Reversing what it has done with the three albums in its "Labour of Love" series of covers, veteran U.K.-based pop reggae act UB40 has assembled a who's who of reggae greats to reinterpret 14 of the ba
Reversing what it has done with the three albums in its "Labour of Love" series of covers, veteran U.K.-based pop reggae act UB40 has assembled a who's who of reggae greats to reinterpret 14 of the band's own songs for its latest project. Due Nov. 19 via Virgin, "The Fathers of Reggae," includes appearances by the likes of Freddie McGregor, the Mighty Diamonds, Gregory Isaacs, Toots Hibbert, Honey Boy, and Alton Ellis, among others.
"They're our Gods... more than heroes," UB40 lead guitarist Robin Campbell says of the album's guests. "They could have just said 'no' and it wouldn't have surprised me in the slightest. But practically everybody jumped at the idea. What was really nice was, after we'd talked to a few people we started getting phone calls from other singers asking, 'Why aren't I going to be on that album?' It was incredible."
Each artist brought something different to the table when recording the songs the band considers its favorites. "When I gave Freddie McGregor 'You're Always Pulling Me Down', he loved it and just said, "That's my tune... that's my tune'," Campbell explains. "We were on tour when [lead vocalist Ali Campbell] spoke to John Holt and told him we wanted him to do 'The Pillow.' Straight away he started singing it on the phone!"
Among the more noticeable changes is Isaacs' trademark groan that opens "Bring Me Your Cup," and the newly customized lyrics of "C'est La Vie," which Toots Hibbert complained had "too many words in them."
Striking a balance between the original versions and the contemporary additions of the guest artists such as Honey Boy, Leroy Sibbles, and John Holt, a host of renowned Jamaican producers and engineers -- Sly & Robbie, Danny Brownie, Steely & Clevie, Fatta & Bulby -- completed the final mixes that update the sounds UB40 has created over the course of a 21-year career.
Featuring covers of songs by Holt, Winston, Neil Diamond, and Peter Tosh, among others, "Labour of Love III" was released in late 1998, and topped Billboard's Top Reggae Albums chart. The first collection reached No. 15 on The Billboard 200 in 1988, while the second version topped out at No. 30 on that chart.
Here is "The Fathers of Reggae" track list:
"You Could Meet Somebody," UB40 and the Mighty Diamonds
"You're Always Pulling Me Down," UB40 and Freddie McGregor
"Bring Me Your Cup," UB40 and Gregory Isaacs
"Silent Witness," UB40 and Brent Dowe
"Always There," UB40 and Honey Boy
"I Love It When You Smile," UB40 and Alton Ellis
"Don't Do the Crime," UB40 and Jackie Robinson
"Watchdogs," UB40 and Max Romeo
"Love Is All Is Alright," UB40 and Bob Andy
"The Earth Dies Screaming," UB40 and Ken Boothe
"Don't Slow Down," UB40 and Winston Groovy
"Higher Ground," UB40 and Leroy Sibbles
"The Pillow." UB40 and John Holt
"C'est La Vie," UB40 and Toots Hibbert