UB40’s fortunes changed at the beginning of 1980. Having spent the previous years working live: and rapidly developing an instant buzz among the movers & shakers: they were asked to join The Pretenders’ triumphant national tour. The Pretenders were then at the top of the charts: and very hot indeed. They could have hardly have chosen a hotter support act.
The first single with Graduate: their initial label: was a double-A coupling of “””Food For Thought“””” a bitter meditation on third-world poverty: and “”””King“”””: a lament for Dr. Martin Luther King.
The first album was released on September of that year. The sleeve was a reproduction of the familiar buff-coloured dole card (more familiar: at that time: than it had ever been): with the title “”””Signing Off“””” apparently rubber-stamped in red. It referred to “”””signing off”””” the dole: i.e. getting a job. It was both an acknowledgement of the band’s inception: and a celebration of their new status.
At the end of 1980: the contract with Graduate expired: and UB40 formed their own record company: DEP International.
UB40 have maintained their instantly recognisable and highly distinctive style through nine more albums: as well as two hits compilations.
“”””The Best Of UB40 – Volume One“”””: released in November ’87: It stayed in the UK charts for 123 weeks.
For twenty years: UB40 have continued the job of popularising reggae around the globe. In the process: they continue to give enormous pleasure to a public too vast to be defined by age: generation tribe or fashion: Welcome to the party!