Red Red Wine – UB40

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………..on October 15th of 1988 UB40 reach #1 on Billboard with their cover of “Red Red Wine”. This was written and first recorded by Neil Diamond. His original version first appeared on his 1967 album Just For You (Bang 217) and was produced by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (a.k.a. The Raindrops of “The Kind Of Boy You Can’t Forget” fame). Neil’s version of the song (Bang single 556) peaked at #62 over a three-week run in April 1968. In the UK, two versions of the song charted in 1969: a soul cover by Jimmy James & The Vagabonds hit #36 (it also made #127 in the US), and a Reggae rendition by Tony Tribe hit #46. UB40, whose members grew up listening to these versions, took it to #1 UK with their 1983 cover. UB40’s original recording reached #34 in the US in March 1984 when it was released on A&M 2600. This version clocked in at 3:00. In 1988, it was reissued as a longer version (5:16) with a rap by Terence “Astro” Wilson, and finally hit #1. This song didn’t take off America when it was first released in 1983, but another reggae tune did: “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant, which hit #2. UB40 bass player Earl Falconer recalls being mistaken for Grant when the band toured in America around this time. In the music video, lead singer Ali Campbell is actually drinking beer, and not red wine. The video was filmed in a local Birmingham, England pub where you wouldn’t want to be caught drinking wine. To avoid hiring extras the band invited guys from a nearby factory to join them at the pub, graciously paying the bar bill in exchange for their services. It was shot in the morning, and by noon, most of these hired hands were blotto. According to various accounts, when they staggered back to work, they were fired on the spot, although later given their jobs back. UB40’s next #1 UK hit came in 1985 with another reggae-tinged cover of a song by an American artist: “I Got You Babe.” They recorded the song with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, who brought them on tour early in their career. This cover also made #28 in America.