Apr 13

PATO BANTON – “Baby Come Back”

Popular44 comments • 4,609 views

#712, 29th October 1994

m98940iffzd(This review was originally written as “UB40 ft PATO BANTON” not “PATO BANTON” which actually makes a material difference to my commentary – see “EDIT” section below)

So, the Friday before last was the day that Popular died. Not in terms of its updates – feeble though they’ve been again – but it saw the end of the backbone of Popular, an ancient and unbacked-up hard drive which housed the corpus of MP3s I’ve been writing about, downloaded in a great gobble ten years ago and rarely updated, save when wrong. When I bagged and tagged this horde I had barely heard of torrents or streams – so their loss (and the vanishing of all my other music) is an irritation, and a liberating one at that, more than a tragedy.

But apt, I guess, that this should happen as it’s time to write up a song about materialism. Not in its original, Equals form, but Pato Banton’s scene-saving guest spot here puts a wicked spin on the song’s one-track narrator. “Come back! Yes with mi colour TV and mi CD collection of Bob Marley”. It’s a fine approach to the becoming-obligatory guest verse – an undermining counterpoint to Ali Campbell, taking the song’s Point-of-View on a heel turn. OK, as unreliable pop narrators go it’s hardly subtle, but Banton’s funny, unflashy presence makes “Baby Come Back” easily the most tolerable UB40 Number One.

(Also – is this the most explicit drugs reference so far to go unbanned? “Bag of sensi” is one of the items Pato’s lover has made off with and I can never remember hearing a radio edit.)

Banton takes on his duties with relish, and just as well: the rest of the record is a rather sorry effort. It’s brisk enough – it stomps rather than grooves, and busybodies you onto the dancefloor, but the Equals version did something similar. Ali Campbell’s delivery is more painful than ever, though: a strained bellow with a terrible fear of consonants. If ever there was a man who needed to be sidelined from his own song, it’s Campbell, and we can be thankful Pato Banton was on hand to do the unpleasant job.

(EDIT: As pointed out in the comments thread, this is NOT a UB40 song, except inasmuch as it has Ali Campbell and UB40 on it – it was supposedly just credited to Pato Banton and I was sure enough in my memory that I didn’t check Wikipedia, or anywhere else. Mea culpa! But that makes this a very strange single – is there any other non-remixed number one where the credited artist is on it so little? It’s a fair reflection of the division of quality on the record, however.)



  1. 1
    JLucas on 17 Apr 2013 #

    It’s funny, I often forget this was UB40 at all and subconsciously assume it was just Pato. Textbook example of how to steal a record.

  2. 2
    MBI on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Wikipedia labels Pato as the main artist, which, listening to it, makes absolutely no sense.

  3. 3
    mintness on 17 Apr 2013 #

    I was going to say, I’ve only ever thought of this as a Pato Banton record – pretty sure it was credited as such on the charts, at least. Looking back, though, even the TOTP performance clearly incorporates UB40 (and isn’t 1990s Ali Campbell reminiscent of 2010s Stewart Lee?), so I’m not sure why my brain would have chosen to classify the whole venture under “B”.

    5 might be a smidge generous for me, it hasn’t aged well. Not unpleasant, though.

  4. 4
    flahr on 17 Apr 2013 #

    The Official Charts website credits it to Pato Banton & the Reggae Revolution, Kutner & Leigh to Pato Banton ft. Ali & Robin Campbell. I await Marcello’s denunciation of both of these sources as Stalinist rewriters of pop history with bated breath.

  5. 5
    flahr on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Oh, right, the song. The Campbells go at it with tooth-grinding intensity and authenticity but it’s Pato who actually makes anything of it, and the song itself is a good choice for him to do his thing over. However, there is a fair amount of time when he’s not saying anything, much to the song’s detriment. Quintessentially 4.

    And surely ‘bag of sensi’ refers to his collection of Sensible Soccer games for the Amiga which his lover has so unkindly departed with. Sadly I fail to recall if the Dull Things XI included a player called UB40.

  6. 6
    Billy Hicks on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Is this the first number 1 to mention the compact disc in the lyrics? We’ve got six years until a certain bunnied figure mentions mp3 downloads in their equivalent milestone chart topper, and surely Mousse T’s ‘Horny’ narrowly misses out being the first to mention the internet in ’98, although it stalled at #2.

