5
Oct 09

UB40 and CHRISSIE HYNDE – “I Got You Babe”

FT + Popular72 comments • 4,251 views

#555, 31st August 1985

An uncannily ill-chosen pairing, this: each manages to cast the other’s vocals in the worst possible light. Ali Campbell sounds, as ever, like a wrung-out flannel, and would be shown up by even a modicum of emotion. But listening to this song you also realise how Chrissie Hynde always gives the same performance too – smoky, world-weary, defiant, and so on. She’s a pro, of course, and still the best thing about the record, and yes, they’re only replicating the wood-and-flowers dynamic of the Sonny and Cher vocal team. But still there’s something vaguely offputting about the fact that she sounds exactly the same singing about missing her home or her dead friends as she does being vocally pawed by Ali Campbell.

Obviously, however pro forma her performance she doesn’t deserve this grim approximation of reggae backing it up. “I Got You Babe” is as stiff, thin, functional and inspiring as a sheet of building site plastic – the clumsy charm of the 1965 original absolutely vanished.

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Comments

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  1. 51

    well they always basically wanted to be mid-doors depeche mode AND THEY HAD THEIR WISH GRANTED

  2. 52
    Conrad on 6 Oct 2009 #

    JAMC were infamous for chaotic 20 minute gigs as I recall.

    I loved the first two JAMC singles (Never Understand in particular) which I discovered while working as a volunteer on a kibbutz incidentally.

    But by the time of their album I felt they’d said all they had to say on those two singles and the LP was a bit of a let down.

    edit – just read the above few posts, so this is rather repeating the point…

  3. 53
    Steve Mannion on 6 Oct 2009 #

    I just had a peek at the rest of the year and wow we have surely entered the worst run of #1s in Popular history to date (later years may yet top it)…

  4. 54
    Ludovic on 6 Oct 2009 #

    Och, I don’t think it’s that bad. Not the worst crime against reggae, by any means. One of its problems, in this humble listener’s opinion, is that it suffers by comparison with the Sonny and Cher original. Ali Campbell’s voice is better than Sonny’s and Chrissie’s is, frankly, not a patch on Cher’s so it all sounds a bit wrong.

    The follow up though, as one other lovely contributor has pointed out, was lovely. If memory serves me correctly(And it frequently does not) it came ‘free’ with the ‘Baggariddim’ album but was still a sizeable hit when released on its own.

  5. 55
    wichita lineman on 6 Oct 2009 #

    Worse crimes against reggae? Yes, but they’re all by UB40 as well.

  6. 56
    Mark M on 6 Oct 2009 #

    Re assorted points above: Never Understand was a proper dizzying pop moment for me – I knew nothing about the Mary Chain before I heard it on the radio and went “what the hell was that?” I was 14, which I guess was about the right age for that reaction, and although I was deeply versed in classic rock, they sounded pretty new to me. They indirectly became my gateway to all sorts of cultural things that the Reid brothers may not (or may) have known about. And as it happens, I still like the production on Psychocandy. I do think, though, that pretty quickly I wanted them to be something other than what they were (ie no leather trews).

  7. 57
    anto on 6 Oct 2009 #

    From Upside Town to Sidewalking the Mary Chain were frequently astounding. I would hold up Psychocandy* as one of the best debut LPs by anyone, not to mention one of the most appropriately named.
    By the way JAMC did breifly straddle the gap between NME cred and pop fame. They appeared on the cover of Smash Hits and popped up on TOTP to perform the glorious “April Skies” in 1987. They were also chucked off ITVs pathetic competitor The Roxy for either taking it too seriously or not seriously enough???? The show was axed soon afterwards.

    * Does anybody else find it odd in ” High Fidelity ” when Jack Black recommends JAMC as complimentary to Echo and the Bunnymen when in reality the two groups sounded nothing like each other?

  8. 58
    swanstep on 7 Oct 2009 #

    re 53: Vaguely relatedly, 1984 was the top average (#4 median) Tom-score year so far (without reweighting for time hits spent at the top). Regression to the mean has been a bear after other peak Tom-score years: 1958, 1966, 1979 (and near-peak 1971), and so far 1985 is following that trend, even without the horrid year end dip that appears to be coming! I hope Tom thinks about producing some stats posts at the end of this year (i.e., to cover up to end of 1985 as a true ‘first half’ of Popular break-down) with proper weighting of hits, and various sorts of moving averages.

