New Commonwealth Games album including UB40 is a 'love letter to Birmingham'

A new all-star album, featuring Birmingham artists UB40 will be released for free in June, to celebrate the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Billed as a love letter to the city, the album, On Record, will feature 11 original songs from Birmingham artists from an array of genres spanning Afrobeat, neo-soul, trip-hop, Asian electronica, folk, garage rock, jazz, reggae, RnB, Hip-Hop and UK rap.

It's part of the £12 million pound cultural programme Birmingham 2022 Festival around the games which starts on the 17th March and runs right through until the end of September.

Speaking at the launch at Symphony Hall where the band performed three of their hits, Robin Campbell said: "We wrote the track specifically for the Commonwealth Games and it's great to have it included on the album.

"Really it's all about celebrating the cultural diversity of Birmingham which is something we've been shouting about for a long time."

Matt Doyle who took over as lead singer last year spoke about the lyrics for the new song.

"It's about positivity really. It's about putting your head in the heads of one of the athletes who've been getting up every day training.

"It's about being uplifted and putting that energy into whatever gets you up in the morning whether it be art or sport or whatever it is."

Robin Campbell added: "Doing what you do best and excelling in it is the whole point, celebrating being a champion."

Because UB40 have been working on an instrumental version for a couple of years, when it comes out in June you'll be able to hear the late Brian Travers on the the track.

Robin said: "It includes horn work from our late member Brian Travers who passed away last year.

"He put the horn line on the track so we decided to keep it even though obviously there are new horn players on it.

"So it's quite poignant for us as it's got Brian's sax on it basically."

In addition to UB40, other artists on the album include Dapz on the Map and SANITY who performed to around a billion viewers during the Commonwealth Games handover from the Gold Coast in Australia to Birmingham in 2018.

Created and produced by Jez Collins of Birmingham Music Archive and Grammy-nominated producer Simon Duggal the album will be available via a limited vinyl release and across all streaming platforms from Saturday 18 June.

He said: "After many months of planning, negotiating, recording, mastering and mixing, we are thrilled to finally announce On Record. 

"In what we believe is the first-ever multi-artist, multi-genre album to be written completely about a city, the highs - and lows - of this great place we call home have been explored and documented through a myriad of styles and lyrics. “The artists on On Record represent Birmingham’s incredibly rich and brilliant music past, present and future, as well as the many and varied cultures and communities of the Commonwealth and beyond who call the city home; we cannot wait to share this fantastic album with music lovers across the globe.”

A new podcast and live event programme, In Conversations, will complement the album.

The Birmingham 2022 festival will include 200 different events and organisers say it will be the biggest cultural event the region has ever seen.

Raidene Carter, executive producer of the Birmingham 2022 festival said: "It's going to be big and exciting. Today we've announced our full programme - a six month creative festival.

"We've got music in this brilliant building (Symphony Hall) through to big outdoor shows on 'Centenary Square. We've got talks, podcasts, films, family shows - really something for everybody.

"What we're really encouraging everyone to do is go on the website and have a look, see what's coming really close to them and come out. Because it's been a really long time for people so really come outside and take part.

"Some people might just think they're into sport and think 'I don't know what this arts and culture stuff is about. Give it a whirl, give it a try and probably there will be something around you for free that you can get involved with."

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