My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Original album is tracks 1-13, with 11-13 being released on an included 12″
Brief Background: Signing Off is the debut album by UK band UB40. The band formed in 1978, not knowing how to play their instruments. By the time of this recording they had practiced eight hour shifts every day to learn them . The album was mostly recorded during the summer of 1980. The band recorded at the producer’s efficiency apartment. Some of the album was recorded in doors, but much being recorded out in a garden. The band were running the electricity off of a pay meter and had to keep feeding a coin in to keep it going. The album was released in August of 1980.
What I think: This is one of those times when the story of how an album was made makes it better. For them to get these results out of the conditions they had is amazing! It sounds like a professionally done, laid back recording.
The group itself is an interesting band for us in the USA. I’ve always heard how politically charged their music was. We didn’t get that here. We got “Red, Red Wine” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, which are enjoyable they are just about as far from political as you can get. This album certainly shows that Socialist bite, with most of the songs railing against the Conservative Party in the UK at the time.
Music-wise, I can’t say I appreciate it as much. The whole thing is just too smooth for me. It’s lacking the Punk energy that I need in Ska and Reggae to really enjoy it. (In fact the song I enjoy the most is their cover of Randy Newman’s “I Think it’s Going to Rain Today, which brings just a spark of that energy). That being said, the actual recording is well done, I love how clean it sounds. You can pick out every instrument and follow it, but it works great as a whole as well. That is a huge achievement for how it was recorded.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? It’s not my thing, but I think it should be here. It’s a piece you acknowledge is great without liking it yourself.
Rating (Out of 5) 3
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (367/483)
Amount that are new to me: 76%