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Red Red Wine

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Title: Red Red Wine  
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Subject: Neil Diamond, UB40, Labour of Love, The Very Best of UB40, Love Bites (Def Leppard song)
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Red Red Wine

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

"Red Red Wine" is a song written, performed and originally recorded by American artist Neil Diamond in 1967, included on Neil's second Bang Records album "Just For You". The lyrics are sung from the perspective of someone who finds drinking red wine the only way to forget his woes.

When Neil left the Bang Records label in 1968, Bang continued to release Neil Diamond singles, often adding newly recorded instruments and background vocals to album tracks from the two Neil Diamond albums that Bang had issued. For the "Red Red Wine" single, Bang added a background choir without Neil's involvement or permission. 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. The original album version was released on Diamond's The Greatest Hits (1966-1992) but the 1968 single version has never been issued on a vinyl album or CD. 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. Tony Tribe covered the song in 1969 in a reggae-influenced style. UB40 covered the song in 1983 in a lighter reggae-style.


  • Chart performance 1
  • UB40 version 2
    • Charts 2.1
    • Certifications 2.2
    • Chart successions 2.3
  • Other cover songs 3
  • References 4

Chart performance

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

UB40 version

"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), 1989
Recorded 1982
Genre Reggae fusion
Length 5:20
Label DEP International (UK)
A&M (US)
UB40 singles chronology
"I've Got Mine"
"Red Red Wine"
"Please Don't Make Me Cry"

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 (they apparently didn't realise that the writer, credited simply as "Diamond", was in fact Neil Diamond), and their version featured a lighter, reggae-style flavour compared to Diamond's sombre, 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 United States in March 1984.

In 1988, the song was re-released as a single in the U.S., this time including the toast from Astro as he performed it at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert a few months prior to its release. The single climbed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In September 2014 the Official Charts Company announced that sales in the UK had reached 1 million.[1]

Songwriter Neil Diamond has stated this as one of his favourite covers of his songs.[2] During his 2015 concert tour, he performed the song similarly to the UB40 reggae version, complete with rap in the middle (but with different lyrics).


Chart (1983–84) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[3] 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[4] 5
Canada (RPM) 2
Germany (Official German Charts)[5] 12
Ireland (IRMA) 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[6] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[7] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[8] 10
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[9] 14
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[10] 8
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[11] 1
US Billboard Hot 100 34
Chart (1988) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 1


Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI) Platinum 1,000,000

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Chart successions

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 songs

Jimmy James and The Vagabonds released a cover version the same year as Diamond's version (1968), 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.[13] 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.


  1. ^ Moss, Liv (22 September 2014). "Now That’s What I Call A Million tracklisting revealed!".  
  2. ^ "Singer/songwriter Neil Diamond here, AMA!".  
  3. ^ " – UB40 – Red Red Wine". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  4. ^ " – UB40 – Red Red Wine" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  5. ^ " – UB40 Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  6. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 39, 1983". 
  7. ^ " – UB40 – Red Red Wine". Top 40 Singles.
  8. ^ " – UB40 – Red Red Wine". VG-lista.
  9. ^ " – UB40 – Red Red Wine". Singles Top 60.
  10. ^ " – UB40 – Red Red Wine". Swiss Singles Chart.
  11. ^ "Archive Chart: 1983-08-28" UK Singles Chart.
  12. ^ "UB40 – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for UB40.
  13. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 565.  
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