UB40 – Red Red Wine

First Hit #1: October 15, 1988

Every so often I think I don’t like reggae, but then I realize that it’s not the genre I don’t like, but the absolutely bizarre choices that hit the top of the chart. For instance, reggae cover of a Neil Diamond song? That’s a kind of terrible idea, actually, and UB40’s Red Red Wine doesn’t exactly disprove that notion.

To be fair, it’s not egregiously awful, just kind of something I personally wouldn’t like, which was in turn overplayed to hell when I was a kid – I have a feeling I’m going to be saying that a lot over the coming weeks. It’s not a particularly interesting arrangement – it’s kind of a reggae arrangement for dummies sound, all the basic elements thrown together in a pretty basic package. If you’ve never heard a reggae song before, maybe it would be novel and interesting. If you have, it’s just a pretty basic cover and not particularly compelling.

It also fits the ’88 bad breakup narrative, now everyone is drinking away their sorrow.

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One Response to UB40 – Red Red Wine

  1. RBerman says:

    Bob Marley was dead, and reggae was an unfamiliar flavor. So a reggae cover of a decent song, even a by-the-numbers reggae cover, got some novelty traction, a la Bobby McFerrin a few days ago. Sadly, this came out in the days before singles were a popular format for purchase again, meaning that many people bought a whole UB40 album just to hear this one song for a few months. Also, Neil Diamond began performing this song with a reggae beat, showing how pop eats itself.

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