Thursday, 20 June 2019

UB40 - Cover Up (2001)

The day I broke the law....


Released on 22 November 2001

Running time 01:00:14

This is a much longer UB40 album than people had been used to thus far. CDs were allowing for over an hour's worth of music and many groups were taking advantage of this. Sure it gave value for money but when most of the songs were in the same mould, as on this album, maybe forty minutes is preferable to an hour. Four years after the acceptable but musically unadventurous Guns In The Ghetto album, UB40 were back, with an album based round contemporary, digital ragga rhythms, with not an authentic rootsy one-drop drum beat within earshot. It leads to a somewhat characterless, amorphous sounding album  that is a long, long way from those crucial reggae sounds of twenty years earlier. Yes, the group are attempting to develop in line with current ragga sounds, as opposed to playing late seventies/early eighties roots stuff but while it is perfectly listenable, it just passes me by, aurally, I have to admit. That said, repeat listenings find me enjoying it more with each one.


1. Rudie
2. Sparkle Of My Eyes
3. Really
4. The Day I Broke The law
5. Let Me Know
6. Cover Up
7. Walk On Me Land
8. Something More Than This
9. Everytime
10. I'm On The Up
11. Look At Me
12. Since I Met You Lady
13. Walked In The Rain
14. Write Off The Debt                              

Rudie is a quirky, appealing mix of ragga beats, guitar skanking and dubby bass, particularly near the end. Sparkle Of My Eyes is a gentle, laid-back romantic groove. As with so many UB40 tracks, it features an excellent dubby bit at the end. Really uses programmed drums, as do a lot of the tracks which is annoying, for me anyway. It has a nice ambience to it, though. The Day I Broke The Law features that manufactured beat again, but also a sad, mournful Ali Campbell vocal. It is one of the album's best offerings. Let Me Know ploughs the same relaxing furrow.

Cover Up features some nice brass. Walk On Me Land also has nice bass and horn parts and a dubby vibe to it. It has the album's best bass line. Something More Than This is a ragga-ish, faster paced offering, with appropriate toasting lyrics and some spacey, Groove Armada-esque keyboard sound effects. Everytime is quite a bouncy, keyboard-driven number.

I'm On The Up has a rolling, catchy dance-ish rhythm. Look At Me is a pleasant enough, but otherwise unremarkable number. Since I Met You Lady features dancehall vocalist Lady Saw and has a deep, bassy vibrancy to it and raises the album out of its sleepy torpor. Walked In The Rain is a bit more rootsy and while it is still bassily enjoyable, it just doesn't stick in the mind much. It also has an annoying crackling bit in the backing that makes you think something is wrong with your speakers. Write off The Debt is a politically-motivated Buju Banton-influenced rap to end on a different note.

This is certainly not a bad album, and the sound quality is improved from the previous "loudness"-affected album but the music on the album is far too homogenous on the whole. Not too much of it stays with you after the album has finished. On the other hand, though, the hour I have just spent listening to it was a fulfilling one. I listened to it again and it revealed hidden depths. So, it is a sort of half and half album. It would be more effective as a forty minute album, though.


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