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Old 8th September 2013, 04:30 AM
Baggariddim Baggariddim is offline
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Default Some Thoughts On Getting Over The Storm

I’ve been reading and enjoying all of the BB reviews of GOTS. Have also loved seeing the 3 part interviews with Robin, Brian and Astro. Finally, we got our copy of the album and have been listening constantly. Thought I would weigh in as well.

Except for a handful of songs or two, Country Music has never really spoken to me spiritually or emotionally. If anything, I have more of an affinity for Bluegrass or Folk than Country. Musically speaking, in my life (and to coin a phrase from Astro), “Reggae Must Come First”. Upon hearing the news of the reggae-country slant of Getting Over The Storm, I was surprised to say the least, uncertain for what may or may not come to pass and waiting patiently for the album’s release. After listening to the band’s interviews and hearing the album, the band has opened my ears to gaining a better appreciation of certain aspects of Country Music. I have heard some good combinations of the two genres, with songs by Toots & The Maytals, Willie Nelson, Romain Virgo and the recent album released on VP Records, Reggae Gone Country.
Astro’s recent interview quote that “Reggae Must Come First” guides the overall portrait of a solid album that in a couple of instances, Reggae does seem to take a bit of a backseat.

Getting Over The Storm undoubtedly has the stellar production values we’ve come to expect of a UB40 album. The choice of songs is excellent, if often unrelentingly sad. The original UB40 penned tunes are pure poetry.
Duncan and Robin’s vocals are exquisite, at times heartbreaking, which befits the material at hand. Earl and Jimmy’s riddim section is steady, keeping me bumping the whole time. The melodies are beautiful and the horn section is often as subtle as it is sublime. Think Norman’s percussion parts needed to be emphasized more overall. As some have said, I must agree that the vocal presence of Earl, Norman and Astro in particular is sorely missed.
For example, on Labour of Love IV, Astro doesn’t have an entire song, but his brief chatting and toasting peppers and punctuates that album, adding uplift, weight or another element of fun to the songs. That kind of contribution from Astro on Getting Over The Storm could really raise the album to a higher level. With UB40’s incredibly massive and multi-layered sound at this point in their history, it’s always welcome to spotlight the talents and contributions of all 5 singers with each project.

The covers alone clearly and fully display the emotional depth of pain and underlying hope inside Country’s deceptively simple lyrics on romantic loneliness and despair. This is especially true in the standout Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, plus On The Other Hand, Crying Time, He’ll Have To Go and the title track. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain should be a HUGE top 10 chart hit in the States and around the world. It also features perhaps the finest use of the talented Melvin Duffy’s pedal steel guitar. Jim Reeves’ “He’ll Have To Go” is a classic that I’ve always loved. Robin’s impressive vocals and the easy-going feel, given a bounce by the smooth horns make it a winner. It could be a hit single. Would love it played live at the gigs. I love Robert Palmer and his music, but was never a fan of his and UB’s version of “On The Other Hand”. THIS particular version is an improvement with several nice touches. “If You Ever Have Forever” is another standout. It’s amazing how they’ve turned this into a wonderful piece of Lovers Rock with that special and unique UB40 touch. “Midnight Rider” really kicks off the album with a punch, including great guitar work from Robin. It gets me moving. The use of the organ sound is inspired. Big Up Tony on that!

The original tunes are my favorites with “Blue Bilet Doux” and “How Will I Get Through This” being absolutely exceptional. Much has been said about Blue Bilet Doux so I won’t add anything here. I’ll just say I love it! “How Will I Get Through”, like “If You Ever Have Forever” are perhaps the most traditionally reggae sounding of the album. “How Will I Get Through” has a seductive riddim that really pulls you in. And the insinuating horns add a tension that perfectly matches the lyrical content. However, it cuts off too short, just as the music takes over at the end in what I thought was going to be a dub section. Please guys, give us a dub or extended version of the song! “I Did What I Did” has an awesome ending that provides a beautiful emotional ending to the proceedings.