    Anyone know the first #1 to mention records or tapes? For the former I can’t think of anyone before Dead or Alive, although surely I’m missing something major…

  7. 7
    Billy Hicks on 17 Apr 2013 #

    (Other possible technology milestones – an infamous 2011 bunny bagging “Tweeting” and “Youtubing”, although for “Facebook” I can only think of two #5 hits by N-Dubz (2009) and Aggro Santos (2010) respectively. “iPhone” gets surely its first top 3 appearance on Wiley’s ‘Can You Hear Me? (Ayayaya)’ late last year. Someone, somewhere, might find all this useful, I dunno :p)

  8. 8
    lonepilgrim on 17 Apr 2013 #

    I’m not a huge fan of the original song, let alone the processed, click-tracked version that UB40 have produced here. I’m not as impressed with Pato Banton’s toasting as others seem to be. There’s a subversive humour to it which is appealing but to my ears it lacks the richness and flow of other MCs.

  9. 9
    James BC on 17 Apr 2013 #

    It’s a perfect performance here from Pato in the role of hapless, loveable idiot. You have to sympathise with the guy, but there is no way she will be coming back and quite rightly.

    I’d always credited this to “Pato Banton ft Ali and Robin Campbell”. It was certainly on a Pato Banton album and, I’m pretty sure, never on a UB40 one.

  10. 10
    Cumbrian on 17 Apr 2013 #

    For what it’s worth, the sleeve says Pato Banton featuring Ali and Robin Campbell of UB40.


    Are we done with UB40 now? Their run on Popular (in whatever guise) of 4 #1s reminds me of the scene in Bull Durham where the manager tries to scare his team into a performance: “What’s our record Larry?” “8 and 16” “8 and 16 – how did we ever win 8? It’s a miracle”. How on earth did UB40 manage to get 4 UK #1s? Obviously, someone (up there?) likes them.

    This probably is better than the other 3 – and it’s largely due to Pato Banton, as has already been pointed out by others – but I’m not for this by any stretch of the imagination.

  11. 11
    Mark G on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Actually, even without Pato Banton’s rap, it’s probably the least painful UB40 cover version since “I think it’s going to rain today”

  12. 12
    Tom on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Re. all – I trusted my memory and did not check Wikipedia and look where it got me! Anyhow, I’ve amended the entry, though the review basically stands.

    #8 I’m not saying Pato B is a ragga heavyweight here, don’t get me wrong – just that he saves an otherwise ropey track from complete purgatory.

  13. 13
    Mark G on 17 Apr 2013 #

    “is there any other non-remixed number one where the credited artist is on it so little?”

    Yes, there’s a massive bunnyable one here. Will say no more, apart from the ‘non-featured artist’ limits himself to walking/jogging a lot in the video.

  14. 14
    Cumbrian on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Oh – Tom has edited his review. My apologies for re-iterating this.

  15. 15
    Kat but logged out innit on 17 Apr 2013 #

    This was on the radio SO MUCH that I got thoroughly sick of it. I had already taken against UB40 after the slog of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ and Campbell’s voice is nails down the blackboard for me. HOWEVER saying all that, I love the ‘ev-er-ey time I think of my Liza, water come in my eye-AH!‘ bit, which is so sunny and cheerful and triumphant for someone who is meant to be upset! Totally rescues the song.

  16. 16
    James BC on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Re Number 1s where the credited artist is barely on it.

    Pump Up The Volume by M/A/R/R/S is sort of a contender, since I think M/A/R/R/S started out as a collaboration between two groups who ended up more or less just doing one side of the single each with minimal contributions from the other. So whichever half of M/A/R/R/S it was, was hardly on the side of the single that everyone was buying it for.

    Yesterday by the Beatles doesn’t feature much by three of the Beatles either.

  17. 17
    ciaran on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Not a top class Number 1 but slightly better than most of the others covered in 1994 so far.Worthy of a 6 in my book.

    I wouldnt have rated either artist a being greater than the other as I’ve always thought they both contribute well to it.It didnt hurt Pato B having UB40 on board with peoples affection for them and UB40 benefitting from the ragga boom of the year before.

    I know that Ali Campbell is seen as the devil round here and with IGYB and ICHFILWY Iit’s hard to argue with that view but this is his perhaps his least annoying performance in the popular UB40 entries (though I dont mind Red Red Wine myself).The higher tempo of BCB than the other 3 works in his favour here more so than the plodding nature of the rest.

