Like Bob Marley before them and Matisyahu today, UB40 has the rare distinction of a reggae band that attracts fans beyond those who already love dub, reggae, or dancehall music. With 54 UK hit singles and over 70 million albums sold, they are truly kings of modern reggae.
UB40 is heading to the United States with its 2009 Labour of Love Tour, before returning to Europe and the UK later in the year. UB40’s US tour begins on April 10 in Snoqualmie, Washington, and runs until May 8 in Glenside, Pennsylvania, including live reggae shows in 18 cities. Most of the tour venues are on the US West Coast, including shows on April 13 in Portland, Oregon, and on April 21 in Solana Beach, California. The tour will also take UB40 up to Canada for a show on April 11 in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
UB40 is also booked to headline South Florida’s SunFest, to be held April 29 to May 3 in downtown West Palm Beach. Other bands in the lineup include Slightly Stoopid, 311, The Steve Miller Band, and others.
The penultimate US tour date will be a May 7 show in Times Square, New York City.
They are also performing at the Epsom Downs Racecourse on Thursday 30th July, as the grand finale of the 2009 Epsom Live! series of events, which feature a live outdoor concert after the last race.
Nick Blofeld, the Epsom Downs Racecourse’s Managing Director, praised their 2006 show at the same venue: “The atmosphere was fantastic with young and old enjoying UB40 perform their classic hits as the sun set across The Downs after watching some thrilling racing around the unique Derby course.”
UB40 is particularly popular in the UK, with their most recent release, Love Songs, reaching #3 on the UK Album Charts. Love Songs is a 2009 issue of digitally remastered hits from the band’s past reggae albums. The 20 tracks on Love Songs are UB40’s favorite lovers sounds, including the hit singles I Got You Babe and (I Can’t Help) Falling In love With You. The album includes other UB40 favorites such as Please Don’t Make Me Cry, Homely Girl, Breakfast In Bed, and I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.
The full track list includes:
- (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You
- I Got You Babe
- Kiss And Say Goodbye
- You’re Always Pulling Me Down
- Don’t Break My Heart
- Please Don’t Make Me Cry
- I Love It When You Smile
- Homely Girl
- Where Did I Go Wrong
- Come Back Darling
- Impossible Love
- Dream A Lie
- Tears From My Eyes
- Breakfast In Bed
- I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
- Bring Me Your Cup
- I’ll Be There
- Gotta Tell Someone
- Here I Am (Come And Take Me)
- I Would Do For You
UB40 formed in Britain’s West Midlands in 1978, eventually gaining global popularity as one of the world’s foremost reggae bands, delighting existing reggae fans and drawing new listeners to the genre with reggae hits such as (I Can’t Help) Falling in Love With You and Kingston Town. The original reggae band’s line up included Ali Campbell, his brother Robin Campbell, James (Jimmy) Brown, Norman Hassan, Earl Falconer, Brian Travers, Mickey Virtue, and Astro.
UB40 truly took off in the beginning of 1980, when the reggae band was invited to tour with The Pretenders. Drawing on their roots in Jamaican music, UB40 joined the Two Tone sound that had grown from Caribbean ska, rock steady and reggae and was then becoming popular in nearby Coventry. UB40 has released dozens of studio and live albums, their most famous song, 1988’s Red Red Wine, the original Labour of Love album, became a global hit, topping the Hot 100 chart.
UB40’s 8-member band lineup has remained active for over 30 years, drawing on their Irish, Scottish, English, Yemeni and Jamaican heritage for a truly global sound. Founder and former lead singer Ali Campbell left UB40 last year, and Mickey Virtue left UB40 shortly thereafter. Fortunately, they managed to finish the Twentyfourseven album just in time to keep the original line up. Ali and Mickey Virtue were replaced with Duncan Campbell and Tony Mullings. Other members of the UB40 lineup include drummer James Brown, guitarist/vocalist Robin Campbell, bassist/vocalist Earl Falconer, percussionist/vocalist Norman Hassan, saxophonist Brian Travers, and vocalist/trumpeter Astro.
Despite an earlier press release from the band, indicating that Ali Campbell was leaving to pursue a solo career, the lead singer released a statement indicating that he had “been deeply unhappy with administrative practices and with many decisions that have been made in recent years.” He did soften his tone with closing well-wishes, concluding: “I know UB40 will carry on successfully without me and I wish them all the best.”
UB40’s new lineup is currently working on the next studio album Labour of Love IV, scheduled to be released in October 2009. The band’s official website reports that it’s all “business as usual,” and that “despite rumors to the contrary,” the band is moving forward making new music; the Labour of Love IV album release will be followed by a UK/European arena tour in November and December 2009.