UB40's official deluxe release of Twentyfourseven following the promotional preview freebie give away in The Mail on Sunday last month is a superb barrage of 17 reggae anthems, which includes collaborations with Maxi and Marvin Priest, and urban artists 1 Love and Rasa Don of Arrested Development and Hunterz.
UB40 are like a fine wine they get better and better with age and 30 years of fermentation has produced a marvelous vintage, an album with a colourful, intoxicating and fresh bouquet which kicks and punches hard.
The final album to feature the original line up with lead singer Ali Campbell and keyboard player Michael Virtue carries on from where they left off on their last album `Who You Fighting For', the bands political and social conscience aired with anti war sentiment is rife and relentless here.
But make no mistake this album delivers overwhelmingly musically, and will appeal to all music lovers not just the dedicated worldwide legion of UB40's fans, self proclaimed as `loonies', who despite the changes in personnel over the last few months have stood firmly by the most successful reggae act of all time. The free promo may have brought in a new audience who wish to get hold of the official release complete with all the new collaborations. A combination of bouncy catchy reggae songs, with a blend of dub and skank entwined with great lyrics, superb melodies and harmonies and the bands saxophonist Brian Travers' brass and strings arrangements that hit all the right buttons.
Like WYFF the political message could not be clearer, with the tracks `End of War', `Securing the Peace', `The Road', `Here We Go Again' and `Instant Radical Change of Perception'.
`End of War' calls for a withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan citing the conflict as foolish "how long can we sustain" and reached stalemate. The question of intention of this `war on terror' is posed again, with heavy casualties on both sides; the loss of innocent life is too high a price for so called freedom and liberation which in reality is just not happening.
The track `Oh America' is more blatant, an extended version of the promo issue and one of several collaborations on the album features 1 LOVE And Rasa Don Of Arrested Development and sung by the bands introvert bass guitarist Earl Falconer in a raga freestyle rant with an enhanced haunting vocal, the band accuse the US of arrogance, foolishness, and racism on subjects like global warming and the climate, Guantanamo, floods of New Orleans, foreign policy and their own judicial system, hinting at the continuing appalling situation of cases like Gary Tyler, the track goes further by insulting the stars and stripes. Highlighting a discrepancy in the American Constitution where race is still one of the big problems facing America. But the band is quick to point out that their frustration and anger is not leveled at ordinary Americans or their great country and flag, where UB40 have enjoyed huge popularity for decades, (something not many British artists can boast,) but firmly at the US political establishment and its corrupt leaders.
Falconer ends the track with a plea from the heart manifested in a burst of toasting which appeals to every decent American holding a vote for the nearing election to "stand up firm mi say stand up strong" and do the decent thing motivating a change of course for the Superpower. The real possibility of a black Democratic President holds hope for entire mankind not just Americans. The sentiment being there is real hope for all Americans to rid themselves of this arrogant and evil regime which has clearly encouraged more hatred towards America and given a recruiting surge for terrorists. The song will appeal to the growing anti war feeling amongst Americans particularly with those who have loved ones who have died or are still in combat.
The plight of Gary Tyler is revisited in `Rainbow Nation' 30 years on from their original protest on their first album Signing Off, of the black American imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, sentenced by a racist judge and jury. A sense of hopelessness at this case in particular, where there was so much hope and expectation for justice, yet nothing has changed and an innocent man is still imprisoned.
Dance until the Morning Light (the double a-sided single) with `Lost and Found' features a clever sample taken from the late Desmond Dekker and the Aces' classic sixties ska hit 'Israelites' featuring Maxi Priest on vocals with rapper 'Truth'.
There is also a great version of Bob Marley's `I Shot the Sheriff' and the Beatles classic `I'll Be Back'
All in all a great album and a great listen....enjoy!
Copyright: Fazeley Productions Ltd