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UB40 “Signing Off” (Graduate, 1980)

Signing_OffWhat a debut album by reggae outfit UB40. Not only was “Signing Off” daring in it’s choice of subject matter, with issues including the yet-named globalization, but this thing charted pretty mightily. It’s powerful message was subdued by dub production, like it’s companion single “The Earth Dies Screaming,” and that message, still key, wafted over air waves like a chilled wind.

Sax melodies lead the way while a reggae / two-tone rhythm section switches on a dime frequently mid-track. But the pace is still swingable, low, “heavy” in it’s slow plodding. Two of the these numbers are covers that fit well within their rep, including Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today” and the ever topical “Strange Fruit,” which still (STILL, huff) resonates today.

Here we are at the end of 2015. Echoes (dubbing) of Thatcherism on the way? Political rhetoric of killers and businessmen are in full swing, and UB40’s quiet, cold and cavernous assessment of their time still rings true here and now. -Wade

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