UB40 IN THE 1980S
by Mark Nobes, chief editor
By the end of 1980 they had become the UK's biggest reggae band, with their debut album, (the aptly-titled Signing Off which was recorded in a bedsit) reaching #2. It spent a total of 72 weeks in the album charts, and the band have the Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde to thank for their breakthrough - she spotted them performing in a pub and asked them to become a support act.
One In Ten was the second single from the band's second studio album Present Arms and reached #7 in the UK. It became the band's fifth consecutive Top 20 hit single.
Debut album Signing Off
The lyrics are about drinking to forget a lost love - "Red red wine, goes to my head, makes me forget that I still need her so" - and the song was often played as one of the last tunes at discos and nightclubs during the 80s.
1980 Signing Off #2 Platinum
1981 Present Arms #2 Platinum
1982 UB44 #4 Gold
1983 Labour Of Love #1 2x Platinum
1984 Geffery Morgan #3 Silver
1985 Baggariddim #14 Gold
1986 Rat In The Kitchen #8 Gold
1988 UB40 #12 Gold
1989 Labour Of Love II #3 3x Platinum
1993 Promises And Lies #3 3x Platinum
1997 Guns In The Ghetto #7 Silver
1998 Labour Of Love III #8 Gold
2001 Cover Up #29
2003 Homegrown #49
2005 Who You Fighting For? #20
2008 TwentyFourSeven #81
2010 Labour Of Love IV #24
2013 Getting Over The Storm #29 Silver
2018 A Real Labour of Love #2
2019 For The Many #29
Released in September 1983, UB40's fourth studio album topped the UK album charts and eventually achieved 2x Platinum. Labour Of Love II (1989) faired even better, achieving 3x Platinum.
This was the band's first album of covers and as well as the aforementioned Red Red Wine, also included the singles Cherry Oh Baby (Eric Donaldson), Many Rivers To Cross (Jimmy Cliff) and Please Don't Make Me Cry (Winston Tucker).
UB40 released one studio album per year during the 80s (apart from 1987), and "Don't Break My Heart" (1985) featured on their sixth studio album Baggariddim. Featuring a sophisticated, laid-back groove, the song was the second and last single to be lifted from the album and reached #3 in the UK.
Baggariddim wasn't a totally fresh UB40 album as the first ten tracks were reinvented versions of songs from the previous two albums, Labour Of Love and Geffery Morgan. The album reached #14 in the UK album charts, but unlike the previous two albums it did not chart in the U.S.
Sing Our Own Song (1986) was the lead single from UB40's seventh studio album Rat In The Kitchen, reaching #5 in the UK.
Like the first Labour Of Love album, the follow-up also features purely cover versions, and amongst the 14 tracks were Homely Girl (originally a hit for the Chi-Lites in 1974), Here I Am Come And Take Me (a 1973 song by Al Green) and Kingston Town (a 1970 song by Lord Creator).
This was UB40's ninth studio album release overall and reached No.3 (achieving 3x Platinum) making this the biggest-selling album of the 80s for the band.
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