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July 15, 2016

UB40 – Present Arms (1981) – Lp

by Record Facts

UB40 are a British reggae and pop band formed in December 1978 in Birmingham, England.  The ethnic make-up of the band’s original line-up was diverse, with musicians of English, Irish, Jamaican, Scottish and Yemeni parentage.

ub40 - presents arms












Artist:  UB40
Title:  Present Arms
Year:  1981
Format:  LP
Label:  Epic Records
Catalog#  EPC 85126

The band members began as friends who knew each other from various schools across Birmingham. The name “UB40” was selected in reference to the signing-on document issued to people claiming unemployment benefit from the UK government’s Department of Employment at the time of the band’s formation. The designation UB40 stood for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40. The UB40 no longer exists, although the term is still well understood to refer to unemployment claims in the UK. Following a serious assault on Ali Campbell, he received a hefty compensation package which he put towards funding musical instruments for the fledgling band members

Present Arms is the second album by UB40 and was released in 1981. It spent 38 weeks on the UK album charts, reaching number 2. An album of original songs, it spawned two top 20 hits in ‘One in Ten’ and ‘Don’t Let It Pass You By/Don’t Slow Down’.

Like their first album Signing Off, Present Arms contained many socially and politically charged lyrics, from the anti-militant title track to ‘Sardonicus’ which was linked to both President Ronald Reagan and Risus sardonicus, an ironic smile on tetanus victims’ faces, The UK top-ten hit “One in Ten” was an attack on Thatcherism. The album also touches on a subject very dear to UB40’s heart: ‘Lamb’s Bread’ and ‘Don’t Walk On The Grass’ are written as part of the band’s longstanding campaign for the legalisation of cannabis. Musically, the album continued in the heavy, reverb-drenched, mellifluous style of the debut.


Side one
1.  Present Arms    (4:08)
2.  Sardonicus    (4:29)
3.  Don’t Let It Pass You By    (7:45)
4.  Wildcat    (3:04)

Side two
1.  One in Ten    (4:32)
2.  Don’t Slow Down    (4:28)
3.  Silent Witness    (4:15)
4.  Lamb’s Bread    (4:48)

With the original 1981 release was a 12″ single (7″ single in some countries) containing two instrumental tracks.

1.  Don’t Walk on the Grass  (5:07)
2.  Dr X  (5:20)

Read more from UB40

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