If it works, don't fix it. That is the pointedly conservative concept behind "Labour of Love III," UB40's latest remake collection. The idea is to pay tribute to the artists who inspired this once-revolutionary band that named itself after a British unemployment form. But the not-unexpected result is pop-reggae that's frustratingly low-key, from the sound effects at the start of Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy" (remember their 1984 hit with Diamond's "Red Red Wine" ?) to the tepid run-through of Peter Tosh's pro-ganja anthem "Legalize It." The band also sleepwalks through the Melodians' "It's My Delight," Bob Marley's "Soul Rebel" and the Mighty Diamonds' "Someone Like You," all done up in sonic monochrome.
UB40's sweet harmonies and trippy grooves remain intact, and they make occasional nods to dub, drum & bass, and dancehall. But "III" does nothing to revamp the band's rep as purveyors of easy-listening reggae.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.