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Non-Prog CD Reviews

UB40

Labour Of Love IV

Review by Larry Toering

More than twenty-five years since the release UB40s first Labour Of Love and, the arrival of another chapter in this best selling series is still an event. Now a reggae institution, UB40 with Labour Of Love IV brings things. Not being familiar with every track on the disc, I'm bound to the sheer greatness of its vibes nevertheless, and that is the ultimate mark of their infectious tunes. After all these years, UB40 have lost nothing. They sound as good as the day they started, and this installment contains all the proof needed for anyone wondering about that. They can do no wrong it seems, as this is a great example of them. Whether dancing around the room, or kicking back at the coffee table, there is plenty to offer on this quality recording. It's never easy to distinguish so many tunes like this from one another, so, it's a challenge to describe. Still, it’s one I meet with no qualms because I like this band and always have. This is a perfect chill out release, as it doesn't tend to get extremely excited throughout. It's just a mellow piece of ear candy.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Don't Want To See You Cry
This opens with a keyboard akin to “I Can't Wait” by Nu Shooz but, quickly the UB40 standard sound takes over and, a lovely little tune it is to start the disc off in a mellow fashion. The keyboard plays like a loop throughout, giving it the repetitive touch needed to keep the listener hooked.
Get Along Without You Now

There is no time wasted in bringing the tempo up somewhat and the drums and horns kick in nicely. The combination helps the arrangement entice even the most remote reggae fan. I can't find any way to describe reggae drums as less than anything but a lead instrument, which is only scratching the surface so far, but scratching it well.

Bring It On Home To Me

This begins with drums, but as I mentioned them, it's no surprise at this point. This is an overall softer number, not too unlike the opening track. But it's easy to tell this is a  Sam Cooke composed classic, even though it has the UB40 sound applied.

Cream Puff

This is another classic revisited. This time it's a Johnny Nash tune. This is equally as good as the previous piece.

Easy Snappin'

This one gets a little more fun. Composed by Theophilus Beckford, it's a bit more uplifting. There’s a slight hip hop vibe to it and it does stand up with everything on offer so far.

Holiday

Now things start to get more serious, with this tune taking more liberties in the percussion section. Still, they keep it as mellow as possible on a John Holt penned track. The horns get their best workout so far, and they just beg for more of the same. Ironically the song is about not doing less of the same on holiday. This is a nice little tune which so far has my graces more than anything to this point on the disc.
Close To Me

This one is a Bunny Lee penned number that keeps the same tempo. Still, it does have some peaks and valleys that make it a little better than the previous track.

Man Next Door

If the previous track wasn't enough, this is just more of the same thing with less ups and downs in the tempo, as it cruises along nicely every step of the way. One of the most UB40 themselves dominated tracks in the collection and one of the more satisfying grooves as well.

Tracks Of My Tears

Smokey Robinson meets UB40 all the way. It’s a very good transition they make from Motown to reggae. There is a bit of  an electronic vocal which tends to threaten the whole number. Fortunately they don't overdo it and come out with another great rendition of a classic with their stamp all over it.

True, True, True

This is a nice little change of pace, although it's a reggae pace. Of course, even with the change, reggae only allows so much variation. Still, this is just enjoyable no matter how you dice it.

 

Boom Shacka A Lacka

For a title that might seem cheesy, this happens to be a Hopeton Lewis number that works very well in this form. All kinds of charm gets displayed here, as it's another one of the more satisfying tunes. I could imagine this in a club setting or cranked up loud at a party.

You're Gonna Need Me

This is from Errol Dunkley and works just as well as the last two tracks did. In fact, I’d say that it’s just as good as "True, True, True."

A Love I Can Feel

Getting back to another John Holt penned number, it's UB40 all the way. There’s nothing else to really attach to it except perhaps the mention of a lovely little keyboard melody that can be heard here and there.

Baby Why

This is probably one out of my three best picks from the disc. While the differences from song to song are minor, if anything on the set will grow on you, this will. It really is up there with the best UB40 tracks. Once again the killer keyboard melody takes a front seat.

Loving Pauper

This is one of two bonus tracks, and it's penned by Highland Dobson, aka Dobby Dobson. There are a few tracks here I wouldn't otherwise recognize in terms of coming from the original rendition, but this is not one of them. Still, it caught me by surprise to see it included. It's another fine cover and does bring the kind of justice to the table that UB40 generally deliver.

Come On Little Girl

This could easily be revered with the previous track if it had a slightly better arrangement. It just seems that the fantastic “Loving Pauper” would be a better way to end the entire collection. While I might quibble with the positioning, this is a nice inclusion to this fine disc.


 
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