    The one thing I picked up on from searching for the video on youtube was that every UB40 number 1 video par the hynde duet showed the band in black and white/colourless. would be a fitting image for many round here mind you.

    can slightly recall both campbell and pato b follow ons from this.Campbell’s being a dire duet ‘that look in your eye’ and pato banton and ranking roger’s playful ‘bubbling hot’ from 1995.havent heard both in a long time and I imagine havent been played on the radio much if indeed ever since.

    For the kicking that rap/hip hop is sometimes on the receiving end from detractors as ‘stealing other peoples songs’ reggae’s big hits have included more than their fair share of covers or samples too I must add.

  18. 18
    Mark G on 17 Apr 2013 #

    #16, A.R.Kane did the guitar/solos on the a-side, you’d miss them if they weren’t there. and “Yesterday” wasn’t a single until 1976 or thereabouts.

  19. 19
    thefatgit on 17 Apr 2013 #

    For what it’s worth, Pato Banton is a well known face in the West Midlands’ reggae/ska scene. He was credited as a contributor on UB40’s “Baggariddim”. If memory serves, he recorded something with Ranking Roger back in the early 80’s, although I can’t think for the life of me what it was called. Anyway, I digress.

    “Baby Come Back” by Pato Banton (with Ali & Robin Campbell) according to:

    It’s not a particularly remarkable version of The Equals’ song with Pato running awfully close to Lenny Henry style self-parody, but staying the right side of it, by which I mean he’s accentuating his JA roots rather than making his style of delivery an affectation, as Lenny seems to do. As this was sold as a Pato Banton song, then why so much of that trademark UB40 sound in the structure? UB40’s still sizeable army of fans would have recognised it, the moment they heard it on the radio, and I suspect bought this in droves, irrespective of whether Pato was the credited main artist or not. After all, the main beneficiary of this getting back to #1 was Eddy Grant, no? Pato would have been the next beneficiary for his toasting, thus getting the top billing on the sleeve.

  20. 20
    ciaran on 17 Apr 2013 #

    No single sleeve for this Tom?

  21. 21
    Tom on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Snowed under @work, will rectify or another ed can

  22. 22
    swanstep on 17 Apr 2013 #

    This one’s new to me, and gawd it’s weak. I mean, the underlying song as per The Equals strikes me as a bit barked and numb-skulled (so why cover it?), and then UB40’s arrangement is just awful: Tempo’s wrong, no feel in the rhythm section, Campbell’s diction is horrendous, and the toasting does little for me (just assorted rastaman cliches as far as I can tell). Only the brass parts are for me kind of fun/a highlight. About the best that I can say about BCB is that it’s a lot more palatable than UB40’s ghastly Elvis cover. (Red Red Wine continues to strike me as the pick of UB40’s run of cover #1s). NZ has always been a happy hunting ground for UB40: Food for Thought did 4 weeks at #1 back in the day, the wretched Elvis cover did 11(!) weeks at #1 (oh the shame), and BCB did 4 weeks at the top. Anyhow, from me a:

  23. 23
    Tom on 17 Apr 2013 #


    If someone has the ACTUAL SINGLE MIX of the next number one – i.e. the 1994 issue people were buying in shops – could they let me have it or point me to it on YT/Spotify? Even before the hard drive crash I had about 6 mixes of it and it would be good to be certain I’m talking about the right one.

  24. 24
    Chelovek na lune on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Weak. Better than a KWS cover version. And IMHO really not better than numerous UB40 cover versions of the preceding years (“Kingston Town”, especially). And Pato’s contribution is really not so great.

    A tedious record: a wretched, tedious record would be ever so slightly to overstate the case, but it is a pointless cover that, a few rap lines here and there notwithstanding, neither ameliorates or substantially alters the original. At least later on this sort of stuff would end up as merely a waste of bits, rather than of vinyl (or CD material).

    A three will have to do. And that would be a generous three.

  25. 25
    D.C. Harrison on 17 Apr 2013 #

    #19 – Pato Banton appeared on the Beat’s Special Beat Service album (1982), a song called “Pato and Roger a Go Talk”. Probably my least favourite moment on an otherwise very good album.

    12 years from a chart debut to first big hit is a fair old bit of dues paying. I remember the video for this being everywhere, and the 12-year-old me being fairly impressed with him jumping into the TV to join Ali and Rob on their Ready Steady Go expy.

