On June 16, 2008, UB40 released their long-awaited and much-anticipated 25th album, TWENTYFOURSEVEN. The album will be the band’s final recording with former member and lead singer Ali Campbell. TWENTYFOURSEVEN represents UB40 at their creative and musical best, taking strength and inspiration from their political and social conscience and producing arguably one of their finest albums to date of original material, cover versions, and collaborations. The new album features seventeen tracks with collaborations from reggae stalwart Maxi Priest, 1 LOVE, Rasa Don from Arrested Development, Marvin Priest, and Hunterz. The album was recorded in Birmingham, London, Sweden, New York, Fayetteville, Georgia, USA. The TWENTYFOURSEVEN full track listing is:
1. End Of War
2. Lost And Found
3. Dance Until The Morning Light
4. This Is How It Is
5. Rainbow Nation
6. Here We Go Again
7. I Shot The Sheriff
8. Oh America! (Extended version)
9. Once Around
10. Slow Down
11. I’ll Be Back
12. Instant Radical Change Of Perception
13. It’s All In The Game
14. I’ll Be There
15. Middle Of The Night
16. Securing The Peace
17. The Road
Highlights of the album include “Lost And Found,” a soulful duet between Ali Campbell and Astro, taken from the band’s recent musical Promises & Lies. It is a song about self-realization, from lonely desperation to redemption. “Dance Until The Morning Light” (the double A-sided single) features a groovy sample loop taken from Desmond Dekker and the Aces’ groundbreaking 1968 hit “Israelites” featuring Maxi Priest on vocals with rapper “Truth.” “Rainbow Nation,” a poignant and haunting song that the band wrote 30 years on as a follow-up to the original song “Tyler,” taken from UB40’s first album, Signing Off. The song is about Gary Tyler, a black Southern Louisiana prisoner, incarcerated 35 years ago for a crime he didn’t commit. Today, after numerous appeals, he remains on Death Row as one of the world’s longest-serving prisoners. “I’ll Be Back,” a cover of the Beatles classic from the album A Hard Day’s Night, was originally sung by John Lennon and is performed this time by UB40’s Robin Campbell. “End Of War” is an anti-war song, the title of which was taken and inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s September 25, 1961 speech to the UN General Assembly.
The title says it all. “Mankind must put an end to war or war will end mankind” is a lyric that talks about the futility of war and its endless repetition, despite the experience of our past mistakes. “I Shot The Sheriff,” a collaboration between UB40 and Maxi Priest, pays homage to Marley’s timeless classic.
UB40 are without doubt the world’s biggest, most popular, and most well-loved reggae band, and one of the U.K.’s finest musical exports. Their combined single and album sales are in excess of 70 million with a staggering 41 Top-40 singles. A list of UB40’s best-known songs reads like a litany of alternative national anthems: “One In Ten,” “King,” “Tyler,” “Many Rivers To Cross,” “Cherry Oh Baby,” “If It Happens Again,” “I Got You Babe,” “Don’t Break My Heart,” “Rat In Mi Kitchen,” “Homely Girl,” “Kingston Town,” “Higher Ground,” “Red Red Wine,” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
Their phenomenal success has earned them a rightful place alongside such great British artists as the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and U2. They’ve had No. 1 smash hits in virtually every chart on the planet, including the notoriously hard-to-crack American market, a feat that even British superstars Robbie Williams and Oasis have yet to conquer. UB40’s celebrity following includes the likes of Gwen Stefani, Sir Paul McCartney, and Keith Allen, while Hollywood A-list big-hitters Kiefer Sutherland and Sharon Stone are fully paid-up members of the UB40 fan-club. Their musical collaborations over the past three decades have included such esteemed company as the late Robert Palmer, Chrissie Hynde, Afrika Bambaataa, 808 State, The Mighty Diamonds, Freddie McGregor, John Holt, Toots Hibbert, Gregory Isaacs, Max Romeo, and Beenie Man, to name but a few.
Commenting on the new album, band member James Brown said, “We are really pleased with the new album; it’s a good reflection of what UB40 are all about and probably one of our best albums. There are some songs that are politically influenced, such as ‘Rainbow Nation,’ highlighting the plight and injustice of Gary Tyler, a black southern Louisiana prisoner, who was incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. Today, 35 years later, he is the longest serving prisoner on Death Row. ‘The Road’ is a mythical road as a means of escape from the injustices of the world but the safe road doesn’t exist, every road is blocked by something else, another horror. The road from Darfur runs red with denial, waterless mile after waterless mile. The album also features more upbeat and up-tempo tracks, such as ‘This Is How It Is’ - a song about the inevitability of life; we come into this world alone and leave it the same way...alone! It’s a happy song about getting old and accepting the inevitable. ‘Dance Until The Morning Light’ is just one of those songs that lifts your spirit, makes you smile, and you can’t help but dance to this song.”
The band has also announced that they will be collaborating with Maxi Priest and Duncan Campbell, brother of Robin and Ali, both on further recorded material and future live concerts this year. The band is also keeping tight-lipped about future collaborations with other artists.
Commenting on the collaborations, Brian Travers said, “UB40 has had a long tradition of working and collaborating with various artists over the years; Maxi Priest came out on tour with us last year, and after his performance of ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ it was a natural and logical progression to work together. Maxi has worked on two tracks for the new album with us. Duncan, who is the third Campbell brother, also has a gifted voice like his two brothers. He came into the studio one day and started singing over some tracks with Robin, and we were just struck by his voice; the relationship just evolved very naturally.”