Monday, 23 September 2013

UB40 and Robert Palmer 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight'

Chart Peak: UK 6

It's not something I'd normally draw attention to, of course, but in the context of a South African CD it's hard not to notice that there's something different about UB40 from the acts we've encountered so far. That's right, they're from Birmingham. No seriously, even here there was a time when having black and white people in the same band was a controversial statement. But of course, UB40 have always been hugely popular in Africa so in the democratising early 1990s it's not surprising to see them here and even taking top billing whilstover here this was a Robert Palmer single with UB40 only guest performers. It comes from a Palmer album and he appears alone on the UK artwork, as well as taking the lead vocal (it sounds like at least some of the harmonies are him too, actually).

The song is of course a cover (yes, UB40 in cover version shocker!) of a track from Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding album, the first he'd released since his infamous motorcycle accident. Atypical of Dylan's work at this time, it's a light-hearted romantic song and the original version has a relaxed mood in keeping with the lyric. Neither Palmer nor UB40 ever really did that sort of calm easy-going music though, and the scrupulously tidy production undermines the effect rather.

Available on: The Essential Selection

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