    Then Pato appeared on a song with Sting (who later joked he thought he was an Irishman called Pat O’Banton) and that was the last I heard of him. Still, this song was OK, helped by maybe hearing this before the original. I’d give it a 5.

  26. 26
    Tom on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Oh, also, as promised this is the first song I played to my 6 year old, and his response was not terribly detailed. “It’s good. It’s a party song.” He says it’s a 6.

  27. 27
    MikeMCSG on 17 Apr 2013 #

    #6 Stand And Deliver – “the devil take your stereo and record collection”.

    As for tapes there’s an indirect reference in VKTRS – “we can’t rewind we’ve gone too far”.

    Plus another bit of obsolete technology in I Don’t Like Mondays – “The Telex machine is kept so clean”

  28. 28
    Matt DC on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Does this represent the last hurrah of the early 90s pop reggae boom? There’s one from 1995 that qualifies but that’s starting to move into a different place entirely.

  29. 29
    Chelovek na lune on 17 Apr 2013 #

    (Is immediately horrified at the thought of a couple of 1995 number ones – by the same “artist” as each other – being played to children at all – and not only because of their negligiable musical value)

    Not sure if this was mentioned here earlier, or I picked up a link to it some place else, but this blog http://neggae.wordpress.com/ has some pretty thoughtful reviews of a lot of the reggae stuff from this period, although actually I don’t recall if they bothered with this one or not.

  30. 30
    James BC on 17 Apr 2013 #

    #25 After the song with Sting (I can do the “guiding star” rap from memory) there was another Ranking Roger collaboration called Bubbling Hot, but I don’t think it sold very well.

    I remember an angry letter being sent to Channel 4 teletext (which had really good music coverage) saying “Why does Pato Banton not do a song on his own? Does he think he can get to the top by piggybacking on other people’s talent?” So this must have been before guest spots were quite established – I can only imagine how irate Ma$e, Sean Paul, Flo Rida and the rest must have made that person in the years that followed.

  31. 31
    weej on 17 Apr 2013 #

    * If this is a ‘featuring’ you wouldn’t expect the first listed artist to wait until the second verse to start or to be so low in the mix.
    * In fact, Pato’s vocals seem to last no more than perhaps 40 seconds in total – the only place he features heavily is the video.
    * Still, probably the best UB40 #1. Not a lot of competition there though.

  32. 32
    anto on 17 Apr 2013 #

    A friend of mine who was at Manchester Uni around 2000 went to a bar one night where Pato Banton was appearing live. He opened his show with “Baby Come Back” and he closed it with er.. “Baby Come Back”.
    The fleeting manner of pop fame in a nutshell.

    Genuinely surprised at the score on this one. Even a 5 seems flattering. This strikes me as UB40 bagging themselves another number one by blanding out an old hit yet again. Not the most noble formula, but blimey it worked. The rather incompetent young Pato merely a decoy.

  33. 33
    Auntie Beryl under the radar on 17 Apr 2013 #

    For me there’s a general feeling of this one being a little late to the party. It’s a good 15 months after the 1993 summer peak of the pop-reggae revival; it’s the last time we’ll see UB40 in a Popular billing (one wonders why the entire band weren’t credited – perhaps the seeds of the eventual split were sown here as Ali Campbell’s first solo album would be released not long after).

  34. 34
    Vince Modern on 17 Apr 2013 #

    #29 Thanks Chelovek, I’m Vince the owner of the Neggae (90s reggae, or ‘not quite’ reggae) blog. We’re coming up to Baby Come Back shortly; we’re currently in April 1994 with this week’s review of CJ Lewis’ ‘Sweets for my Sweets’.

    We (the Neggae Elders) believe the 90s Reggae phenomenon climaxed with in the summer of 94 with this Baby Come Back, the culmination of some pretty big hitters from April onwards:

    C J Lewis  Sweets For My Sweet 3   Apr-94
    Ace Of Base  Don’t Turn Around 5   Jun-94
    Aswad   Shine 5 Jun-94
    Big Mountain  Baby I love your way 2   Jun-94
    Dawn Penn  No No No 3  Jun-94
    China Black  Searching 4  Jul-94
    Red Dragon  Compliments On Your Kiss 2  Jul-94
    Pato Banton  Baby Come Back 1  Oct-94

    There were so many Neggaefied cover versions by 1994, and Baby Come Back is the epitome of this style. A Synthetic reproduction complete with digitalised horns, metronomic drums and quadruple-tracked, EQed to the hilt vocals. Kids lapped it up, so did mums and dads. It was the soundtrack to 90s school discos and social clubs.
    I’d give it an 8, perhaps with a hint of sentimentality due to being (IMHO) the beginning of the end of Neggae.