“Poor Man” has brilliant lyrics---real and relevant to the everyday struggle many people are going through. The truth in that song is plainly spoken in no uncertain terms. The UB lyrical touches are excellent. It’s purely a matter of personal taste, but for lack of better words, musically the song is way too twangy/country for me. It is here where the reggae takes backseat to the country vibe. I absolutely love the skanking riddim and horns, but given the nature of the lyrics, I feel the twangy/country parts get in the way. However, Duncan’s lead is just right, lending the right vocal irony to its reality lyrics. I think UB40’s version could have been a perfect opportunity to add Astro or Earl (or both) on a toasting/DJ portion somehow, some way. I’m not saying to completely abandon any type of country elements here. I think the song just deserves a little more of Reggae’s harder, perhaps even rootsier edge, pulsating through for greater effect to the overall album.

This brings me finally to the use of the talented Melvin Duffy’s pedal steel guitar. At times, it can be a bit intrusive. On a few of the choons, it feels that perhaps the horns should be more upfront instead of the steel guitar. But, there are many instances where it works very well, especially on Blue Eyes. Plus, it’s incredible how the steel guitar sound isn’t always traditionally country. I’m impressed in the moments how the steel guitar offers beautiful sounds that one can hear often in Hawaiian and Pacific Island Reggae and other similar vibes.

Anant/DreamBig brought up an interesting question about where GOTS lies between the worlds of Reggae and Country, adding an interesting illustration. At this point, I’m not exactly sure where Reggae or Country fans will stand on thealbum in either favored genre.
To me, it is a Reggae/Reggae-Country album of good music. At heart, it’s a UB40 album. UB40 is still the world’s greatest Reggae band around. No one does what UB40 does, the way they do it and so on. They have a style of music, a style of Reggae that is all their own and one of the most recognizable. The stamp they’ve put on the genre is indelible. They still have a lot more to contribute to this, the most wonderful of all types of music. What they’ve done here with GOTS is a marked departure from anything they’ve done. It was a bold move to attempt this album on many levels. It does succeed in several areas, which includes further marking the band’s musical identity with Duncan and Tony. We can all speculate on what we’d like to see from the band in future recordings and shows. I certainly have a few ideas that have been on my mind. Given the struggles the band has gone through in the 3 years since Labour Of Love IV---financial issues, personal losses, postponed shows, illnesses and injuries including this latest unfortunate occurrence with Jimmy’s wrists (Get well soon Jimmy!!!) piled on with probably other things we cannot fathom but are best left private to the band. We should be grateful that the band is still here, making music and doing shows.

For example, Jolene and I have had the blessing of seeing many performances by The Melodians, one of our most favorite groups. We’ve even booked them for shows. They’ve been performing for 50 years with a ton of struggle and being underappreciated as one of Jamaican music’s most influential groups. Let’s not forget their influence on UB40. One of the surviving members is very ill. We pray for him and hope you will do the same.
This side note is just to say UB40 is alive and well, in spite of them getting over the storm as their album title suggests. Let’s hope this album puts them back in the spotlight in a positive way. Let’s appreciate their resilient attitude that keeps them going in the face of incredible odds and changing times. Let’s appreciate what we’ve had with them over the years and now.
Let’s keep showing them the love we have for them and the thanks we have for providing such great music in our lives and encourage them to do more in the future. They have a lot more to accomplish.

Peace,
Bagga......
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Old 8th September 2013, 10:53 AM
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Great to read your thoughts, Bagga.
You made some great observations.
This UB40 album has been the only album I have struggled with due to the genre but as always, music, lyrics and vocals are second to none, even if not all my taste, I can appreciate the content.
Agree would have liked more input from Astro, Earl and Norman but cant have it all.
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Old 8th September 2013, 01:59 PM
Niggy_Dawg Niggy_Dawg is offline
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A nice read, thanks for that Bagga
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Old 8th September 2013, 02:36 PM
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Excellent read !!!
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Old 8th September 2013, 02:38 PM
kate13 kate13 is offline
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Bagga this was the album I was worried about, Country music for me is A big turn off.
But i'm quite surprised at the outcome and enjoying it, steely guitar thingy an all..........It's right for the present time.
I'm looking at it as a one off and a change is good as a rest.
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Old 8th September 2013, 05:05 PM
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Quality read,as expected.
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Old 8th September 2013, 08:30 PM
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so very well said Bagga! a great read...thank you.
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Old 8th September 2013, 09:24 PM
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nice read bagga x
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Old 9th September 2013, 07:05 AM
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what a read mate. bagga you should be installed ad the bands promo manager
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Old 9th September 2013, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old loonie View Post
what a read mate. bagga you should be installed ad the bands promo manager
Actually Bagga and I were just talking about that!

Jolene
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