Named after the unemployment form in England, UB40
was never the most creative or talented group of musicians. However, what they lacked in talent they made up for with an uplifting spirit and genuine affection for reggae music. This is never more apparent than on their breakthrough album, Labour of Love
, in which they cover the songs of their heroes. They try to recapture the spirit of early reggae by singing songs originally released before the international success of Bob Marley
. They manage to inject their own exuberance into every song; for example, they transform Jimmy Cliff
's mournful "Many Rivers to Cross" into an uplifting song of empowerment. The song for which UB40
will always be known is their first number one hit in the U.S., "Red Red Wine," a cover of Tony Tribe's full reggae makeover of a Neil Diamond
tune that miraculously turned the group into an international sensation. Although UB40
relies on standard reggae arrangements, this is their most enjoyable album as a result of the inspired vocal performances and the genuine joy they have for the music. A must-own for reggae fans.