Oct 09

UB40 and CHRISSIE HYNDE – “I Got You Babe”

FT + Popular73 comments • 5,873 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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  1. 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.

  2. 62
    admin on 7 Oct 2009 #

    “I hope Tom thinks about producing some stats”

    what are the chances? ;-)

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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…

  7. 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…

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

  10. 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.

  11. 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 ;)

  12. 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.

  13. 73
    Gareth Parker on 1 May 2021 #

    I feel more favourable to this than Tom, but for me it doesn’t really set the world alight. 5/10.

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