Released: March 2015
Cover albums are usually hit and miss affairs, and rarely garner a classic status among fans, which makes the release of Labour of Love by UB40 in 1983 a somewhat monumental affair when it charted so well.
The group’s fourth album still holds up well today with the hits Please Don’t Make Me Cry and the group’s defining song Red Red Wine (originally by Neil Diamond) caressing your ears in a wave of nostalgia.
The Deluxe reissue is a tasty package for collectors, with an additional two discs covering alternate mixes, live versions and a couple of BBC radio sessions from 1983-84.
In reality the alternate mixes don’t offer much, but live versions of the likes of Food For Thought and Cherry Oh Baby show how much of a hot prospect the reggae legends were.
The second reissue in the series, 1981’s Present Arms doesn’t hold up quite so well, but a professionally assembled set along the same format as Labour of Love makes it an appealing buy.
The full album on disc one sounds a little dated now, and a slower feel to the likes of (ironically) Don’t Slow Down and Don’t Let It Pass You By makes the album a more drawn out affair.
The second disc is a dub version affair and for that reason makes it an entirely unnecessary listen, but a third disc of live BBC recordings that sound like they were recorded in your front room redeems the collection somewhat.
The reality is that while both albums cover some fine material, disc two on both sets is largely an unrewarding listen with only the live recordings really serving to give an insight into a band who were reaching out for bigger things. For serious collectors only.