Who You Fighting For?

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The positive steps taken by 2003's Homegrown pay off on Who You Fighting For?, the solidest album from UB40 in well over a decade. Once again, relaxed love songs, covers, and plaintive observations on the everyday struggle are the ingredients, but this time it's the latter that makes the album worth noting for the casual fan and treasuring for the faithful. The title track's disgust and despair over a welcoming, bouncy beat recalls how UB40 and the English Beat used to be neck and neck in the lively revolution race while "War Poem" and "Plenty More" are pleasingly more Signing Off than expected. Just like that pivotal album, Who You Fighting For? features an Eastern-influenced highlight, the hypnotic "Reasons" with Hunterz and the Dholl Blasters. With a fine, miniature cover of Lennon and McCartney's "I'll Be on My Way" and a perfect take on Dennis Bovell's slinky "After Tonight," it becomes obvious that Who You Fighting For? isn't so much a "return to form" but a blend that ties their pop period to the revolutionary early years while looking toward the future. They've attempted this plenty of times and came up with spotty full-lengths, crippled by bad choices and tracks that sounded forced. Inspired and sincere the whole way, Who You Fighting For? is top-shelf UB40.

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