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Labour Of Love IV

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Album Review

This fourth volume of UB40’s all-covers Labour of Love series is the first since the departure of longtime lead singer Ali Campbell. Here, he is replaced by his older brother Duncan, a former professional spoon player — yes, spoon player — who slips easily into the role with a solid yet soft voice, akin to Ali’s but not a carbon copy. UB40 groove in unison as they always have, the production is that polished style they’ve favored for the past few decades, and the song selection is an equal mix of reggae and R&B classics that fans have come to expect from the series. For prime examples, check their version of “Get Along Without You Now” — which owes a lot to the Melodians’ take on the tune — or their woozy, almost mystical cover of John Holt’s “Man Next Door.” When bassist Earl Falconer takes over for “Tracks of My Tears,” the use of Auto-Tune is heavy enough that the version becomes a matter of taste, but everything else is handled with care and respect. Even if it won’t bring back fans who want their UB40 to sound revolutionary, this smooth and comfortable effort is certainly nothing to sneer at.


Formed: 1978 in Birmingham, England

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Named after a British unemployment benefit form, pop-reggae band UB40 were formed in a welfare line in 1978, and their multiracial lineup reflected the working-class community their members came from. The band consolidated its street credibility with political topics appealing to dissatisfied youth and got a boost from fans of the waning 2-Tone ska revival movement. Brothers Robin (lead guitar) and Ali Campbell (guitar, lead vocals) formed the centerpiece of the group, which also included bassist...
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