Customer Review

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete UB40 - Great value but inferior sound quality, 18 Jun 2006
This review is from: The Best Of UB40, Volumes 1 & 2 [2CD] (Audio CD)
UB40 have been a constant within the music scene for almost 3 decades by now. The first 15 years they were constant hit makers with consistent album sales. It seems that after that period, all of a sudden their time as a big selling artist was up as if the public had had enough.

These 2 CDs cover that period in a thorough manner. Basically, the CDs are simply re-issues of their Best of collections, volume 1 & 2, put into a single packaging. Two songs, Swing Low and Kiss & Say Goodbye are tacked at the end of volume 2; both songs would have been hits had UB40 still retained the popular appeal. Every UB40 Top 20 hit in the UK is here, i.e. until 1995, plus a few other notable singles (excluding Swing Low, UB40 have only had two other minor Top 20 hits since then). The only omission I notice is The Way You Do the Things You Do. It is one of their best known songs in the US but did not, however, even manage for some reason to crack the Top 40 in the UK, making the omission understandable. By excluding that period the listener also is spared the awful cover of Light My Fire included on their Very Best of 1980-2000 collection.

Their music has aged very well and many songs are becoming standard classics, even ones that were standards in other versions. In short, if you like UB40, even casually, this is the set to buy.

I am, still, deducting a star from this great set. It seems that despite being released in 2005, i.e. this combined version of the two volumes, the sound has not been re-mastered in accordance to current standards. My old Volume 1 CD has the exact same sound quality as the version on the volume 1 disk in this set.

I own the US version of the Very Best of 1980-2000 collection and took a few comparison samples. It was unfavourable for this version. On Here I Am the bass, which is prominent in the mix, is much more vibrant and the whole sound staging has audibly more depth on the US version, whilst on Kingston Town the synthesizers are clearer and the slight echo in the singing channel more natural, giving the song more of its special aura. These songs and other newer tracks have an added edge on the US version over the Best of Vol. 1&2 which is in a way analogous to the difference of a brand new LP verses a worn one.

On older tracks the difference is more audible, since the recording technology during the later period is more similar to what is used today. 1 in 10 has a significantly lower and more muddled sound and their first single, Food For Thought, is so vastly different sonic wise it is as if a blanket has been put over the speakers on the Best of Vol. 1&2 version (incidentally, the Left-Right channelling is reverse on the Food For Thought mixes).

Why the songs were not updated sound wise is beyond me, especially in light of the fact that many of the songs obviously have been re-mastered for at least another compilation. Most people won't notice the difference though and I admittedly seldom listen so closely that it matters. This is, however, a drawback.

To summarize, this is an immaculate collection of the hits of UB40 but suffers somewhat from the sound quality. In whole, I recommend this set.
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