Release Date: Nov 95
Chart Position: 15
Until My Dying Day is where UB40’s digital neggae sound finally reaches its peak. They’ve now computerised every aspect of the track to the point where the band could probably walk off stage (possibly after a disagreement about royalties from the Geffrey Morgan album) and the song would carry on playing exactly the same. Normally you can at least rely on the brass to bring a bit of acoustic warmth, but here Brian Travers has got his hands on 808 state’s old electro-clarinet and replaced his lusty parping with an atmospheric tootling effect. Meanwhile the standard reggae keyboard stabs give way to a fiddly synth figure and Jimmy Brown has given up completely and delegated the drumming to that syndrum pad from Phoenix Nights that “shits on a cowbell”.
Up to this point, the more digital UB40 have got, the cheesier they’ve got. But on this track the complete abolition of any human input actually takes them back to something a little more like their 1980 sound: spooky, menacing, questioning, unresolved. You can’t really call it reggae, which is shocking to say about a UB40 track, but the fact is if skank was water this would be the Atacama Desert. Even so, there is a fair bit to like:
that endless synth figure draws you in and gets under your skin, the moody strings for once don’t sound out of place, and Ali’s voice really suits the mood: often mealy-mouthed on the love stuff, he sounds sinuous and compelling slinking around in the synthy gloom, singing about how he’s not going to tell us the thing he’s telling us he’s not going to tell us.
Overall, then, this does a lot wrong, but gets a fair bit right almost by accident. If every neggae song had sounded like this then I doubt Vince and the boys would have bothered with the blog, but I can go with it as a one-off. Bonus points as well for using the same four chords as Get Lucky – sing one over the other on your tea break and enjoy.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Another bout of UB40. That’s two weeks in a row of inspiring, islandic beats and tunes…. I think not. In fact, I’m not even sure how this makes it on to the Hot 90. I’ve come to the realization that you either love UB40 (Ali Campbell) or you hate them. I fall into the latter category. I’m tired, I’m bored of having to review this group over and over again. When will it end? It seems that we get a UB40 hiatus every now and then, I recover mentally and boom, there they are, same $h*t different day. This is gonna be hard to review as I only had a chance to listen to it a couple of times before the link broke. Maybe it’s for the best. My first impressions are not good, I did try to locate another version, found some dodgy remix that made it slightly more acceptable to listen to than the one provided. Here are my initial thoughts.
1) This is bad
2) This is too slow
3) The Ali C show has run its course
4) They still employ the same videographer
5) This is bad
6) I wish I was listening to Shaggy
1/10 – no explanation needed – see above notes
I think that this is worst song we have do so far. I had to play youtube link a number of times on different devices as I was convinced it didn’t work and even looked for different versions online as I thought there was some kind of error, but it really is that shit. What the hell were they doing? Ali’s sounds like he’s doing an impression of Vic and Bob doing an impression of Ali Campbell with a cold. The delivery is so bad, I was expecting better from the UB’s….
I really can’t think of a single positive…..its no longer than 3.42mins long? As far as I am aware no one has died? But that is about it. I’m starting to think that the ride is over, neg is dying.
Although its bad I do think that UB40 have offered up a very poignant moment in neg history, with it symbolising the death of something once loved by so many. Like Airwolf, The A Team, Michael Jackson and Heartbreak High, you just wish it could have ended on a high, but they kept on and on at it. Neil Young once wrote ‘it’s better to burn out than to fade away’, and I feel this is never more true than this effort from the UB.
A sad day, the beginning of the end for neg 1/10.
Until My Dying Day was a non-LP single, released as a tie-in for UB40’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2. If you look at the tracklisting, they should have really called it “UB40: The Neggae Years” – as without the resurgence in the popularity that we are covering on this blog, I don’t think the LP (and therefore this lead single) would have been created or released. So Until My Dying Day is basically the most Neggyist of Neg – It’s self-fulfilling Neggae.
A fairly downbeat and melancholy number, it attempts to deal with age old issues of trust and confidentiality in love. Unfortunately, the questioning-slash-bargaining tone of the “tell-me-your-secrets-and-I-won’t-tell-a-soul” lyrics just come across as a little bit paranoid bordering on passive-aggressive. A lot of UB40 music is imbibed with the positive qualities of Marijuana – the bouncing, good vibes , the cheery lyrics. Well this is the flipside.
Sonically it is great, a very modern sounding production which I bet would still sound great on a decent digital radio today. For me it’s certainly 90sdance-influenced, with the synth washes and electronic baselines highlighting that the YowBees must have been to a rave or three. And is it me, or is the melody a rip from the verse part of this banger?
Where UB40 are clever musicians though you can still here the reggae influences throughout. Top stuff.
Videowise, well it’s not going to win any awards. UB40’s videos are always a fairly bland experience; and after a couple of weeks of Suggs mugging for the camera this feels like a Ingmar Bergman short. Moody look bass-playing, stroppy drumwork, a touchy performance from Ali – its what you expect. Wasn’t expecting a burial scene in a modern 90s apartment. Whose death was being commemorated though? Yitzak Rabin was assassinated in November 1995 when this came out – but its not him.
In fact, its not a person they are putting six feet under; its Neggae itself. This is UB40’s last effort on the Neggae Hot 90 – and they’re saying “Without us, this scene is dead”. They’re metaphorically taking the ball home because their Mum’ just shouted that the Findus Crispy Panakes, chips and beans are ready. She’s called time on the Neggae kickabout.
Score: A Show-closing 8 out of 10 for me.
This week we find Ali and the chaps in cagey mood with ‘Until my dying day’. I can only think that the boys had some moody funk before recording this as there’s a paranoid almost cold war like feel to this, it’s the Le Carre novel of Neggae. The production could be by Vangelis from the ‘Blade Runner’ soundtrack with its minimal electro feel and sinister strings.
Lyrically Ali is promising not to reveal an un-named person’s secret for love nor money until the day he dies. I’m not sure of the sincerity of this promise as he could die at any moment, he can’t predict being fatally crushed by a palm tree or falling into one of Birmingham’s many canals and drowning, I can only assume he used one of those internet life expectancy clocks and actually thought it was true. He seems to be directly referencing the tabloids at one point saying he won’t sell at any price (although given some of the shit they’ve churned out for cash I’m not sure this is strictly true)
‘Don’t ask me what I saw
You know my secrets not for sale’
Which makes me wonder what this neggae secret is, so I’m running a book* if anyone is interested.
*In the event of a palpable error no bets will be settled or stakes refunded.
Evens – Shabba Ranks bums cats;
5/1 – Chaka Demus and Pliars are the neggae equivalent of Milli Vanilli;
10/1 – CJ Lewis is actually Dion Dublin;
20/1 – Snow was actually Jon Snow in disguise and was an international hoodwink on the scale of Orson Welles doing ‘War of the Worlds’;
The video looks like it was shot in some shitty bar/club in the nineties, or present day if you’re in Woking, and doesn’t have a lot going on in it. It mainly consists of moody shots of the boys dressed in their Foster suits and black shirt and tie combos and sums up the whole thing pretty well as it’s pretty mundane.
This sums up the mood when the bar runs out of Red Stripe, Neggae is supposed to be fun.
4/10 as they’ve done worse.
NEGGAE SCORE: 4.0