( Virgin Records ; Audio CD; Rs.350)
I n their true classical Jamaican style and charismatic magic touch, British Reggae band UB40 brings out the fourth in their “Labour of Love” covers album series.
The 14 track album is the fourth instalment in what began as a covers project of their favourite Jamaican influences way back in 1983. The Birmingham boys bring back the eternal tunes of Errol Dunkley, John Holt and Delroy Wilson among others drawn from reggae's good old days. Popularly named after a British unemployment benefit form, the pop-reggae band formed in 1978, has timelessly consolidated their strong vocal inspirations and appealing musical influences into a movement of sorts over the years. UB40 is Duncan Campbell and Maxi Priest (vocals), James Brown (drums), Tony Mullings (keyboard), Brian Travers and Martin Meridith (saxophones), Robin Campbell (lead guitar, vocals), Earl Falconer (bass guitar, vocals), Norman Lamont Hassan, Astro and Laurence Parry (percussions, trombones, trumpets, vocals).
John Holt's “Don't Want To See You Cry” is traditional UB40 magic. The opener transports you to the Jamaican soundscape with its off-beat rhythm. Blending blues, calypso and rock-n-roll UB40 proves they haven't lost any of their remarkable consistency as they recreate the Melodians' “Get Along Without You Now”. Sweet-sensation driven Sam Cooke's “Bring It On Home To Me” follows in strong moving vocals with trumpet and drum motivated cadences. Redefining groove to a whole new level, the album's energy runs full-fledged in one of the album's best tracks ever – Johnny Nash's “Cream Puff”.
As powerful and addictive as the music are the evocative lyrics in the syncopate rhythm and vocals blend beautifully with Duncan's euphoric voice singing, “She's my Cream Puff”. “Easy Snappin” grooves your fingers to snap with the dancey R&B groove. The song's trumpet and piano leaves you spell bound. The earthy vocals row the beats in surging precision with relentless waves of body-swaying rhythm. The band takes you on a groovy vibrant fun trip in the Paragons' “Holiday”. Delroy Wilson's “Close To Me” slows down in tempo but never loses the feel of illustrious pulse that flows through the entire album. “Man Next Door” and “True, True, True” follow without missing a beat in ambitious soul-swinging romantic harmony. Drawing from their deep-rooted Caribbean harmony, UB40 renders a near-magical all-smile happy reproduction of American soul star Smokey Robinson's “Tracks Of My Tears”.
The ultimate dance movement in the album is “Boom Shaka Lacka” with cadenced euphony, a celebration of life and dance. This track is an eccentric treat to the dance-loving fans that the band has garnered over the last 32 years. “You're Gonna Need Me” and “A Love I Can Feel” re-emphasise the album's theme in heart-rending lyrical virtuosity that rings home the romance that beats at the heart of these well-chosen tracks. The magic of the Jamaican fusion with its infectious sense of joy flows even through a lyrically sad song such as the album closer “Baby Why”. Duncan delivers the lines ‘Oh Baby why, why did you leave me for another guy' with emotive sensitivity. A perfect Reggae collection, a must for fans across genres for its simple enjoyable arrangements and the genuine joy it carries in it.
ALLAN MOSES R.