UB40 - Unplugged (Greatest Hits)

November 18th 2016
Album Review

****

Best of with an added twist!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas as the ‘best of’ style albums are all over the television, one to buy the in laws when they have enough soap sets from boots. The first coming  our way to review this year is UB40 ‘Unplugged (Greatest Hits)’, this is the UB40 with Ali, Astro and Mickey as with a number of slightly older bands there is more than one touring version as the members went their separate ways. I am never sure about ‘best of’s’ at any time as the fans will probably already have the hits and most of these acts have released a best of before anyway. But I do like it when they offer something different as UB40 may have done here with the ‘Unplugged’ disc.

Just to be different  am going to cover disc 2 which is the ‘Greatest Hits’ one first, this is standard versions of their most well known tunes over their long career, they first released a record all the way back in 1980, and in one form or another have been putting out songs ever since. Without looking to the ins and outs of it here, this latest one being with the original members of lead singer Ali Campbell rather than the rivals his brother Robin tours and records under.

What struck me is it is easy to forget just how many hits they have amassed over the years from disc opener ‘Red, Red Wine’ to the iconic ‘Rat in my Kitchen’ they really did take Reggae to the mainstream. They also did this with some notable musicians such as the duets with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders ‘I got you Babe’ and ‘Breakfast in Bed’. The songs are well known and easy to listen to, they have maintained their longevity of being popular without really slipping into being cheesy.

The unplugged disc is where to me they offer something new rather than just another collection of singles and this does not disappoint. The Reggae genre perfectly suits the laid back feel of an acoustic album and the stripped back sound gives it a mellow vibe. Pato Banton returns for the acoustic version of the 1999 hit ‘Baby come Back’ and the version of ‘Purple Rain’ gives it a very different sound, not sure it would appeal to all Prince fans but is an interesting take on a modern classic.

Along with Pato Banton, there is another guest in ‘I got you Babe’, featuring Ali’s twenty two year old daughter Kaya Campbell so a nice family affair. I must admit to be a cynic when I first put this one but it is great to hear their tune again and especially the acoustic versions where you get a different side to the band. I have been talking about Christmas presents and should this be unwrapped this would be the one for Boxing Day while chilling out and nursing the feelings of too much mulled '(Red, Red) Wine'.

Review by Jon Cooper 

​Check Out! a live performance of 'Red, Red Wine (Unplugged)' Below...

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