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16 JANUARY 2018 (Toronto, ON) – Today, UB40 announces the release of their new album, A Real Labour Of Love, out March 2 via Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company. Featuring Ali, Astro & Mickey, the album is available now for pre-order with an instant grat download of the lead single, “She Loves Me Now”.

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 audiences. They also topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with their reggae cover of Neil Diamond’s classic track, “Red Red Wine”.

Now, 20 years later, Ali, Astro and Mickey are revitalizing the concept by exploring the tunes of a later golden age. A Real Labour Of Love sees the group rediscovering the songs that defined reggae in the ‘80s. 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 ‘70s 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 ‘80s, 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 UMG.

Recorded and mixed at Dean Street and RAK Studios, A Real Labour Of Love was produced by Ali, whose instantly recognizable 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, details to follow soon. 

“The reaction to that tour was fantastic, and every show was a sell-out,” says Ali. “Now we’re ready to do it all again. We knew most of these songs back to front before we began recording A Real Labour Of Love, so the challenge was to make them our own rather than copying the originals.”

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A Real Labour Of Love Track Listing:

  1. Making Love
  2. She Loves Me Now
  3. Strive
  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