Entertainment

Ali Campbell, friends put twist on classics

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, January 22, 2018

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Thirty-five years after their first reggae tribute album, members of UB40 will release a new set that contains cover versions of popular Jamaican songs.

The album, A Real Labour of Love, is scheduled for release on March 2 by UMe (Universal Music Enterprise).

The official name of the band is UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey. Vocalist Ali Campbell, saxophonist Astro and keyboardist Mickey Virtue were members of the UB40 lineup from the 1980s and 1990s that recorded the successful Labour of Love albums, which covered a number of rocksteady and reggae songs.

A Real Labour of Love hears the trio leading their band on versions of Beres Hammond's She Loves Me Now, Dennis Brown's Here I Come and How Could I Leave, International Herb, originally done by Culture, Tune In by Gregory Isaacs and Under Me Sleng Teng by Wayne Smith.

Campbell, one of three brothers involved with the original UB40, produced A Real Labour of Love. Astro said they selected reggae songs they listened to while touring or vacationing in Jamaica.

“We were spending more time in Jamaica and some of those numbers are the ones we'd hear on the radio and out in the street,” he told PR Newswire.

UB40's original members are from Birmingham in the British Midlands, home to a massive Jamaican/West Indian community.

They saluted their reggae heroes on four Labour of Love albums between 1983 and 2010. The group gave new life to songs like Eric Donaldson's Cherry Oh Baby, Singer Man by The Kingstonians, Winston Francis' Mr Fix It and Easy Snappin' by Theophilus Beckford.

Campbell's brothers, Duncan and Robin, still record and tour with UB40. Citing differences with the band's management, Ali left the fold in 2008; Virtue with Astro joined them five years later.

 

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