UB40 will release their 20th studio album Getting Over The Storm, on 6th September. It is the band’s first album since 2010’s Labour of Love IV.
UB40’s original material is complimented by cover versions and interpretations, all originally written and/or recorded by country music artists.
Sax player Brian Travers said, “We’ve all spent a lot of time in Jamaica, and country music is very much part of the fabric. It’s an honest music, just like reggae. The two genres really sit together well.”
UB40’s MC Astro adds, “In the Caribbean, there are very few households that do not own a Jim Reeves album. I certainly had them in my house, as did all my West Indian friends when I was growing-up. When you’d go their houses you’d always see Jim Reeves staring back at you from the Blue Spot Gramophone! Country music and Jamaica are so finely entwined.”
The genesis for the country covers dates back to 1990, when UB40 were recording the UK #6 single ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ with the late Robert Palmer.
Robin Campbell explained, “Robert really wanted to record the Randy Travis song called ‘On The Other Hand’, so we recorded it together. However, we were unable to reach an agreement with Robert’s estate for use of his vocal on the track, so the version you hear on the album now features Duncan (Campbell) singing instead. Then the idea of covering some other country songs really intrigued us, so we started trawling through our favourite country albums and settled on songs such as George Jones’ ‘Getting Over The Storm’, Jim Reeves’ ‘He’ll Have To Go’, Willie Nelson’ ‘Blues Eyes Crying In The Rain’ and Vince Gill’s ‘If You Ever Have Forever In Mind’.”
“It’s not a country album, though.” states Robin. “It’s a UB40 album. It’s a reggae album. We’ve just covered some country tunes.”
The album’s most political song is ‘How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?’, the 1929 Great Depression song written by Blind Alfred Reed, and later popularised by Ry Cooder on his self-titled 1970 album.
“We reworked the lyrics to update them a bit,” explains Robin Campbell “But that’s the only political lyric on the album. The rest are ‘somebody-done-somebody-wrong’ songs. We all know someone who’s had their heart broken.”
UB40’s lead singer Duncan Campbell, is singing on his second full album with UB40 since replacing his brother Ali Campbell in 2008.