Friday, January 31, 2014
Ali Campbell's version of UB40 featuring Astro and Mickey Virtue are a making a brand new track titled "Reggae Music" available as a free download on their website. According to the band the song is a mission statement in their quest to differentiate themselves from their former band mates in UB40 as the keeper of the band's reggae bonafides.
Fresh from the studio, Ali, Astro and Mickey have produced a brass-laden call out to their fans in the form of this brand new track ‘Reggae Music’. The track heralds the triumphant return of UB40 and responds to the recent dialogue between the trio and their former members, by letting the music do the talking. This is just a sign of things to come. How about we let the fans decide?
Trumpeter and vocalist Astro publicly quit the group during a radio interview late last year and immediately connected with Ali Campbell and Virtue. The trio released a statement a few weeks ago announcing "the three founding members (were) back together, performing and recording as UB40 once more" and launched a new UB40 website which included dates for shows across the world.
The five remaining members of UB40 issued a statement on their website and Facebook page last week which indicates they will be taking legal action against Campbell and his band mates.
While the UB40 civil war is waged online and in the courtrooms you can download the track via this link: http://ub40.org/freedownload
Give the song a listen and make up your own mind. What do you think?
Monday, January 27, 2014
Fans of 2-Tone have spoken longingly and lovingly of a BBC Arena television documentary titled "Rudies Come Back" that aired during the height of 2 Tone. Until recently the 30 minute documentary had been impossible to find, but a version has popped up on YouTube.
"Rudies Come Back" is hosted by music journalist Adrian Thrills. It was filmed in 1979 and originally aired on the BBC on March 3rd, 1980. It remains the holy grail of documentary footage of the The Specials, The Selecter and the Coventry music scene and captures the 2-Tone movement at its peak.
The Specials interview at 2 Tone HQ (which at the time was Jerry Dammers flat in Coventry) is pretty amazing. The band's chaotic live shows captured in the documentary suggests they would be a pretty talkative and fun bunch and some of the footage shows them dancing and skunking around to an old classic ska record. Later, Dammers reveals the true DIY/indie roots of the 2-Tone label and its seat of the pants approach when he nonchalantly spills the contents of an old desk and contracts, booking agreements and cassettes hit the floor. Dammers jokingly calls the desk drawer “our A&R department.”
Interestingly, once Thrills begins to interview the band, many of the members seem tongue tied. Everything seems to revolve Dammers, who was the de facto label head, band leader and A&R man. For a short time over the next couple of years, the band and label were huge. Walt Jabsco and the 2-Tone logo were everywhere you looked. Watching this now, it comes as no surprise that Dammers and the band struggled with the mounting pressure that overnight success had created.
Without further ado, I present "Rudies Come Back"....
Saturday, January 25, 2014
The five members of UB40 issued a statement on their website and Facebook page which seems to suggest they will be suing ex-singer Ali Campbell and former members Mickey Virtue and Astro who announced last week that they were also calling themselves UB40. The original members had kept silent about the announcement until yesterday, when they finally issued a statement of their own calling the move a "desperate attempt by our former band mates to hijack UB40's brand name, business and legacy."
A statement issued by five remaining founder members Brian Travers, Jimmy Brown, Earl Falconer, Norman Hassan and Ali's brother Robin Campbell said they were now consulting lawyers. It said:
Following the announcement by three former members of UB40 of their intention to ‘reform’ to record a new album and to perform live under the name UB40, the five founding members of UB40 wish to make the following statement:
“We are outraged at this latest desperate attempt by our former band mates to hijack UB40′s brand name, business and legacy. As UB40 we have worked continuously for the last 35 years touring the world with our live show and promoting our recorded albums.
“As our fans know, Ali Campbell left UB40 six years ago citing issues with the band’s management, and has since pursued a solo career. In that time, Ali has repeatedly attempted to discredit his brothers and former band mates, through the media and otherwise, but this latest attempt to confuse and manipulate UB40′s fans is, frankly, pathetic. We are disappointed that he feels it necessary to behave in this way and equally disappointed that Astro has joined with him.
“UB40’s five remaining founding members Robin Campbell, Brian Travers, Jimmy Brown, Earl Falconer and Norman Hassan will be touring extensively throughout 2014 and the UK in March and April. With this in mind, UB40 are delighted to announce that extra dates have been added, including a second night in Birmingham on April 19th, with tickets going on sale from Monday, 27th January.
For all genuine UB40 dates please go to our official website, Facebook and Twitter pages at www.UB40.co.uk , facebook.com/ub40official and @UB40official.
“As for Ali, Mickey and Astro, the matter is now in the hands of our lawyers”.
Trumpeter and vocalist Astro publicly quit the group during a radio interview late last year and immediately connected with Ali Campbell and Virtue. The trio released a statement last week announcing "the three founding members (were) back together, performing and recording as UB40 once more" and launched a new UB40 website which included dates for shows across the world.
The existence of two groups sharing the same name echoes other disputes over the years including a legal battle for the right to the name Bucks Fizz. In the court fight which three past members of the Eurovision-winning group brought against the sole original member who had retained the rights to the name, they were judged to have given up their rights by leaving the line-up.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Oh to live in London! Fred Perry recently hosted a Terry Hall Retrospective in conjunction with London Fashion week in early January. The invitation only event featured Hall backed by his band mates from The Specials -- Horace Panter on bass and John Bradbury on drums -- and also featured Ian Broudie (guitar) and Angie Pollock (piano) from The Lightning Seeds. Hall and Broudie collaborated on a number of sings in the early and mid-90's including the track "Sense" (which featured Hall on the song and the video) reaching No. 31 on the UK Singles Chart in 1992.
