UB40-The UB40 Story of Reggae (1999)

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Released 27-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 72:01
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bob Smeaton

Warner Vision
Starring James Brown
Ali Campbell
Robin Campbell
Earl Falconer
Norman Lamont Hassan
Brian Travers
Michael Virtue
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music UB40

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It is sometimes very easy for me to understand why my family forsook the delights of England and emigrated to Australia. When sitting down to review this DVD, I was immediately taken back to those reasons, for UB40 came from a place very close to where I lived in England - and if you have ever been to the Black Country (otherwise known as the West Midlands nowadays), you might well understand why it became the bastion of "white" reggae. It is therefore perhaps appropriate to briefly detail why Birmingham, England was just the right sort of place to truly launch a reggae sound that has brought this peculiarly Jamaican sound to the wide world.

    England of the 1960s was the destination of migrants escaping the ghettos of countries like Jamaica, Pakistan and India. Many of these migrants congregated in the West Midlands, most notably Birmingham and the surrounding towns and cities, including my home town of Wolverhampton. Of course, these migrants brought with them the music of their homelands, and for the Jamaicans that meant ska music, which mutated through rock steady to what is now reggae. As this music pervaded the pubs and clubs, as well as the streets, of Birmingham, it naturally came to the attention of the local "white" population and soon enough became the staple music of much of the younger population of what is not one of the great cities of England. It also became the method of escape from the city for the eight young lads who gathered around Moseley in Birmingham and formed a band named after the unemployment form that they had excellent credentials in completing.

    This then is an interesting documentary, made for television, of the rise of that bunch of eight young lads known as UB40 and the influence they have had on the genre of music known as reggae, as well as the people who had an influence upon them. It is comprised of a nice mix of interview material with the band members, filmed live performances of the band and filmed studio performances, occasionally with such influences as Winston Groovy, Ken Boothe and John Holt. Add to that some video footage of such famed reggae performers as Bob Marley and The Wailers and Toots and The Maytals, and this becomes a rather fascinating romp through the story of reggae. Along the way we also get to hear some of the great music that UB40 have produced over the years, in performances that vary from being short snippets to almost complete performances. The most complete tracks on offer are as follows:

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Track Listing

1. One In Ten
2. The Time Has Come
3. Soul Rebel
4. Labour Of Love
5. Red, Red Wine
6. Mr Fix It
7. Someone Like You
8. My Best Girl
9. The Train Is Coming

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Allowing for the fact that some of the source material is rather archival stuff, and allowing for the fact that some of the footage suffers somewhat from a bit of grain, this actually turned out to be a better than expected transfer. Apart from the archival material, the transfer is very sharp and very well detailed. There is no evidence of any falsity in the transfer either in this regard. Shadow detail is quite excellent and clarity is generally excellent as well. The only real downer on the whole transfer is the presence of some grain on occasions during the not quite so old archival footage. There is no evidence of any low level noise problems in the transfer.

    Ignoring the occasionally ropey archival material, this is an excellent transfer as far as colour goes too. Whilst Birmingham is hardly the most colourful place on earth (hint - it's in the Black Country), this is an exceedingly natural looking transfer with a high degree of vibrancy in the main. The recent material is really excellent stuff indeed and suffers not at all from oversaturation - the saturation here is pretty well spot on. There is no evidence of colour bleed in the transfer.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. The only indication of any film-to-video artefacts in the transfer is some aliasing in the window grille around the 65:10 mark. There did not appear to be any film artefacts in the transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack.

    The vocals and dialogue come up very clearly and very easy to understand in the transfer. There is no issue with audio sync in the transfer.

    This is another good example of an uncompressed Linear PCM soundtrack, and it suits the programme extremely well. Even the archival material from the 1960s comes up sounding quite decent in this nicely open and clear transfer. Whilst the lack of some percussion through the bass channel is occasionally a little disappointing, for this is the sort of music that benefits from a nice bass line, there is nothing to really complain about here at all. A nice sounding effort indeed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Nothing, absolutely nothing. Whilst the programme is interesting in itself, surely it would have not been impossible to add in a couple of video clips of some of their greatest hits.


    A typical NVC Arts style menu. Nothing really exciting here, but equally with not a whole heap to do anyway.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as we have been able to ascertain, this DVD has not yet graced the Region 1 release sheets. Well, at least we know what they are missing!


    Whilst by no means a great fan of UB40, I have to confess to a modest interest in their reggae music. Nonetheless, UB40 - The UB40 Story Of Reggae is an extremely interesting documentary. Whilst shorter than I would have liked, and certainly there was scope for somewhat more content here, it gives a nice coverage of the band and their influence on a genre in a global sense. Perhaps more than any other act barring maybe the immortal Bob Marley, UB40 brought reggae music to the four corners of the globe. The programme has been given a very good transfer in all respects and this is certainly a highly recommended DVD for anyone remotely interested in music. If this does not get the foot tapping and the hips swaying, you best check in at the local cemetery...

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, August 29, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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