Beat Street

UB40: Who You Fighting For?

EMI/Virgin, cassette, Rs. 135

When you name your album Who You Fighting For?, the political overtones are obvious. But that's UB40 for you. Lilting love songs, the political outbursts and some unusual choices of covers, in this case Matumbi and the Manhattans. Twenty-five years after its debut album, Singing Off, the band has gone on to sell more than 50 million records. And still retains the same freshness, joy and simple reggae in its new album. A little tired now? No way, Ali Campbell's vocals are as warm and smooth as ever.

The album takes you straight back to late '70s of unadulterated and pure reggae. It is very rare for a band to maintain the same level of consistency for such a long time. Still the eight-piece combination, the band sounds comfortable and at ease. When you listen to numbers like "Sins Of The Fathers", and "One Woman Man", you hardly realise that they are new; they feel like they have been around for years. The band has such a gift for melody.

But the toughness in the lyrics is evident in the first five numbers — "Who You Fighting For", "After Tonight", "Bling Bling", "Plenty More", and "War Poem" where it talks about everything from ethnic conflict to neutron bombs. The numbers are inspired by current world political situation and are expressed from a very personal viewpoint.

Don't be surprised to hear "tere bin chain na ave, o soniye" in the middle of the album. In perhaps the only indication of breaking new ground, the band has used some Punjabi in "Reasons".

The album ends with two very lovely covers — Manhattan's "Kiss And Say Goodbye", and the Jamaicans' "The Things You Say You Love". Ali Campbell's voice remains the centrepiece but saxophonist Brian Travers deserves credit for his sounds that emphasise the joy in the album. One definitely for the collection.

Beat Street

Audioslave: Out Of Exile

Universal, Cassette, Rs. 150

Audioslave is finally coming to its own. After the debut album in 2002 sounded as if Chris Cornell wrote melodies and lyrics to tracks RATM wrote after the departure of Zack de la Rocha, the band is seeking to dispel the many doubts about it being a genuine rock band. Unlike the first album, in Out Of Exile, all the four members contribute equally to a unified personality.

You can still hear the remnants of RATM (Tom Morello, guitars, Brad Wilk, drums, and Tim Commerford, bass) and Soundgarden (Chris Cornell, vocals and lyrics), but the band is gaining in confidence and the numbers will satisfy all fans.

Barring a couple of wimpy tracks, the numbers are rousing enough. After a slightly sluggish start with "Your Time Has Come" and the title track, the album starts growing into the rock album it is.

"Doesn't Remind Me" is the album's highlight. It is a strummed, lightweight breeze of a tune that explodes into a restrained but vibrant chorus. This is the number where Audioslave has come closest to finding its own identity. The other tracks worth listening to are the loose-limbed "Drown Me Slowly", headbangers ballad "Man Or Animal", Tom Morello's finest minutes "Yesterday To Tomorrow" and the alt rock "Dandelion".

Overall the album is one worth giving an ear to but still lacks the hard rock punch that the bands members were known to produce. They will eventually get there though, if given time.


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