Present Arms is the second album by UB40 and was released in 1981. It spent 38 weeks on the UK album charts, reaching number 2. An album of original songs, it spawned two top 20 hits in One In Ten and Don't Let It Pass You By/Don't Slow Down.
Like their first album Signing Off, Present Arms contained many socially and politically charged lyrics, from the anti-militant title track to Sardonicus which was linked to both then-President Ronald Reagan and "rises sardonicus," an ironic smile on tetanus victims' faces, the UK Top 10 hit One in Ten was an attack on Thatcherism. The album also touches on a subject very dear to UB40's heart: Lamb's Bread and Don't Walk On The Grass are written as part of the band's longstanding campaign for the legalization of marijuana. Musically, the album continued in the heavy, reverb-drenched, mellifluous style of the debut.
The title track has been used to open UB40 concerts from the mid 1990's onwards, usually with the blasting horn section beginning the concert.
As with Signing Off, Present Arms was critically acclaimed and commercially successful in the UK. A dub version of this album called Present Arms In Dub was released soon after.
This was one of several truly excellent early albums by UB40, long before they struck gold with the Labour of Love covers albums. Back when this album was first released in 1981, UB40 were making some very inspired and creative reggae music with a few dub touches in many of their songs. The grooves were deep and the songs were long. Once again, this sound is miles away from the pop-like feel of Labour of Love, but addictive on a whole different level. A must-have for your reggae collection.