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are a British dub / reggae pop music band formed in 1978 in Birmingham.
The band is one of the world's most culturally diverse dub reggae bands
with musicians of English, Scottish, Irish, Yemeni and Jamaican
parentage. The band is named from the paper form issued by the UK
government's Department of Health and Social Security at the time of
the band's formation for claiming unemployment benefit (UB40 =
Unemployment Benefit, Form 40). Their first album was titled "Signing
Off," as the band were signing off from the unemployment benefit. UB40
got there first big break by being the support act to The Pretenders,
after Chrissie Hynde, saw them playing in a Pub.
UB40 were influenced by the many Blues Parties they attended as teenagers in the multiracial Balsall Heath area of Birmingham, their love of ska and reggae inspired such original tracks as "King", "Madam Medusa", "Food for Thought", "Signing Off" and "One in Ten". Their early music style was unique, with a heavy influence of analogue synthesizers, psychedelic rock guitar, saxophone and dub producer techniques which were later perfected by the late Pablo Falconer. Ali and Robin Campbell have a musical heritage, being sons of Ian Campbell, a folk musician. The band purchased its first instruments with compensation money Ali Campbell received after a bar fight. They have had a number of hits, most commercially and to amusement of the band, "Red Red Wine", a cover version of a Neil Diamond song (in an arrangement similar to that of Tony Tribe's version). Their most successful single release is the cover of the Elvis Presley ballad "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" which was intended to be the main title to the 1992 Sharon Stone movie Sliver and was a Number One hit across Europe and in the U.S. In fact, all three of their UK Number One hits and all four of their U.S. top ten hits were cover versions.
Many of UB40's recordings were inspired by 1960s ska and early lovers rock songs that would have otherwise been forgotten in the public eye. Their new injection of life into so many old Jamaican hits has resulted in many musicians' and producers' renewed popularity and income. UB40's early music often tackled social issues such as racism and unemployment. Other artists that UB40 have collaborated with include: Pato Banton, Madness, Bitty McLean, Chrissie Hynde, Robert Palmer, Hunterz, Japanese artist Mikidozan, French artist Nuttea, Lady Saw, Afrika Bambaataa and 808 State. UB40 are arguably the number one reggae act of all time in terms of record sales (over 55 million), chart positions and touring schedule. During their three-decade year career they have been performing sell-out shows worldwide, and headlining the Reggae Sunsplash Tour in Jamaica as well as spreading reggae to Russia and South America, among others. They even have performed at the BBC Proms, an event more associated with classical music.The band's lineup has been remarkably stable throughout their nearly 30-year career.
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Official Homepage: www.ub40.co.uk
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