UB40’S ROBIN CAMPBELL: ‘BIGGA BAGGARIDDIM’ INTERVIEW 2021
To celebrate the release of Bigga Baggariddim the new album from British reggae legends UB40 (out today), we chat to the band’s co-founder and guitarist Robin Campbell about their career, gear and new record.
UB40 started out as a group of young friends from Birmingham and transcended their working-class origins to become the world’s most successful reggae bands, selling over 100 million records and spending over a combined 11 years in the UK album charts. From their politically charged debut album Signing Off in 1980 to the successful Labour of Love covers albums and the scores of hit singles, UB40 have left a significant mark in the annals of music history.
Following 2019’s critically acclaimed original album For The Many, UB40 have today (June 29) released Bigga Baggariddim, which is an album of seminal reggae collaborations with artists spanning four continents and seven decades of recording experience. It is an incredible celebration of the genre they love featuring House of Shem, Tippa Irie, BLVK H3RO, Inner Circle, Pablo Rider, KIOKO, Gilly G, Slinger, Winston Francis, Leno Banton and General Zooz (Reggae Rajahs).
A companion to their critically acclaimed 2019 album For The Many, Bigga Baggariddim features the same rhythms and guest artists from different parts of the world including Jamaica, New Zealand, India and UB40’s home town of Birmingham. New Zealand’s roots reggae band House Of Shem guest on three tracks, led by the irresistible Good Vibes Tonight. From India, the Reggae Rajahs’ General Zooz adds more diversity to UB40’s most eclectic album yet and as the founders of Goa’s annual reggae festival, are a testament to India’s rapidly growing reggae scene. They perform on the ear worm, Roots Rocks Reggae.
Joining this selection of international talent are artists from Reggae’s homeland of Jamaica, where a new generation of stars has emerged in the past decade, led by Protoje, Koffee and Chronixx. After UB40’s management heard a BBC 1Xtra session showcasing new Jamaican artists, BLVK H3RO and Leno Banton (son of legendary dancehall pioneer Burro Banton) were invited to appear on Bigga Baggariddim.
Veteran Jamaican reggae artists are represented by Winston Francis (whose long list of hits includes Mr Fix It, which UB40 covered on Labour Of Love III) and Inner Circle, whose overdubs on the track Rebel Love gives it their distinctive, platinum-selling Inner Circle Sound.
Reggae bands like UB40, who write and produce their own music, had all but disappeared in the UK until fellow Brummie band KIOKO came along. The two bands met when Kioko performed a tribute to UB40, playing One In Ten live at Birmingham’s annual Music Awards. They join the together on Bigga Baggariddim’s You Don’t Call Anymore.
Alongside UB40’s emergence in the 1980s, there was a UK deejay explosion. Of this talent, Tippa Irie made his reputation on London Sound Systems – and guests here on On The Road – alongside three Birmingham MC’s: Gilly G (Me Nah Leave Yet), Pablo Rider (Did You See That) and Slinger (My Life Action).
Pablo Rider and Slinger both featured on the original Baggariddim album in 1985 and also made cameo appearances on For The Many. They and Gilly G are all expected to join UB40 on the Bigga Baggariddim UK tour which begins in November.
UB40’s passion for reggae and belief in its cultural importance has led them to create an exceptional reggae collaborations album, which will remind the listener of reggae’s timeless and evolving power, whilst also introducing them to new, vital and emerging reggae talent.
1. Good Vibes Tonight – UB40 / House of Shem
2. On The Road – UB40 / Tippa Irie
3. Gravy Train Is Coming – UB40 / BLVK H3RO
4. Rebel Love – UB40 / Inner Circle
5. Did You See That? – UB40 / Pablo Rider
6. You Don’t Call Anymore – UB40 / KIOKO
7. Me Nah Leave Yet – UB40 / Gilly G
8. Love You Now – UB40 / House Of Shem
9. Mi Life Action – UB40 / Slinger
10. My Best Friend’s Girl – UB40 / Winston Francis
11. Message Of Love – UB40 / House Of Shem
12. I’m Alright – UB40 / BLVK H3RO
13. Show And Prove – UB40 / Leno Banton
14. What Happened To The Have Not’s? – UB40 / BLVK H3RO
15. Roots Rock Reggae – UB40 / General Zooz (Reggae Rajahs)
UB40’S 40th ANNIVERSARY ‘FOR THE MANY’ AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES (2022):
Thursday 17 March – Nightquarter – Sunshine Coast, QLD
Friday 18 March – Eatons Hill – Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 19 March – HOTA – Gold Coast, QLD
Tuesday 22 March – Forum – Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 24 March – Waves – Wollongong, NSW
Friday 25 March – Bigtop – Sydney, NSW
Sunday 27 March – Riverside Theatre – Perth, WA
- Dom DiSisto