On 2nd September, 2013, UB40 will release their new album 'Getting Over The Storm', the reggae stars' 20th studio album, and their first since 2010's 'Labour of Love IV'.
Like many of UB40's previous albums, the group's original material is complimented by a smattering of cover versions and interpretations. Interestingly, amongst the five original UB40 songs, the covers recorded for 'Getting Over The Storm' were originally written and/or recorded by country music artists.
Knowing that country music is loved by Caribbean audiences, UB40's 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 their friend, the late Robert Palmer. Robin Campbell said, "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."
As with all of UB40's albums since 2005's 'Who You Fighting For', all of the tracks were cut live in the studio. Robin Campbell: "We don't use studios like we used to. It's like a rehearsal set-up, where we sit in a circle and play together. It helps get the vibe right."
When it came to overdubs, the band used top pedal steel guitar player Melvin Duffy, whose understanding of country music helped to bring the album to life. Brian Travers explains, "We gave Melvin free reign to play whatever he liked, and he did an incredible job. He's a hugely intuitive musician."
Formed in 1978, UB40's have often been associated with politically charged lyrics, but that's not the case with the lyrical themes found on 'Getting Over The Storm', with politics of the heart more to the fore. However, 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 "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, singing on his second full album with UB40 since replacing his brother Ali Campbell in 2008, comes into his own on 'Getting Over The Storm'. Brian is quick to pay tribute to his bandmate, "Duncan's been a singer all his life, but it's been a really steep learning curve for him coming into the band and becoming a recording artist. His voice and his style of singing is really suited to the songs on 'Getting Over The Storm'. He's done a great job."
The album will be available to pre order from Amazon.co.uk and iTunes from Monday, 8th July. All fans pre-ordering the album from iTunes will receive a download of the single 'Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain' as an 'instant grat' purchase.
There is also a limited edition version of the album available. Limited to just 200 copies, the album will include a 12x12 poster signed by the band.
One of the most successful reggae groups of all time, with over forty UK Top 40 hit singles and sales of 80million records, UB40 will play UK tour dates in September to support the release of 'Getting Over The Storm'.
The tour dates are as follows:
13th September - Sky Dome Arena, Coventry
16th September - Planet Ice Arena, Peterborough
18 September - Planet Ice Arena, Ryde, Isle of Wight
20th September - Planet Ice Arena, Cardiff