UB40 feat. Ali, Astro & Mickey Announce New Album - A Real Labour of Love
01/29/2018 by Press Release
A Real Labour Of Love is the new album from UB40 featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey, to be released March 2nd on UMC. Lead single She Loves Me Now received its exclusive first play today on BBC Radio 2, and will be available tomorrow to stream and download as an instant grat with album pre-orders.
As founding members of Britain’s biggest reggae band UB40, singer Ali Campbell, second vocalist Astro and keyboardist Mickey Virtue topped the UK singles chart on three occasions and sold 70 million records as they took their smooth yet rootsy musical blend to all corners of the globe. Now with A Real Labour Of Love the trio give us a fresh take on the legendary series of albums, putting the focus primarily on reggae tracks from the 1980s.
“The first three albums featured the songs we grew up listening to,” says Ali. “This one is built around the records we were listening to once UB40 were on the road.”
Between 1983 and 1998 UB40 produced three Labour Of Love albums, bringing hits such as Eric Donaldson’s Cherry Oh Baby, Lord Creator’s Kingston Town and Johnny Osbourne’s Come Back Darling to a new, global audience. They also topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with their reggae cover of Neil Diamond’s Red Red Wine.
And now 20 years later Ali, Astro and Mickey are revitalising the concept by exploring the tunes of a later golden age, A Real Labour Of Love sees the group explore the songs that defined reggae in the Eighties. The concept isn’t a rigid one: Stevie Wonder’s A Place In The Sun is a Motown classic from 1966, and there are numbers from the late Seventies in Dennis Brown’s sublime How Could I Leave and Culture’s International Herb. But most of the tracks on A Real Labour Of Love are from the Eighties, a decade that saw dancehall reggae enter the mainstream.
“We were spending more time in Jamaica and some of these numbers are the ones we’d hear on the radio and out in the streets,” says Astro. “The singers of these songs were our heroes. They are quintessential reggae artists.”
The new album builds confidently on the momentum gathered in the five years since Astro rejoined singer Ali and keyboardist Mickey in 2013. They have released two acclaimed albums, Silhouette (2014) and Unplugged (2016), their first acoustic album and their first release with new label UMC.
Recorded and mixed at Dean Street and RAK Studios, A Real Labour Of Love was produced by Ali, whose instantly recognisable voice is augmented by the ‘sing-jay’ vocal style of Astro. The latter takes the lead on six of the album’s 16 tracks, placing the two singers at the helm of an 11-piece band. Sadly, A Real Labour Of Love also marks the passing of long-serving trombonist John Johnson. A former member of Simply Red who joined forces with Ali seven years ago, John played on the album but passed away the night before the rest of the group were due to play a benefit concert to raise money for his cancer treatment. The album is dedicated to him.
The unique artwork for A Real Labour Of Love by celebrated American contemporary artist Mark T Smith was specially commissioned for the release. A first edition print, signed by the artist and the band, is being auctioned with proceeds going to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
1. Making Love
2. She Loves Me Now
4. Here I Come
5. Telephone Love/Rumours
6. How Could I Leave
7. Ebony Eyes
8. Hush Darling
9. Hard Times
10. Moving Away
11. International Herb
12. A Place In The Sun
13. Tune In
14. Once Ago
15. In The Rain
16. Under Me Sleng Teng