  9. 59
    swanstep on 7 Oct 2009 #

    A graph of yearly averages and medians so far is here if anyone’s interested.

  10. 60
    Mark M on 7 Oct 2009 #

    Re 57*: Hair.

  11. 61
    ace inhibitor on 7 Oct 2009 #

    re #59, as things stand then, 1985 was officially, statistically, a better year for pop than 1967. luckily there’s a good chance that the next few weeks will change that.

  12. 62
    admin on 7 Oct 2009 #

    “I hope Tom thinks about producing some stats”

    what are the chances? ;-)

  13. 63
    Tom on 7 Oct 2009 #

    #61 – for number ones at least there’s not a lot to choose from – and generally ’67 was a weird year in Britain: everyone trying to make albums, not many actually good at it yet, our mostly twee take on psychedelia, hitmakers taking their eye off the ball singles-wise and bubblegum, reggae, etc not in place yet to take up the slack…

  14. 64
    punctum on 7 Oct 2009 #

    Like ’81 and ’82, a great year ill-served by its number ones – 1967’s number twos were much better.

  15. 65
    Mark M on 7 Oct 2009 #

    Re 48 (by way of further avoiding thinking about UB40), I found that most of the much vaunted noise of the time sounded “meagre”, not just on the Peel show via a £25 radio/cassete player, but also on vinyl or tape. Swans, for example, to me sounded more like a sullen plod (not so different from UB40, then) than the march of the apocalypse* promised in the press. Live, obviously, was a different matter, but sheer volume is cheap trick.

    *Thouhgh like the Lineman, at point 50, I realised I wasn’t looking for a sonic end of the world, anyway.

  16. 66

    Test Dept’s big theatrical spectacles were often excellent, except on record; Einsturzende made sense once you realised their real shtick was delicacy not (as billed) collapse; Swans — hmmm, yes, I will have to work on this. I believe at the time — ie in about a year’s time, popular-timetable-wise — I could be found arguing that Swans worked best if you played their records at the same time as someone (anyone?) else’s. In an interview with Herbie Hancock: I bet he was pleased when he read it back…

  17. 67
    punctum on 7 Oct 2009 #

    Test Dept worked once on record: 1986’s The Unacceptable Face Of Freedom is one of the records of its decade, in every sense. Visually I concur they were absolutely spectacular and truthful.

    Swans were 1968 Michael Mantler relocated in mopey hell kitchen and all the better for it.

    Incidentally I ran into Eddie Prevost once on an entirely separate occasion from the one mentioned above and he was moaning about TD having ripped AMM off…

  18. 68
    abaffledrepublic on 7 Oct 2009 #

    Chrissie: ‘Neither of us have had a hit for a while. The record-buying public suddenly can’t get enough of the 60s after watching Live Aid. If we team up and record a 60s cover we’ll be quids in.’

    Ali: ‘Last time we did an anaemic cover version the record-buying public fell for it. No reason why they shouldn’t again.’

    If people are going to be as nakedly careerist as this, why can’t they at least produce something worth listening to instead of this turgid waste of vinyl? 2 is about right. Dull, dull, dull.

  19. 69
    AndyPandy on 7 Oct 2009 #

    If the existence of dreary Student Union mediocrity like the Jesus and Mary Chain and their ilk isn’t a very good reason for why Rave had to happen I don’t know what is…

  20. 70
    thefatgit on 8 Oct 2009 #

    I recall a huge amount of hype surrounding JAMC in the music press. I suspect the source of this was Alan McGee himself. I also recall his quote: “I like leather trousers, I think they’re cute”. Psychocandy also featured in Pete Nash’s long running “Striker” comic strip in the Sun(recently ended BTW). It appeared in young Nick Jarvis’ record collection. Odd considering Jarvis was styled after a mid 80’s soccer casual.

  21. 71
    mapman132 on 3 Jan 2015 #

    And we have a winner!

    As for what this song “won”, I’ll have to wait see if Tom creates that contrarian thread I suggested a while back ;)

  22. 72
    mapman132 on 3 Jan 2015 #

    I will, however, concede two points to the consensus:

    1) The version of IGYB in the Youtube video sounds significantly weaker than my MP3 for some reason.

    2) “Running Up That Hill” IS still better than IGYB. Possibly would’ve gotten a 9/10 from me. In a just world, it would’ve succeeded IGYB at #1 rather than the POS that did.

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