Few bands can boast a discography quite as long and impressive as reggae-pop group UB40, who have just released their 18th studio album, Getting Over the Storm. What’s also impressive is that this is their second record since original vocalist Ali Campbell left the band after 30 years in 2008. Luckily they had a handy replacement in Ali’s brother Duncan Campbell, who has done a wonderful job.
The band continues to produce upbeat and easy to listen to songs even after so many years which is certainly an achievement in itself, even if most of them are covers.
The album opens with a reggae spin on Greg Allman’s Midnight Rider, setting the tone for a toe-tapping, feel-good record. One of the better tracks on the album, the song features some synth and electronic beats which, complete with Campbell’s smooth voice, offer a modern take on a classic song.
The title track Getting Over the Storm is another country cover, this time from the legendary George Jones. A positive country-reggae-pop track, this is another strong take on the original. The country aspects shine through strongly in this one with guitars and country music vocals as Campbell shows some range.
The first of five UB40 original tracks on the album Blue Bilet Doux comes up next. This is a promising song from the band – a slower, smooth track showcasing Campbell’s vocals over the band’s famous easy going, reggae-saxophone rhythm.
The single Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain is solid, offering a catchy rhythm with mournful and nostalgic lyrics (“Now my hair has turned to silver/All my life I’ve loved in vain”) contrasted against a chirpy beat.
The transition from one song to the next goes almost unnoticed as they all consist of the signature reggae beats and saxophone notes. Many of the songs sound alike with no real highlight or lowlight standing out above the rest. In a classic case of ‘don’t fix what’s not broken’, UB40 have produced another album that sounds exactly like what we’ve come to expect from them. The album is solid but quite safe and standard from the band, as one might expect for a group who’ve been around since the ‘70s. The band has adopted more of a country sound in some aspects but continue to exercise their traditional reggae pop approach.
The album ends with I Didn’t Know, another solid track but there are only so many ways to say that each song has the same reggae-pop beat, this song being no exception. The song is decent but a little lack lustre for an album finale and doesn’t really leave the listener hanging for more.
Getting Over the Storm is a solid and easily digestible collection of songs which can be listened to with minimal complaint but is nothing to get excited about. Die-hard fans will be pleased that UB40 continue to produce quality music, though this album will probably not go down as one of their better efforts. The achievement of UB40 to release so many albums and remain successful for so many years should be celebrated but this album does them no favours in terms of appealing to a new fan base.