Birmingham, England’s Reggae / Pop sensation UB40 was formed in 1978 and is best known for their hugely popular cover songs like Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” (with The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde), Al Green’s “Here I Am (Come And Take Me),” The Temptations’ “The Way You Do The Things You Do” and the worldwide No. 1 hits “Red Red Wine” (originally by Neil Diamond) and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (the 1961 Elvis Presley classic).
But UB40 isn’t just known for its cover songs. Between 1980 and 2005, the band led by Ali Campbell had 40 Top 40 hits in their U.K. homeland, including original gems like 1980’s “Food For Thought,” 1993’s “Higher Ground” and 1986’s brilliant “Rat In Mi Kitchen.”
“Rat In Mi Kitchen” is from UB40’s seventh studio album, RAT IN THE KITCHEN. Though the entire band got the credit for writing “Rat In Mi Kitchen,” it was actually band member, musician and rapper Astro who wrote the song. According to a 2002 piece in the U.K. publication THE TELEGRAPH, Ali Campbell had moved into a new home in Balsall Heath, the working class area of Birmingham, and he had a serious rodent problem.
Astro stopped by to see Ali and asked if he had any song ideas for the new album, and Ali replied, “Oh God, I don’t care about the album for a minute, I’ve got a rat in the kitchen!” Well, that was enough for Astro, and “Rat In Mi Kitchen” was born (Astro also sings lead vocals on the track).
I usually bypass the 3-minute single version because the full 7-minute album version on RAT IN THE KITCHEN just kicks so much ass. And, with the album version, you get a sweet bonus trumpet courtesy of trumpeter extraordinaire and the co-founder of the band’s American label in 1986, A&M Records – Herb Alpert.
“Rat In Mi Kitchen” reached No. 12 in the U.K., and No. 7 in Holland and Ireland. It’s always been a favorite of mine and I love playing the full album version on my little 20-year-old 80s radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine) whenever I can.
I tell you, I am not a fan of rats, and if I ever found a rat in MY kitchen, I guaRONtee I might scream like a little girl. I suppose the same could be said if I heard the album version of “Rat In Mi Kitchen” on the radio that wasn’t my own radio show. I’ve loved UB40 for a long time, but I have to say my appreciation for this song has increased over the years, and has long been my favorite UB40 song – in and out of mi kitchen…