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The Very Best of UB40: 1980-2000

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Album Review

While the two previous Best of UB40 collections neatly divided the band's output between their more political early period and their later, covers-oriented pop success, they were also only ten tracks apiece. The Very Best of UB40 1980-2000 is the first comprehensive single-disc overview of the band's career, and it's a lot more generous at 18 tracks (on the American version). It isn't arranged chronologically, which actually helps the programming by splitting up the covers over the course of the running order. There's a bit more toughness to the earlier songs, both in the lyrics and the punchier performances. Yet in the end, the sonic differences are subtle enough that casual fans should still be able to enjoy them (unless they only want to hear the band performing reggae-pop versions of oldies they already know). Skimpy though it is, The Best of UB40, Vol. 1 is still the compilation for purists enamored of the band's early work, assuming they don't want to spend the money for the original albums. But with its fairly well-balanced selection and inclusion of all the band's U.S. hits, most American listeners who want a UB40 compilation will find The Very Best of UB40 1980-2000 exactly what they're looking for. [The import version juggles the track listing and running order a bit, excising a couple of Labour of Love II's American cover hits in favor of older songs and reggae covers of Jamaican origin. Also, the version of "Red Red Wine" is the shortened edit, without the toasting break at the end.]

Biography

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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The Very Best of UB40: 1980-2000, UB40
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