Hall's set included songs from The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Colourfield, as well as tracks from some of his favourite songwriters and artists (Talking Heads "Heaven") which demonstrated the depth and breadth of his musical interests, capabilities and inspirations.
Here is the set list:
One Of Those Things
Our Lips Are Sealed
A Message To You Rudy
Check out edited footage of the band's entire performance as well as full clips of "Sense" and "Our Lips Are Sealed" below.
Here is Hall's version of "Heaven" via a Facebook post:
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Former UB40 singer Ali Campbell has just announced the formation of a new version of UB40. According to a statement issued on his Facebook page, Campbell, Astro (who recently quit UB40) and keyboardist Mickey Virtue (who left with Campbell in 2008 to play in his band) have joined forces under the UB40 banner and are in the studio recording a new album. Here is the statement that was posted on a new UB40 website:
--- OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ---
THE THREE FOUNDING MEMBERS HAVE REFORMED AND REUNITED TO BRING YOU THE TRUE SOUND OF UB40. ALI, ASTRO AND MICKEY ARE CURRENTLY IN THE STUDIO WORKING ON A NEW ALBUM.... MORE INFO COMING SOON
Here is footage of Campbell, Virtue and Astro from their gig together this past December:
While the news is not surprising, given that Astro joined Campbell's band for a show last year following an announcement that he had quit the band, what is surprising is that the three former members are planning to call themselves UB40. Clearly, the band featuring Campbell's brother Robin, drummer Jim Brown, saxophonist Brian Travers, bassist Earl Falconer and percussionist Norman Hassan retain the rights to the name. UB40 have not issued a statement yet, but fans from both sides of the UB40 divide have weighed in with their thoughts about the move on each band's social media outlets. The bottom line is that a once proud band with a great back catalog of music has been reduced and diminished by never ending drama. UB40 is dead. Long live UB40!
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Someone at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival must really like ska! For the fourth year out of the last five, a 2-Tone era ska band will be part of the prestigious line-up.
In 2010 it was The Specials, who were touring the U.S. for the first time since the early 1980's. In 2012, Madness brought their nutty sounds to the desert festival, and last year it was The Selecter who wowed the crowd with a blazing mid-afternoon set. This year Buster Bloodvessel and Bad Manners will make an appearance on Sunday April 13th and Sunday April 20th. The band last toured the U.S. in 2011 and it remains to be seen if they will add more North American tour dates around their appearances.
It also remains unclear which band members will accompany Buster to the U.S. Over the last 20 years or so, he has toured with shifting group of back-up musicians and during the the band's 2011 U.S. tour, recruited mostly young U.S.-based ska musicians to back him. Buster appears to have a band of young UK-based musicians backing him now and they performed at the Islington Academy in London this past December. Watch the band perform a slew of their hits including "Lorraine," "Special Brew," "Lip Up Fatty," and "This Is Ska/My Girl Lollipop."
Though unclear, it is possible the Coachella shows could serve as a reunion of the original band that formed at in 1976 at Woodbery Down Comprehensive in London. In December 2012, founding members of the band met for the first time in decades. The meeting was successful and this past summer seven of the original nine members met again. The 'Bad Manners Originals' who attended the reunion were; Andy Marson (alto sax), Paul Hyman (trumpet), Alan Sayag (harmonicas), Chris Kane (tenor sax), David Farren (bass), Martin Stewart (keyboards) and Brian Tuitt (drums).
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Happy 2014 to all MOTB blog readers!
I'm excited to announce that the Rude Boy George digital EP "Take One" is finally out! The band concept was hatched a year ago during a dinner I had with Bigger Thomas lead singer Roger Apollon Jr. and Duff Guide To Ska blogger and former Moon Records honcho Stephen Shafer before we saw a Morrissey show in Brooklyn, New York. We wanted to combine our love of ska and reggae with 80's new wave. Roger coined the band name (the other option was Flock Of Scooters!) and we were off and running.
We recruited Across The Aisle singer Megg Howe, The Toasters piano man Dave Barry and Bigger Thomas members Spencer Katzman (guitar) and James Cooper (drums/percussion) and started rehearsing as much as possible. We shared a few early rehearsal recordings with ex-English Beat bassist and LA-based producer Wayne Lothian who loved what he heard. Before we knew it, we had recorded songs with Wayne at Bill Laswell's studio in West Orange, New Jersey. Wayne shared the tracks with English Beat toaster Antonee First Class who added his vocal talents on our reggae version of The Romantic's "Talking In Your Sleep" and we knew we had something special. Below is the fruit of our labor for your listening pleasure.
Truth be told, the twin pillars of 2-Tone ska and 80's new wave music sustained me through much of a challenging youth during the 1980's. 2-Tone revealed harsh economic, social and racial injustices with a power and a fury that was undeniable but also danceable. It forever influenced my world view and moved me to learn an instrument and start a band that I've played in for 25 years. Though I tend to be a religious secularist, I've worshipped at the Church of 2-Tone for most of my life.
While new wave retained the vigor and irreverence of 70's punk music that had fueled 2-Tone, it incorporated style and art in a way that opened my world to ideas of love, friendship, sex and fashion and helped give form to my own burgeoning identity. I sought refuge in new wave's incredible diversity of nervy pop (XTC), synth pop (Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Human League), new wave songwriters (Elvis Costello), pop bands (Squeeze, INXS), pop-reggae (The Police) and more mainstream rockers (Billy Idol, The Cars). Here in the U.S. 2-Tone was lumped in with new wave, so in many ways, despite their completely different musical world views they are inextricably linked in my musical consciousness. A yin and yang that forever form the soundtrack of my life.
So if you like the idea of some of your favorite 80's new wave songs wrapped in a loving ska and reggae embrace, we hope you will consider giving our versions a spin. Many thanks!