Oct 21, 2014
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Posts tagged: UB40

Impressions: Sounds of Reggae at the Barclays Center


Photos by Jason Zucker—

Beres Hammond at Barclays Center

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Throwback Thursdays: UB40 “If It Happens Again”

Words by Martei Korley

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Hahahaha, UB40??? You mean the guys who did “Red Red Wine”? Yes, absolutely! UB40 was literally the biggest pop group in Europe in the ’80s. VH1 will tell ya: They had more top ten hits than any other group on the European charts. In Thatcher-era England, UB40, their name coined from the form used in the UK to apply for unemployment benefits, became the first major reggae outfit of mixed heritage. The ethnic makeup of the band is diverse, with musicians of English, Scottish, Irish, Yemeni and Jamaican parentage… Fronted by Englishman Ali Campbell with his brother Robin singing harmonies, the band transitioned from UK dub of the lighter persuasion towards a more forward Jamaican sound. Everybody was very impressed with Sly and Robbie in the early ’80s, and this was exactly the time period in which UK reggae flourished. British bands were actually producing songs which had relevance in Jamaica and similarly impressed home audiences. “If It Happens Again” is a prime example of that synergy. When you couple ambitious horn arrangement and a riddim section with a dancehall penchant, the result is something like this now 27-year-old tune. The surreal video, replete with some crazy animation, kids in rubber masks with the band members’ faces—AND Linn drums!—just sews it all up.

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Toppa Top 10: Top 10 UK Dub & Reggae Anthems

Words by Eddie STATS Houghton, Jason “J-Rockaz” Orford, Gabriel Heatwave and DJ Gravy.

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All this talk about Gappy Ranks, Reggae Britannia and Rastamouse has got us thinking about how much sterling-quality reggae has come out of the island over the years. The big island. No, the other big island. The United Kingdom. Here are some of our personal favorites. Dennis! Come back wit’ me apple pie…

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Free Britannia: Reggae Britannia Documentary Goes Online

Words by Eddie STATS Houghton

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You may remember we mentioned this excellent new BBC documentary exploring the impact of Jamaican music on UK pop culture from the 1960s til now. Unless you were actually alive during the 60s and have suffered short-term memory loss from your lifestyle choices, in which case it was here and then here. Anyway, what we’re trying to tell you is that it has now been posted online in all its glory. The unlisted upload smells like piracy, so if you live outside the UK and can’t get it any other way, jump on this train while you still can! Watch below for great historical footage, an unseen interview with the late, great Sugar Minnott (and much more). That’s what we’ll be doing.

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Toppa Top 10: Busy Signal’s Top 10 Pop Summer Jams!

Words by Eddie STATS Houghton

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If you read Ghetto Palms in the last two years (or went to a reggae dance or looked up ‘bashment’ in the dictionary) you have probably come across an artist named Busy Signal. I would say that he has been owning dancehall lately (Kartel who?) but ever since I talked about his grimy downtempo flow in FADER 56 it seems like he has been on a mission to own every other genre in the music database. In that time he has dropped multiple soca collabos with the likes of Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and Faye Ann Lyons, interpolated Phil Collins and the Commodores on his dancehall hooks, released an EPs worth of tributes over Michael Jackson tracks, voiced Baltimore club, samba, weird highlife/afrobeat rhythms and chatted over Kung Fu sound fx and Indian percussion licks so spare that trendy club producers like Douster and SoShifty can’t resist refixing them into rave anthems.

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Mickey Dread: Disney Goes Reggae

Words by Eddie STATS Houghton

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Yes, you read the headline correctly. In yet another validation of the universal appeal (and selling power) of Caribbean music, entertainment giant Disney recently announced the release of it’s first all-reggae project, with a roots version of Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World” by Ziggy Marley (click here for a preview) as the lead single. As he discussed with LU in our recent interview, Ziggy has carved a niche for himself as the king of kiddy-bop lately with his Grammy win and Nickelodeon theme songs.

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