who’s had their heart broken.”
UB40’s lead singer Duncan Campbell, singing on his second full album with UB40 since replacing his brother Ali Campbell inÂ 2008, comes into his own on ‘Getting Over The Storm’. Brian is quick to pay tribute to his bandmate, “Duncan’s been aÂ singer all his life, but it’s been a really steep learning curve for him coming into the band and becoming a recording arti Â His voice and his style of singing is really suited to the songs on ‘Getting Over The Storm’. He’s done a great job.”