UB40 Food For Thought

UB40 Food For Thought
Reggae fans often lament UB40's lost potential as a roots band. Their early work showed a band hungry to add a stamp of originality to the reggae canon, but to anyone who only knows them via their later pop material, this is not evident. That makes Food for Thought a welcome testament to just how good this band were at writing hard-hitting political roots reggae in an era when most reggae-minded Brits were still experimenting with ska punk. Filmed for Germany's Rockpalast TV series in Cologne in 1981, this concert movie features most of the band's first two albums (Signing Off and Present Arms), and is heavily weighted toward their oppositional politics with tracks such as work force farce "One in Ten," the anti-Thatcher "Madam Medusa" and the anti-Empire "Burden of Shame." The seven-piece band look like teenagers here; keyboardist Michael Virtue (credited as playing the awesome-sounding "Tasteninstrumente") and the Campbell brothers are still finding their stage presence, aided greatly by Astro's complete comfort in the spotlight. But the lack of polish only serves to heighten the nostalgia for a band that purportedly only learned to play their instruments a few years previous. (Eagle Rock)