Shoestring Music Productions (label)
08 February 2019 (released)
11 December 2018
Reggae outfit UB40 will drop a new album, their nineteenth studio album, February 8, 2019. Called For The Many, the title was borrowed from the slogan of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, and features appearances by Gilly G and Kabaka Pyramid.
Formed in 1978, the band got their name by combining the UB from the UK government’s Unemployment Benefit with 40, the number of the form. In 1980, they released Signing Off, their first album, followed b numerous albums and international hits. Things fell apart in 2008: vocalist Ali Campbell dropped out to go solo, followed shortly after by the exits of Astro, and Mickey Virtue. Later, Virtue and Campbell hooked up in a new version of UB40, which was confusing because now there were two UB40’s.
But fear not, because For The Many is the real deal, featuring Robin Campbell (vocals, guitar), Brian Travers (sax/keyboards), Jimmy Brown (drums), Earl Falconer (bass, keyboards, vocals), and Norman Hassan (percussion, vocals), as well as Duncan Campbell (vocals), Martin Meredith (sax), Laurence Parry (trumpet), and Tony Mullings (keyboards).
Comprising 10-tracks, For The Many opens with “The Keeper,” a smooth reggae number with hints of R&B running through it. A deep, round bass line and crisp sidestick propel the rhythm, as the horns project gleaming accents. Campbell’s rich voice infuses the tune with mellow tones.
Highlights on the album include “Broken Man,” featuring Kabaka Pyramid. Skiffing guitars ride a tight one drop beat. Potently braying horns add depth and dimension that contrast well with psychedelic flavors from the keyboards.
Pyramid’s delicious Jamaican inflection gives the lyrics palpable reggae texture. “Moonlight Lover,” featuring Gilly G, emanates tropical reggae flavors that pervade the harmonics with a Bahamian essence. The vocal harmonies on this track deliver a tantalizing quixotic tang.
“You Haven’t Called” extends the colors of the horns over a fairly austere groove driven by a muscular bass line. The velvety vocals and blooming resonance of this song prove to be alluring.
The closing track, “All We Do Is Cry,” features a skintight reggae beat with booping sound effects, along with the talents of urban musician Hunterz. Unfortunately the popping bubble splashes infuse the tune with a teeny bop feel that doesn’t work.
With For The Many, UB40 delivers a better than average album, one that’s definitely worth listening to. A few of the tracks, like “Whatever Happened to UB40” and “Bulldozer” miss the mark because of sonic chaos.