UB40 PERFORMS ‘LABOUR OF LOVE IV’ AT HOLLYWOOD HOUSE OF BLUES: Review by Gary Greene
Sept 29th, on a balmy evening in Hollywood, grueling, lingering, long US 30 year celebration world tour, for UB40, still is making their mark. One thing I can say, they have fully developed their own unique style, and any time I hear them play anything, I simply know it’s them. I never tire, and that’s amazing. The band members, headed by Brian Travers, sax, and lead singer, now Duncan (Robin) Cambell, Ali’s brother, who probably would have been the better fit from the beginning, had he not been pursuing other avenues back in the days. Things just work out for the best, don’t they. The rest of the originals were there in full presence all doing their magic – Astro, James, Earl, Norman, Michael and Patrick.
They all seem to blend in melodic , harmonic sensuous rhythmic waves, taking the audience by the hips swaying as ONE… or shall I say ONE LOVE. The band went through their old songs, some of the, “What Are we fighting For?” CD hits, 2 years back. Then did a flurry from the new LABOUR OF LOVE SERIES, number IV (4)… The songs really moved me, some ballad love songs, and a few catchy upbeat REALLY CATCHY.
- NOW a bit about the new CD:
LABOUR OF LOVE IV:
Someone once claimed UB40 are to reggae what the Beatles and Rolling Stones were to American rhythm and blues and as they release the latest installment of their best-selling Labour Of Love series, the truth of this statement is undeniable. Literally millions of people from across the globe have developed a love for Jamaican music after hearing UB40, and the band’s commitment to their early influences is as strong as ever.
The Labour of Love series began in 1983, with a number one album and number one single (‘Red, Red Wine’). This was followed in 1989 by LOL II, which spawned a no.4 single (‘Kingston Town’) and two US Billboard Top 10’s. Another Top 10 album, LOL III, and single (‘Come Back, Darling’) was released in 1998.
‘Labour Of Love IV’ continues what has become a passion for the band; to share their love of reggae classics, some well-known, some not so, with the public-at-large. Recorded at the band’s Reflex Studios in Birmingham in the Spring 2009, the album comprises 14 tracks. Covers such as Delroy Wilson (‘Close To Me’), John Holt songs (‘I Don’t Want To See You Cry’ and ‘Man Next Door’) and Rocksteady vocal groups the Melodians (‘Get Along Without You Now’) and The Paragons (‘Holiday’) bestow this new album with such an infectious sense of joy, it’s hard to believe it’s the fourth in the series and not the first. UB40, just like other dedicated reggae fans, fervently want such artists – including Theo Beckford (‘Easy Snappin”), Errol Dunkley (‘You’re Gonna Need Me’), Ken Parker (‘True True True’) and Hopeton Lewis (‘Boom Shaka Lacka’), who also contribute songs to Labour Of Love IV – to receive more recognition, and there’s now every chance of that happening with these mesmerizing new versions.
American soul stars Smokey Robinson (‘Tracks Of My Tears’), Sam Cooke (‘Bring It On Home To Me’) and Johnny Nash need no introduction here, except these songs were hugely popular within Caribbean communities, and had a lasting impact upon UB40 themselves. Johnny Nash was the first overseas’ act to cover a Bob Marley song and his ‘Cream Puff’ is a little-known gem from the very early seventies, when the Texan singer was being billed as “the King Of Reggae” in England. Robin Campbell saw him perform back then and says the band have wanted to cover Cream Puff for years.
Labour Of Love IV is the first to feature another talented Campbell brother, Duncan, on lead vocals. Duncan would have been one of UB40?s vocalists right from the start had he not turned them down to pursue adventures around the world. Usually, when a world-famous band changes their lead singer, the transition isn’t exactly seamless.
Duncan was a natural choice however – not only because he’s family but also because he sings with such feeling, like a man who’s come to claim his rightful legacy. Robin, Astro, Norman and Earl also sing lead vocals on various tracks on the album, and such versatility – twinned with UB40?s remarkable consistency – make it another wonderful addition to the series.
Review of show & 2 photos by Gary Greene