On Tuesday, Corbyn appeared in London with the UB40 led by Robin Campbell, the guitarist and singer from the original Birmingham band which enjoyed dozens of chart hits during the 1980s and 90s, including three UK No 1 singles.
At a press conference at the Royal Society of Arts in London, Campbell said: “We support Jeremy Corbyn because he is the only one willing to speak up for working people, who have been badly treated by successive governments, including New Labour, in recent decades.
Unfortunately for Jeremy Corbyn, there are now two rival UB40s following an acrimonious split a few yeara ago
However, in a microcosm of Corbyn not reflecting all views within Labour, it transpired that this statement did not speak for every version of UB40.
The other band is fronted by Ali Campbell, Robin’s younger brother and the original group’s lead singer, and features other original members Mickey Virtue and Terence “Astro” Wilson. Asked whether they shared the other UB40’s views on Corbyn, the group declined to endorse him.
“Ali, Astro and Mickey have always been great supporters of the Labour party, and they look forward to the new leader taking the Labour party back into government at the earliest opportunity,” the band said in a statement released through their PR company, which said it was the only comment the band wanted to make at this time.
Have UB40 turned into a metaphor for the Labour Party? Where do the two rival Wishbone Ashes and Barclay James Harvests stand on the issue? Has anyone asked Andy Powell, Martin Turner, John Lees or Les Holroyd? Are the Oliver Dawson Saxon or any past or present members of Yes available for comment?
Labour is going to split now, whatever happens. Any leadership election will be about which faction gets to call itself the Labour Party. Classic rock fans will recognise the situation; Angela Eagle’s Labour Party vs. The Labour Party featuring Jeremy Corbyn. Like Barclay James Harvest only without the tunes.
While Powell appears to have the letter of the law on his side at the moment, you’re still left with the impression that he’s shafted his former bandmates.
But I can’t help feeling that it’s long past time for the two of them to bury the hatchet, but there’s so much bad blood I can’t see that ever happening. Since the band’s glory days are long in the past, and both Turner and Powell are trogging round the nostalgia circuit, the whole thing does feel like two bald men fighting over a comb.
After seeing Therion, I was back at Sub89 again the following night to see Wishbone Ash. I’d seen them at Shepherds Bush Empire back in May when supported by Panic Room and Mostly Autumn. The consensus amongst fans was that Mostly Autumn in particular completely stole the show from the headliners. But since this gig was local I though I’d give Wishbone Ash another chance.
By the end of the gig it was clear to me that what happened back in May wasn’t a fluke; While I know I’m a big Mostly Autumn fan and therefore more than a little biased, I still believe Wishbone Ash, despite their higher profile and name recognition ,are simply not in the same league as a live band as their support in May. I’ve seen other veteran bands from Wishbone Ash’s era, most notably Uriah Heep and Blue Öyster Cult who, like Wishbone Ash have just one or two original members left. Those bands can still put on a great show, even now. But sadly the current incarnation of Wishbone Ash falls well short of that.
The biggest single flaw in their sound is that Andy Powell is not a particularly great lead singer. His voice isn’t well suited to the more melodic material from their classic 70s albums. “Argus” songs such as “Throw Down The Sword” and “Warrior” were fine instrumentally, but Andy Powell’s voice sounded strained reaching for the higher notes. This probably explains why the setlist relied rather too heavily on somewhat generic blues-rock material at the expense of many of their classic songs – for example, they didn’t play “The King Will Come”.
That probably sounds unduly harsh – I did still enjoy the gig. At there best, the band could still entertain, and seemed a little more spirited than at Shepherds Bush, We still got some of the lovely twin-guitar harmonies, even if those guitars seldom really cut loose with the sort of stunning soloing of their 70s live albums.
But having seen the Martin Turner Wishbone Ash at High Voltage in August, where it was clear Martin Turner has still got it vocally, I just wish Andy Powell and Martin Turner would bury the hatchet and get back together again.