UB40 tonight. A bunch of friends, all from the same neighborhood in Birmingham (UK), who got together and became one of the most successful Pop/Reggae outfits of the 1980s.
With over 50 singles in the charts and some 18 albums, nominated for Grammys and Brit Awards, UB40 have sold over 70 million records since they got together in 1978. And what’s more, their success hasn’t been relegated to just the UK, they’ve been highly successful throughout much of the world and are still together (which several personnel changes).
This session – their second of two for John Peel, comes around the time of the release of their 3rd album, UB44 which made it to number 4 on the UK lp charts. This would come ahead of their groundbreaking Labour Of Love album from 1983, which was their breakthrough album in the U.S.
Their initial breakthrough was via Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders who saw them at a club in 1979. Impressed, she gave the band an opportunity to be opening act on their upcoming tour. It was that tour and the exposure which established them with audiences and the press, who heaped much praise on their live act as well as their recordings.
Going through changes over the years, and a legal battle over use of the name by ex-singer/founder Ali Campbell, UB40 have still kept it all together, maintaining the proud claim they are one of the most commercially successful Reggae acts in terms of album sales and touring. With a career that is heading into its fourth decade, there appears to be no let-up in sight.
It’s highly unlikely you’ve never heard UB40 before. They’ve been a staple in the diet of most FM stations – they were a heavy favorite of MTV and several of their songs have wound up in feature films over the years. But in the odd even you haven’t, here is a good place to start and to get you exploring more. Great band. Play loud.