Monday, February 16, 2015

UB40: "Labour Of Love" Deluxe Edition 3CD

Rating: Re-issue
Label: Universal 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

"Oh Cherry Oh Cherry Oh Baby". The album that caused all the rude boys and die-hard SKA and Reggae fans to run for the hills. UB40 took some of the finest old skool songs from the late 60's and early 70's and recorded their own mainstream versions. Not to mention doing the wicked reggae arrangement on "Red Red Wine" (#1 hit), as in recorded by Neil Diamond. Originally formed in 1978 in Birmingham 'The Muslim Capitol of Europe according to TV idiots in the US of A', England, "Labour Of Love", number one in the charts, their 4th album release from the year of 1983 and featured 4 Top-20 single hits in the U.K. including above mentioned number one single.

Sporting a rather sterile and clean production not dissimilar to Madness, Roxy Music, or Spandau Ballet of the eighties, it might just not sound raw and proper like all those ska albums of early seventies. And it's a completely different era altogether really so let's not discuss it any further than saying it's the posh version of Eric Donaldson, Bob Marley, Boy Friday, Jimmy Cliff, etc. The too-afraid-to-admit that I enjoy mainstream fan(s) may turn their noses up at this, while the rest of us can slowly groove along to the laid back beat.

The arrangements are light and lovely and Ali Campbell is quite the superb singer. Astro and Hassan on the other hand are keeping it rude by toasting some excellent versions including "Johnny Too Bad". "Version Girl" is the underrated tune and "Cherry Baby" is just perfect bliss. Disc: 2 - singles and b-sides. 7 versions of Red Red Wine and Many Rivers To Cross, not that exciting really. The Dub Mix of "Sufferin" and "Cherry Oh Baby" are on the other hand. The 12 version of "Frilla" is da killa. "I've Got Mine" gets the extended mix and it might just work as your reggae work-out (hey man, stop smoking).

Disc: 3 - the BBC Radio live sessions from April 14, 1983 (Red Red Wine, Don't Make Me Cry) and in concert on January 7th, 1984 (a total of 11 tracks). They start however up the show with "One In Ten" and merely six out of the elven tracks are taken off the 1983 album, so it's stricly not just the Labour Of Love. Credit to UB40 for being the Reggae cross between something old and something new and the excellent live act.

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