TVD Radar: UB40, Signing Off 40th anniversary 2LP red vinyl in stores now

Quiet confidence. UB40’s debut single “King”/”Food For Thought” from 1980’s full-length debut hit my ears in ’85 awash in self-realized, subdued swagger. What was decidedly UK reggae was being introduced among a number of new wave acts at then. So along with the English Beat, The Specials, The Selecter, and perhaps even Culture Club, UB40’s Signing Off landed on my turntable. Most confidently.

It’s said there are too many anniversaries of late, all feted with elaborate boxsets, troves of archival material, rarities, live bits—you name it. However the 40th Anniversary release of Signing Offa 2LP collection on 180gram red vinyl—arrives just as it landed once upon a very good time—with quiet confidence. And its socio-political messaging under every percolating hook and bubbling bass line mirrors our times as they once mirrored 1980.

“Tyler”—with its sudden, silent break that rattled this stoned DJ’s radio show (Oh shit—pshew…), “King, “Burden of Shame,” “Little by Little” resonate with global and hyper-local race and wage disparities, but lord are they lovely and as prescient as ever. So, as I cue up this anniversary platter for a celebratory waltz, I’ll leave you with some official info below—and a purchase link. Here’s to 40 more with this gem. —Ed.

40 years after its landmark release in 1980, the vinyl reissue of UK pop/reggae band UB40 debut album Signing Off, will be released on March 14, 2021 via EMI/UME. An instant critical success, Signing Off debuted at #2 on the UK album charts and was later certified Platinum by the BPI, with singles “Food For Thought” and “I Think it’s Going To Rain Today” reaching the top ten of the UK singles charts. The 2LP (180g) red vinyl features all 10 original tracks, as well as three bonus tracks, “Madam Medusa,” “Strange Fruit,” and “Reefer Madness.”

The cover artwork memorably duplicated the UK’s equivalent of an unemployment benefit card (a “UB40”), with the title Signing Off rubber-stamped in red, but it was the music that quickly worked its way into the musical collections of a young, mainly student crowd with its knowing lyrics, upbeat reggae rhythms and dubby, instrumental passages, offset by warm horn solos and Jamaican style scatting. An impactful debut, Signing Off signaled the entry of a formidable voice in British New Wave.

NME called the album “A courageous debut… Their radical sentiments and trenchant lyrics are given all the more force by the soft-fist of UB40’s measured musical delivery… The music might be mellow, but the hard-backed sentiments are hardly those of the nice reggae band you may have pigeonholed the UBs as,” later placing it at #13 on their Albums Of The Year list. AllMusic said that “Their rhythms may have been reggae-based, their music Jamaican-inspired, but UB40 had such an original take on the genre that all comparisons were moot… Their music was… revolutionary, their sound unlike anything else.”

BBC Music stated that “Signing Off is still believed by many to be the group’s greatest album, and it remains the clearest window into what the band were all about… [it] has energy and intelligence that made it stand out from so much post-punk pop.” Q magazine would also rank Signing Off at #83 on their “100 Greatest British Albums” list.

UB40 – Signing Off (2LP Set)
TRACK LISTING

LP1 – Side A
1. Tyler
2. King
3. 12 Bar
4. Burden Of Shame

LP1 – Side B
1. Adella
2. I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
3. 25%
4. Food For Thought
5. Little By Little
6. Signing Off

LP2 – Side A
1. Madam Medusa

LP2 – Side B
1. Strange Fruit
2. Reefer Madness

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