Red Red Wine

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"Red Red Wine"
Single by Neil Diamond
from the album Just for You
B-side "Red Rubber Ball"
Released 1968 (1968)
Format 7"
Genre Reggae
Length 2:42
Label Bang
Writer(s) Neil Diamond
Producer(s) Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich
Neil Diamond singles chronology
"New Orleans"
(1968)
"Red Red Wine"
(1968)
"Brooklyn Roads"
(1968)

"Red Red Wine" is a song written and originally recorded by American artist Neil Diamond. The lyrics are sung from the perspective of someone who finds drinking red wine the only way to forget his woes.

The song has been covered by Tony Tribe, Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, and more famously by British reggae group UB40, whose version topped the U.S. and UK singles charts. Diamond's version reached number sixty-two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968. Diamond later performed a UB40-inspired version of the song on tour. This version was released on Diamond's The Greatest Hits (1966-1992).

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1969) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 62

UB40 version[edit]

"Red Red Wine"
Single by UB40
from the album Labour of Love
B-side "Sufferin'"
Released August 20, 1983 (1983-08-20)
1988 (re-release)
Format 7", 12"
Genre Reggae
Length 5:21 (1988 single/album version)
3:01 (1983 single edit)
Label DEP International (UK)
A&M (US)
Producer(s) UB40, Ray "Pablo" Falconer
UB40 singles chronology
"I've Got Mine"
(1983)
"Red Red Wine"
(1983)
"Please Don't Make Me Cry"
(1983)

UB40 made their rendition for their cover versions album Labour of Love. According to the band they were only familiar with Tony Tribe's version (apparently they didn't realise that the writer - credited simply as "Diamond" - was in fact Neil Diamond), and their version featured a lighter, reggae-style flavor compared to Diamond's somber, acoustic ballad. The UB40 version adds a toasted verse by UB40 member Astro, opening: "Red Red Wine, you make me feel so fine/You keep me rocking all of the time" — which was edited from the single that reached number one in the UK chart in August 1983, and number 34 in the U.S. in March 1984. In 1988, the song was rereleased as a single in the U.S., this time including the Astro toast, and climbed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Chart performance (UB40 version)[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[1] 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[2] 5
Canada (RPM) 2
Germany (Media Control Charts)[3] 12
Ireland (IRMA) 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[4] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[5] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[6] 10
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[7] 14
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[8] 8
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company) 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 34
Chart (1988) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"Give It Up" by KC & The Sunshine Band
UK number-one single
3 September 1983 - 17 September 1983 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club
Preceded by
"Love Bites" by Def Leppard
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
15 October 1988 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"A Groovy Kind of Love" by Phil Collins

Other cover versions[edit]

Jimmy James and The Vagabonds released a cover version the same year as Diamond's version, for the UK market. It charted at number thirty-six.

Tony Tribe, a Jamaican rocksteady singer, recorded a reggae-influenced version in 1969 which reached number forty-six in the UK Singles Chart.[9] The song was also covered in 1969 by swamp rock/pop artist Charles Mann.

In 1970, a cover by Vic Dana became a minor Billboard Hot 100 hit, peaking at #74 and reached #30 on Adult Contemporary. In early 1972, country singer Roy Drusky enjoyed a Top 20 hit with his cover version, reaching #17 in US Country and #16 in Canada Country.

The Hobos did a cover of this song on their 2004 double album Radio Jah Jah. "Red Red Wine" was also performed by Peter Tetteroo, former singer of Tee Set, a Dutch band, in 1968. The song has also been performed by Cas Haley along with UB40 on the last episode of the season 2 show America's Got Talent.

In 2001, singer Elan Atias released a dancehall version on the Buy Out Riddim instrumental, best known performed by Sean Paul, with the song entitled, "Like Glue". This was the first time the song was performed on a totally different instrumental tracking. The lyrics were also re-written. In 2008, Sizzla also released a dancehall single ("No Time To Gaze") based on the UB40 version.

In August 2012, Ballyhoo!'s lead singer was requested to perform an acoustic version based on the UB40 version, and posted it on Soundcloud.

References[edit]