    Thanks to anyone that’s read our nonsense today – and thanks Tom for inspiring my friends and I to document this era (watch out for the BBC4 Friday night docco surely in the pipeline.)

  35. 35
    James BC on 17 Apr 2013 #

    The neggae blog is brilliant!

  36. 36
    Lazarus on 17 Apr 2013 #

    I wouldn’t put China Black in the same company though – it sounds more like Charles & Eddie/Simply Red/Lighthouse Family territory to me. Not much to say about Pato Banton or UB40 that hasn’t been said already to be honest. The Brumsters did have some good original material didn’t they – One in Ten, King/Food for Thought, Earth Dies Screaming, Please Don’t Make Me Cry, Sing Our Own Song … but their four number ones were all with already-familiar songs. And when the songwriting royalties dried up and there was a big group to provide for, money troubles hit. Pato was releasing records as recently as 2008; there seems to be some confusion as to whether he was born in Jan 1960 or October 1961.

  37. 37
    chelovek na lune on 17 Apr 2013 #

    Now, China Black’s “Searching”: that was a tune and a half; and even takes me back to when Kiss FM was both legal and not aimed at social and moral delinquents, as it becames. I think I’d still categorise it as near, or 90s, lovers rock (novers rock?), rather than neggae, though. How about a big up for Carroll Thompson, anyway?

  38. 38
    Izzy on 18 Apr 2013 #

    From memory the TOTP performance was Pato doing his thing for a bit, then bopping around on his own for the rest while a recording of UB40 played on a tiny screen. I also remember it being fairly amusing.

  39. 39
    Billy Hicks on 19 Apr 2013 #

    #23 – I’ve sent you an email. Basically the 1992 release, the 1994 re-release and music video confusingly use three different edits, although the sound of the track itself is (mostly) thankfully the same in all three, it’s just what they include that’s different. Hope it’s helped!

  40. 40
    fivelongdays on 19 Apr 2013 #

    I was 12 in 1994 so, as I think I’ve said before, we’ve got the usual adolescent marks inflation for me over the next 7/8/9 years.

    Bearing that in mind, I bought this. I can’t remember if it was while it was at number one, or whether it was just before it got to number one, but 12-year-old me really liked it.

    Listening back, it is likeable. The Campbells don’t sound as pained as they usually do – as someone said, that mght be because it’s a more upbeat tune – and PB’s bit it awfully good fun.

    I remember the whole Neggae thing and I guess (esp in the context of Reggaed-up covers, which seemed to be every third song in the top 40 at the time) this was the apotheosis.

    I’d say 6, maybe a 7.

  41. 41
    James BC on 24 Apr 2013 #

    Sorry to hear about your hard drive, Tom, by the way. It takes an admirable mindset to see something like that as liberating.

  42. 42

    I saw a copy of this in a charity shop today and can confirm that the spine merely credits Pato Banton (presumably for space reasons) though the Campbell brothers get their sub-credit on the front.

    The Sunshine Band aren’t on ‘Give It Up’ are they?

  43. 43
    Erithian on 4 Jun 2013 #

    A perfectly amiable song I’m quite happy to spend a few minutes with, and the Campbells in small doses are quite OK. Pato Banton I first recall on Whistle Test in 1985 doing “Mash Up Me Telly” – I think my first reaction was something like “must we fling this trash at our pop kids?” but seeing it again now it’s quite funny – Banton sounding like a lower-gravitas Smiley Culture while a bunch of 80s hairdos stand around thinking “is someone more interesting coming on?”

    But yes, he does add another, likeble, dimension to this one, starring alongside – ha! – a telly. Come to think of it, the video is almost contemporaneous with “Buddy Holly” by Weezer, the Happy Days spoof, and obviously prefigures “Hey Ya” by Outkast – any others that pull this kind of trick, i.e. not just being a stylistic throwback, but setting the band in a 60s studio?

  44. 44
    James BC on 17 Sep 2013 #

    The Neggae blog’s caught up with this now – review here:

    They give it 9 out of 10, which is the very least that one of the defining tracks of the movement deserves.

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