UB40 Headed for Doha
From 21 to 24 January, sport lovers, golf fans and families will gather once again to witness some of the highest ranked players in the world descend upon Doha for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, and this year UB40 will be putting on the Friday night concert. The internally renowned reggae act boasts over 70 million record sales and will be performing some of their classics for us. Ahead of their stage turn, we get the scoop from lead singer Ali Campbell…
Do you receive much critical acclaim from within the reggae community?
Yeah! We always have done. UB40 was always accepted by Jamaicans and Jamaican musicians. It was only white middle-class journalists that had a problem.
What was it that made you so passionate about the music and about taking it out of Birmingham to the world?
We all grew up in Birmingham where there’s a large West Indian community and there were always blues house parties. We’d sneak out of our bedrooms, run down the road, listen to some music for a couple of hours then sneak back in. Sometimes we got caught but it didn’t really matter because the music was so infectious that, to me, it was worth getting told off or even having a beating for.
You were huge phenomenon in the Eighties with hits like I Got You Babe. Do you talk much about the old days?
Not really ’cos we’re still living it. We didn’t grow up… it’s very strange.
You haven’t had to slow down a little?
Now we go to bed at a decent hour because the body doesn’t bend like it used to. Other than that nothing has really changed. We’re still the same people with the same interests.
Internationally, Bob Marley is bigger than The Beatles. Is that a fair assertion?
Not everybody understands English but a bassline can contain more than a thousand words. Reggae’s a universal language that everyone can understand.
What current music can you recommend from the reggae world?
I absolutely love Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated. It’s great that a hip-hop giant like him is discovering reggae music.
Why do you think that rap became so big in the US and reggae stayed more niche?
Black Americans couldn’t really identify with Rastafari. It’s only now that people like Snoop are saying, “We get it now”.
When you think about it, and draw comparisons to other bands that started out in the Eighties, it’s incredible that UB40 lasted this long
We’re just starting out!
INFO: Get your tickets for a full day of the Qatar Masters on Fri 23 Jan and see UB40 live; tickets cost QR250, from Virgin Megastores, Doha Golf Club and Doha Rugby Club or www.virginmegastore.ae. Thanks to Esquire Middle East for this extract.