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This was written and first recorded by Neil Diamond. His original version first appeared on his 1967 album Just For You (Bang 217) and was produced by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (a.k.a. The Raindrops of "The Kind Of Boy You Can't Forget" fame). Neil's version of the song (Bang single 556) peaked at #62 over a three-week run in April, 1968.
The lyrics sing the praises of wine, and its ability to make you forget your problems. Diamond wrote another song about red wine in 1970 with Cracklin' Rosie
UB40 recorded this as a cover of the Tony Tribe 1969 Reggae version, which reached #46 in the UK charts. The band did not realize until after it topped the charts that Neil Diamond wrote it and originally recorded it. Lead singer Ali Campbell recalls in the book 1000 UK #1 Hits: "The funny thing about the song is we only knew it as a Reggae song. We had no idea that Neil Diamond wrote it." Terence "Astro" Wilson, confirmed: "Even when we saw the writing credit which said N. Diamond, we thought it was a Jamaican artist called Negus Diamond or something."
This was re-issued in the States after DJ Guy Zapoleon at KZZP-FM in Phoenix, Arizona included the song on his "Would've Been, Should've Been" feature. There was such a positive response that he urged the record company to re-issue the single. Within a few weeks the song had climbed to the top of the charts. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
UB40's recording reached #34 in the US in 1984 when it was released on A&M 2600. In 1988, it was reissued as a longer version with a rap by Terence "Astro" Wilson, and finally hit #1.
The song also hit #70 for Vic Dana (Liberty 56163) in 1970. (thanks, Gary - Los Angeles, CA, for above 2)
The album Labour Of Love
was a collection of cover songs. In 1985, they did a popular cover of "I Got You Babe
" with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders.
The band's name comes from the letters and numbers of the form issued to unemployed people in Britain so that they may receive benefits (Unemployment Benefits form 40). (thanks, Micheal - Columbia, MD)
In the film clip the lead singer is actually drinking beer not red wine at all. (thanks, Dave - Canberra, Australia)
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