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World Music CD Reviews Europe

UB40

By MARIE ELSIE ST. LÉGER
Published April 7, 2006

Fathers Of Reggae
Virgin

In 1983, the still relatively unknown UB40 released Labour Of Love, an album of reggae remakes. Two decades and many hits later (“Red Red Wine,” “One In Ten,” “I Got You Babe,” “Sing My Own Song”), UB40 teams with some of its heroes, who reinterpret songs from the Brit band’s oeuvre on Fathers Of Reggae. No one will argue the fit of the sweet tenor of Bob Andy (a Studio One star) with the ballad “Love Is All Is Alright” or the Heptones’ Leroy Sibbles doing his thing on “Higher Ground.” But the choice to mix vocals over old tracks (or the virtually faithful re-creations of ruined final takes) is a head-scratcher. The collection would have had more bite if these veterans were allowed their own arrangement (the logistics are admittedly daunting). Still, it’s a tasty treat to hear the Mighty Diamonds stretch three-part harmonies over “You Could Meet Somebody” and Toots Hibbert (sans Maytals) smoothly deliver “C’est la Vie.” With Fathers the men of UB40 prove themselves more than worthy songwriters in the eyes of masters.