This originally ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1994.
"Signing Off," originally released in 1980, was UB40's debut. Fourteen years later,
this critically-acclaimed disc is finally being issued in the United States for the first time.
In all honesty, I've never really given a fair listen to UB40, but have respected
them for giving Jamaican music international exposure. After a few listens, though, it's
obvious that this octet from Birmingham England is a talented and legitimate reggae
As the press release from Virgin Records stated, "from the moment of its release in
1980, 'Signing Off" marked the emergence of a new, innovative force in reggae and pop.
With its eye-catching front cover - a photo of the British Government's notorious UB40
unemployment form, from which the band took its name - [the songs on 'Signing Off'] still
resonate with a power and prescience 14 years after their creation."
The 13 tracks do stand the test of time, delivering over one hour of smooth,
flowing reggae with social topics ranging from racial injustice to a Martin Luther King
tribute. The production is clean and the sound is seductive, thanks in large part to
outstanding sax work by Brian Travis and Ali Campbell's always laid back vocals.
UB40 is still riding the success of its latest best-seller, "Promises and Lies," yet
with the release of this auspicious debut it's obvious to see the soulful roots of one of
today's most popular bands.
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