Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Techno From Unexpected Faces: UB40

Taking their name from a United Kingdom unemployment form UB40 were discovered by Chrissie Hynde who invited the politically minded reggae group to open for The Pretenders. Things really took off for the group in 1983 with the release their covers album Labour Of Love that featured their massively popular version of Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine" giving the band a formula for success. They would go on to have hit covers of "The Way You Do the Things You Do", "I Got You Babe" and "Kingston Town" before having one of the biggest hits of their career in 1993 covering Elvis Presley's "(I Can't Help) Falling in Love With You" for the Sliver soundtrack. The song reached number one in seven countries including the UK and the US but the single was backed with a song that revealed a more musically daring side to the group. While the instrumental “Jungle Love” has been referred to as “an oddball "dub" mash up” it actually is an early drum ’n’ bass track that boldly wears it’s jungle influence down to the pitched up mc vocal sample. 808 State had released a “vs.” remix of the band‘s 1981 single “One In Ten” just the year before and UB40’s sound at the time heavily incorporated electronics so it was not a totally unanticipated move but discarding vocals and traditional songwriting to throw themselves into the deep end of the then emerging jungle scene is quite an unexpected move from a group that so often plays things safe. Ultimately the track didn’t quite hold up at the time and in the years that have passed it sounds really quite confused as if they attempted to distill an entire genre into a single track. However they do get points for trying:

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