808 State vs UB40 – One in Ten

Release Date: Dec 92
Chart Position: 17

I think I must be getting old, this whole set up confuses me. I’m going to start with the video, who are these men on Scooters? Are they mods? Why are there mods in a nineties rave video? The Scooters must be pretty slow as these boys have turned up 30 years late. The next scene I can deal with, it’s in a squat, there are people in bomber jackets gurning and watching UB40 videos. Hold up, it’s the facking rozzers, time to scarper to Lytham St Annes on our scooters, where I know a factory canteen from the 50s where we can get a cup of tea, they also show videos of UB40 concerts. Right off to Blackpool, don’t preach in the road mate, you’ll get run over. Right lads we’re at the North Pier, time to look hard. What a mess.

Now the song, I like the original and I’m not sure 808 state have added anything to it. It’s all a bit clichéd and formulaic. The beat is meh, complete Dreamscape fodder, nothing special going on there at all. All the production effects are very obv ious combined with a speeded up bassline from Freak Power , uninspiring. The only good bits in this song are the UB40 bits. The whole thing’s an unnecessary confusing mish mash.
Score: 3/10 because I like the original.

This is very much the outer perimeter of Neggae; a dark, brooding space where Reggae mingles with edgier genres to create strange and wonderful hybrids. Dark Neggae. Dance Neggae. Deggae. As a rule though, Negggae doesn’t like it here too long, comes back, has a wash and serves up CJ Lewis and Big Mountain.
UB40 are crown princes of Neggae (they grace our chart no less than 7 times); and massively benefitted from the mid-90s rensaissance of UK Chart-based reggae. This song however harks back to UB40 Mk1; darlings of the NME, original badboys, creators of one of the greatest British LPs of all time (Signing Off). It’s a classic piece of social commentary, every bit as vital and emotive as the Specials’ more famous Ghost Town. So for 808 State to take on One in Ten was as brave as it was timely (unemployment figures in 1992 were around the 10% mark as they had been in 1981).
Do they succeed? I think they do. This is a labour of love. The opening phased drum break that switches from half to double time, the percussive bongo stabs, the breakdown to allow the mournful sax solo room to breathe; all intelligent moments. I love the fact that the bassline sounds like a cross between Kraftwerk’s The Model and Aswad’s LoveFire. This is how a remix of an old classic should be done; using contemporary tools to modernise the sound without losing any original spirit of the song.
The video is formulaic but pretty enough to look at; it’s well shot. There’s plenty of (to quote another bard from Birmingham) “deep seated urban decay” as is standard on Nineties dance music videos. The narrative makes no sense, but that doesn’t matter. The song is the story here, and it’s just swell.
Score: 8/10

Well, it’s not slow and sexy, so this automatically wins.I like it’s non-traditional mix of UB40 and urban beats – underground Neggae if you will.
The video appears to be about a good boys night out in the northern riviera, more commonly known as Blackpool. What more could you ask for than a video that includes mopeds especially with sidecars, police, a questionable venue for evening entertainment and a couple of old leopard print wearing slappers. This hits home with me on so many levels that I’m sold. Apart from the mopeds, it could be a night out in Woking only swapping the greasy spoon for the kebab house?
As far as the music, it’s pretty non-offensive, very repetitive but the distinct tones of UB40 break it up nicely. It’s easy to listen to, good late night tune in a crowded bar, turned up loud. No dramas with this one. Very little reggae however I think it works and works well.
Score: 7/10 deep breaths and a sigh of relief after last weeks effort from Mr Ranks and Mr Gill.

On paper, the suggestion of collaboration between UB40 and 808 state is interesting. The UK’s most successful commercial reggae band ever meets the Manchester pioneers of 89 Acid house. Could it work? Really ?
Sadly this was always doomed to fail. Had the best elements of each party been brought to the table then perhaps I may be able to look at this song in a different light. For this to happen however the meeting of minds would have had to have taken place 3 or 4 years prior to 1992. Unfortunately after numerous changes in staff and unavoidable life changing events neither band could be considered to be at their peak.
After the Departure of Graham Simpson ( A guy called Gerald ) in 1989, 808 never really replicated the solo success and industry acclaim of first album Newbuild and Hacienda classic single Pacific State.
The induction of Andrew Baker and Darren Partington as DJs and later moss side rapper MC Tunes as lead vocalist would see the group pursue an entirely new path. Enabling them some chart success with “The Only Rhyme that bites” and the Stone Roses sampling “Tunes Splits the Atom”. The Acid House influence however fell by the wayside. The same can be said for UB40. With the untimely death of Producer Ray “Pablo” Falconer and subsequent imprisonment of his Brother Earl, the band’s unmistakable signature sound and production artistry was somewhat lost. They were no longer as innovative, unique or perhaps as hungry as the band that recorded seminal albums Signing off and Bagariddim.
So here we are in 1992, neither having had any successful original material for a good 3 years. Perhaps the idea of a “vs” track was appealing to both parties. Unfortunately the production work seems lazy. The beats are fuzzy and it has more of an early jungle feel to it than that of an acid house track. There’s no intro, no build up, no next level ,no progression. Just a cluttered break some fuzzy hoover bass with a UB40 track crudely thrown in over the top for good measure.
I can’t imagine UB40 having much to do with the production of this track. I imagine it was more a case of signing, shaking hands and exchanging bank details. If anything, this smacks of 808 perhaps trying to get on board the Neggae bandwagon and once again reinvent themselves.The video is a standard 90’s rave scene. Funfair, squat party, portly coppers, hoodies, rave. Then all of a sudden some motor cross madness. Culminating in two youts’ riding a past a preacher in a modern day side cart motorcycle. Sadly, that was as interesting a development as this whole project had to offer.
Score: UB Naughty. 4 from me.

Jesus Christ this is bad!
Reggae and Trance (or what ever it is) do not mix! Which dick thought that they would? For me Reggae or more specifically Neggae is about nice chilled out tunes complimented by amusing lyrics with comical delivery. This does not deliver against these expectations. This is not Neggae, its a dirty mutation taking the worst of everything and creating a two and half minute waste of time. It is repetitive and boring and just feels grubby. I can’t imagine putting this on at a BBQ – maybe if I wanted everyone to leave? If you can’t play it at a BBQ it’s not Neggae; sorry but it’s as simple as that.
I get the intent and can even appreciate its bravery but it is not good. Although these things need to be tried they don’t have to force it upon other people and this I slightly resent. UB40 sound strong and again show why they were such a dominant force of the era, however it does not do enough to rescue the whole thing from being an unfortunate blemish in their history.
Why is the video about mods in Blackpool rolling around like bad extras from a Danny Dyer film? None of it makes sense and seems pointless to me.
Score: 2/10. Bring on the good stuff and quick please!



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